Random light dimming

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  #1  
Old 08-06-13, 11:51 AM
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Random light dimming

We have had some lights dimming for a month now sporadically. The living room or bed room light would dim for no reason - (the AC did not just kick in) and nothing new plugged in the house.
The issue seems to be getting worse.
Today turning on the toaster makes my living room light dim - thats never happen.
I did some testing with a multimeter and some outlets in my house read 99 volts while others read 145 volts....
Breakers have NOT tripped but my coffee pot and router have burned out, as well as a surge protector and a 6 outlet tap...

I did notice a few outlets were reading HOT on both sides ( I used one of those volt detector leads) ...

I'm probably going to have to call an electrician as I'm probably in over my head.
Any ideas
 
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  #2  
Old 08-06-13, 12:55 PM
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If this is happening all over the house and not just one circuit, you need to call your power company NOW and have your system checked. They should be available 24/7 for this type of call.
 
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Old 08-06-13, 02:28 PM
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Call the emergency number not customer service.
 
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Old 08-06-13, 03:18 PM
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Sure sounds like a loose neutral. If it is it can fry anything plugged in at the time.
Unplug everything you can and kill the double breakers until the power company shows up.
This is no joke.
 
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Old 08-06-13, 10:12 PM
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My power company offers no assistance: We provide service for power lines and equipment up to and including the electric meter. All electrical lines and equipment in your home are your responsibility. You should call a local, qualified electrician for such service.

Looking in yellow pages for help..
 
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Old 08-06-13, 10:20 PM
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My power company offers no assistance: We provide service for power lines and equipment up to and including the electric meter. All electrical lines and equipment in your home are your responsibility. You should call a local, qualified electrician for such service.
There is nothing in your observation to indicate that the problem is on your side of the meter. It may be, but the first step is to make sure that the POCO feed is completely OK. You should have already called their emergency number.

In fact, they should already be there, checking it out
 
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Old 08-06-13, 10:55 PM
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Thanks all for you advice - I'm trying to call them right now to see if i can get them to come. I live in Virginia and we have Dominion Power - its a gauntlet to reach someone and everything online seems to cater to just outages when it comes to "emergencies"...
 
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Old 08-07-13, 02:40 AM
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and everything online seems to cater to just outages when it comes to "emergencies"
And that is the number you need to call. NOT customer service. You may have an outage on one leg.
 
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Old 08-07-13, 02:55 AM
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It's a little different here in VA. There is no emergency number listed in the phone book, just a number that gets you a voice mail with prompts.
Not saying anything or hitting 0 at the prompts used to work.
A simple thing like trying to get a line drop, report a live downed line or one that got cut when digging was a nightmare until the service man gave me his cell phone number.
I used to have to call 911 to just have them give me a call back.
 
  #10  
Old 08-07-13, 04:29 AM
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Thanks guys. The power company is on their way. Once I chose the option for power outage and received a human on the line, the person was very helpful in documenting my symptoms and created a work order. The whole time I'm thinking she's going to try and get rid of me and tell me I need to call an electrician, but just like you guys have advised, she understood they needed to come by and make sure things were right on their end. Even if they determine the issue is within the house, maybe I'll get lucky and get a nice person who can at least give me an idea of what the problem is before I call the electrician... I hate going to any tradesmen completely blind on the causes and getting someone dishonest who takes me to the bank... (plumber,mechanic,etc)
What's best case scenario for me? Several breakers that need to be replaced?
 
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Old 08-07-13, 04:39 AM
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There going to start checking for a loose neutral someplace starting at the panel.
I had some friends in my area have there house burn down due to a loose neutral. Power company had an outside contractor replacing old power poles. There was a loose neutral that caused everything plugged in to fry. For months they keep calling VP to complain about a burning smell. They flat out refused to come out and check and said it was there problem.
House burns down, after 2 years in the court system they ended up with a free brand new home.
 
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Old 08-07-13, 07:28 AM
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There going to start checking for a loose neutral someplace starting at the panel.
That would be a bit abnormal anywhere, the panel is the customer's equipment. Typically, the power company stops at the meter socket.

My power company offers no assistance: We provide service for power lines and equipment up to and including the electric meter. All electrical lines and equipment in your home are your responsibility.
I have, however, seen a few times over many years when the trouble man from the power company did open a customer's panel and offer suggestions on what they needed to have done. They might even tighten main connections too, but I found this very unusual and rare.
 
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Old 08-07-13, 07:34 AM
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Even if they determine the issue is within the house, maybe I'll get lucky and get a nice person who can at least give me an idea of what the problem is before I call the electrician... I hate going to any tradesmen completely blind on the causes and getting someone dishonest who takes me to the bank... (plumber,mechanic,etc)
What's best case scenario for me? Several breakers that need to be replaced?
If you have to call an electrician, just give him the symptoms as you described them here, don't analyze and try to tell him what the problem is although you could say that you suspect a loose neutral connection somewhere. Best case scenario would be a neutral connection that can be tightened with no need to replace any burned up equipment.
 
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Old 08-07-13, 08:31 AM
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Lots of thanks for all the comments. Power company came, pulled the meter out tested and confirmed there was a loose neutral. They will have it all corrected in a few days, for now they have me parallel with the neighbor (attached town home) to balance/share the neutral.

So far the damage looks like i've lost a router,coffee maker, surge protector, and my refrigerator is not working so gonna have to get that repaired - at least my family and house were OK in all this.
 
  #15  
Old 08-07-13, 09:51 AM
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Thanks for the update. Glad you got through this with what sounds like relatively minimal ans recoverable damage and, most importantly, that you and yours are OK.

Some things to consider going forward: Make sure the bonding that establishes the Grounding Electrode Connector for your service is complete and in good condition. Make sure, if the Dominion workers do not, that the connections for the feeders into your main distribution panel are properly tightened. Both of these tasks should be done by a licensed Master Electrician.

Install a whole-house surge suppressor in your panel. Use plug-in surge suppressors in addition the the one in the panel to give the best protection to sensitive equipment. Add a UPS or two for anything that you think needs to be shut down in an orderly manner. We have a couple of those for our primary towers, for example.

maybe I'll get lucky and get a nice person who can at least give me an idea of what the problem is before I call the electrician... I hate going to any tradesmen completely blind on the causes and getting someone dishonest who takes me to the bank... (plumber,mechanic,etc)
I would follow Joe's advice in your approach to anyone you hire. Just straightforward observations and concerns usually work best, IMX.

Living in VA gives you a bit of help on this. In the Old Dominion, for a number of years now, the Commonwealth's licensing board has required studies in best business practices and business ethics, in addition to demonstrated knowledge and experience in the field, before issuing a Master's license.
 
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Old 08-07-13, 05:09 PM
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So far the damage looks like i've lost a router,coffee maker, surge protector, and my refrigerator is not working so gonna have to get that repaired - at least my family and house were OK in all this.
Once you get your service all repaired and everything is back to normal, check again with your power company through customer service and ask for their insurance department. Many power companys will pay for repairs and/or replacement of major appliances damaged because of their problem. Most likely you'll have to fill out a few forms so remember all the relevant dates and appliances that have been damaged. I would go ahead and repair or replace, but keep your receipts. Be a good idea to document with pictures of old appliances too.
 
  #17  
Old 08-07-13, 05:15 PM
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Your own home owner insurance should also be contacted.
Always best to have a paper trail to look back at.
 
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