In Finland, MBC tripped and other issues...

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  #1  
Old 12-14-14, 08:19 AM
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Unhappy In Finland, MBC tripped and other issues...

Hey all,

This will be a lengthy OP, but I'm trying to get as much information out as possible to get the trimmings away from the meat of the problem. I'm a straight-up novice in the electrical department, even though my brother is an electrical engineer-- he lives back in Los Angeles, and I've moved to Finland years ago.

The disaster:
MCB (mini circuit breaker) randomly tripped a few nights ago while family and I were playing video games.

The QUESTION:
Could I have bad wiring somewhere in my flat? Or am I dealing with two separate issues (described below)? I don't even know what I'm looking for anymore... I just want to know what's going on.

Some back story and other things that may or may not be related:
I purchased an audio receiver a couple months ago, installed it, and that's when the electrical circus show began. While the TV was on, if someone switched OFF the bathroom lights, there was a 30% chance the TV input signal would drop out for a second. I didn't (and still don't) know what the severity of this issue would cause in the long run, so I didn't pay it any attention. There was also rare cases where if the stove top light (fluorescent) was turned off, or the microwave was turned off, the TV input signal was also affected. The TV flickering was never an issue before the audio receiver was installed, so I assumed it was the culprit.

Fast forward to a few nights ago:
When the MCB tripped, my wife and I had to manually search for the appliance that wouldn't allow us to reset the switch. We found it was the computer's PSU. We tested it out by plugging the PSU into the outlet, only to trip the MCB again. So we left the computer unplugged (the MCB trip killed the PSU and my new motherboard icon_sad.gif ). We figure it could have been an overload on the MCB, but we had been running fine for the two months we've had the audio receiver installed-- so what could have pushed it?

We had our building's handyman give his opinion, and he blamed it on HDMI cables. He said our cheap quality HDMI cables are the cause of the TV flickering (likely due to the fluorescent tube in our bathroom) and could have shorted, causing the MCB to trip. He also mentioned it could have been an overloaded circuit line.

Giving him some respect, I decided to test all of my HDMI cables. Of the 13 cables I've tested, 11 cables reacted to the light switch test (turning off the bathroom light). I highly doubt all of my cables are THAT bad to cause an MCB to trip randomly. Hell, millions of the same quality cables are being used around the world these days... so why isn't everyone experiencing the same issues as I am?

So I took my new audio receiver to the nearest credited service center to get inspected, came home to do some more tests and found something more mind boggling. The light switch STILL caused temporary input loss on the TV... except, now it also occurred when the lights were turned ON. So now, I figure I should also test the load on the circuit line. I unplug all my appliances, leaving only the TV, an Xbox, and our internet modem connected to the line. I hit the light switch on and off, and TV input is interrupted again.

Now, I assumed it had to do with the fluorescent lighting as a few Google searches have turned up some similar problems. So I did some further testing, this time on two different circuit lines to see if it is a over-the-air proximity issue. I tested on my plasma HDTV, and LCD computer monitor, making sure it's not an isolated problem on just the TV.

Just a quick layout of the circuit lines in this flat. The affected line that tripped the MCB is connected to our entrance hallway, bathroom, living room, dining room, and kitchen. Hell of a lot of crap to be on ONE line. There is also four GFCI breakers lined up beside it (1,2,3,4)... with #4 connected to affected MCB somehow.
[GFCI 1][GFCI 2][GFCI 3][GFCI 4][MCB]

So here's the quick test:

1) TV/monitor connected to affected line, Xbox connected to unaffected line = the TV input is affected by light switch on/off.

2) TV/monitor connected to unaffected line, Xbox connected to affected line = the TV input is UNaffected by light switch on/off.

Does that mean the affected line needs to be inspected by an electrician, or can I troubleshoot further in hopes of getting this solved? Or are the TV interference a completely different issue than the MCB tripping? It just seems like they're related because the issues didn't begin until I installed the audio receiver.

My brother said it could be anything from broken wires, loose wire nut, loose connection, or bad fluorescent ballast powering the bathroom tube. I'm down to inspect things out myself, but I'm quite clueless to the whole electric arena. I only started reading up on these things the past couple days. I took a multimeter to all of the outlets on the affected line: VAC all within range (225v), resistance all at 0. I haven't metered at the breaker yet-- is it something I could do or should do?

Any and all help is greatly appreciated. If you need pictures of circuit unit or more info, let me know.

PS
I'm not quite sure how the L, N, and E all work out here. The outlets used are like Germany's, Schuko (Type F, CEE 7/4), where the two plug holes can be interchanged when a plug is inserted-- i.e. no fixed negative or live port, but earth is fixed... wiki image for reference:
 

Last edited by dhChewy; 12-14-14 at 09:32 AM.
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  #2  
Old 12-14-14, 09:49 AM
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Welcome to the forums from Finland.

So the long and short of the problem is the TV. The TV partially shuts gown when certain things on the circuit are turned on or off.

Are all devices connected with HDMI cables to the TV ?
How do you get TV reception..... thru a box and HDMI ?
I'd want to try connecting something to the TV with a different connection.... like composite or component and see if the TV still reacts the same.
 
  #3  
Old 12-14-14, 11:02 AM
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Thanks, glad to have found this place and be a member.

I guess the gist of my post is: One problem, One question concerning the tripped breaker, and are these two related in any way?

So the long and short of the problem is the TV. The TV partially shuts gown when certain things on the circuit are turned on or off.
Yes. It also happens when I connect a computer monitor to the affected circuit, whether it's in the kitchen, the dining room, or living room. The monitor will also respond the same way the plasma hdtv would. I can make a video of the issue if need be.

Are all devices connected with HDMI cables to the TV ?
Yes. With the AV receiver installed, four devices in the input ports, and single HDMI output to HDTV. Without the AV receiver, a single device would connect to the HDTV's single input port.

How do you get TV reception..... thru a box and HDMI ?
If I'm understanding your definition of "TV reception" correctly, you are referring to source picture, and not OTA/digital reception (which I don't have). If I understood correctly, then it's just as I had explained in the previous question. With AV receiver, it's four inputs to receiver, and one out from receiver to TV. Now that the receiver is at the service center being inspected, I only have one input port on the TV, so a single device would directly connect to that port.

I'd want to try connecting something to the TV with a different connection.... like composite or component and see if the TV still reacts the same.
I'll try that now and get back to you.
EDIT: actually, can't test that right now. Wife is taking a shower. I wouldn't physically be able to test this out and reply in time if I started flipping the light switch on and off. If you need to know, yes, the light switch was installed on the OUTSIDE wall of the bathroom-- it's a rented flat/apartment, we didn't have a say on this.
 
  #4  
Old 12-14-14, 11:23 AM
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So all of your sources are going to the A/V receiver and then to the TV. Try one device directly to the TV..... not using the receiver.

If I understand you correctly.... the breaker tripped only when the PSU was plugged in. That would indicate a problem with the PSU.
 
  #5  
Old 12-14-14, 02:07 PM
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So all of your sources are going to the A/V receiver and then to the TV. Try one device directly to the TV..... not using the receiver.
That's what I'm doing now, but the TV flicker is still occurring. Each device I connected to the TV's only HDMI input port replicated the interference flicker.

Something else happened tonight when my wife was unplugging her hair dryer (on the affected circuit), a couple of lights also connected on the same circuit went dim for a split second. I'm not sure if I'm just noticing this now, or if it's been occurring for a while.

If I understand you correctly.... the breaker tripped only when the PSU was plugged in. That would indicate a problem with the PSU.
The breaker tripped randomly that night. The computer was in sleep mode while my family and I were playing some Nintendo games on the Plasma tv. The computer itself was upgraded in June and had run fine up until the breaker tripping, so roughly 5 months. After the breaker tripped, the PSU was the one component that wouldn't allow us to reset the mcb switch. I'm only guessing that whatever surge occurred on the circuit that night, fried my PSU. I know I'm stupid for not doing this, but I didn't have the computer on a surge protector or UPS of some sort. FYI, the computer's motherboard was also fried.

As for the weird light switch/TV interference, that began immediately after I installed the AV receiver, which was two months ago. Everything has been weird since then.

PS.
I'll try component/composite and even DVI cables tomorrow afternoon. It's midnight here and I've got an early workday. Thanks for the replies PJmax.
 
  #6  
Old 12-15-14, 05:41 AM
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Okay, a couple of updates.

- The hair dryer thing... I'm just going to chalk that up to a voltage disruption... for now.

- I haven't tested component or DVI, but so far, using RCA/SCART cables instead of HDMI didn't produce the interference.

- The Yamaha service center gave me a rang earlier. The receiver is completely fine, but they are assuming that I may have a bad ground or cable hanging by a wire-strand hiding somewhere.

My new computer components are being delivered in a couple of days... I'm worried I'll blow it out again if something with the wiring is actually wrong. Getting a good UPS is going to hit me pretty hard with finances, but I know I need one.

I'll post a couple pictures of my circuit panel in a bit. I've gotta step out for now.
 
  #7  
Old 12-15-14, 09:58 AM
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Here are a couple panel pictures.
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I'm most likely referring to the bigger black/yellow breaker switch incorrectly as a GFCI, but that's just me not knowing what it is and assuming.

My father-in-law's friend is swinging by tomorrow morning to inspect the flat. Supposedly, he's a retired electrical engineer of some sort. Hopefully he can find the problems I'm having and offer solutions.

I just can't understand why the TV all of the sudden, is acting this way. We've lived here for 5+ years, and the issue only began after installing the AV receiver-- which is why I'm so set on finding out what ultimately led up to the mcb tripping, and why the light switch is still affecting the TV's input signal when it's connected to a device via HDMI.
 
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