Electrical service problems: help needed

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Old 03-24-19, 07:29 AM
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Electrical service problems: help needed

Going crazy trying to diagnose a problem and really could use some help. One of the legs coming into my house is dropping voltage intermittently. This started last year, Iíd see dimming lights in the house. Checked incoming voltage, one leg 118, the other 95. Up and down though, sporadic drops. Call the power company, they come out. Had them come on 3 separate occasions, when they left the last time problem was gone.

Fast forward to about a month ago. Problem is back. This seems to happen after a wind storm. By the third day itís really bad. I check voltage, 30 volts on that leg. Intermittently though. Call power company, they say thereís no problem. I check every connection in my panel, all right. With every breaker on that leg turned off, voltage holds steady. I pull every breaker out of the panel, install just one on that leg, it lowers my kitchen lights. Turn it on, voltage down below 30. Turn it off, remove it, install one for my bathroom lights on that leg. Turn it on, voltage down befow thirty. So itís not a single circuit.

Get the power company to come out and change the main line from transformer on the pole to the house. Found breaks in the line where it was shorting out. Figured we got it. 5 days later, problem is back. I had them put a recorder on it. Their voltage never went below 115. Wtf.

Fri I installed a new main breaker. By the next morning, same problem. Iím almost at a loss. Iím going to change the feed line from meter to my panel and then Iím out of ideas. Anyone got any ideas?
 
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Old 03-24-19, 08:12 AM
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Is there dead grass under the transformer? I know strange question but I had a customer with the same problem and the Poco swore no problem. There was and they knew it but it was an old transformer leaking PCBs into the ground and they were putting off replacing because of the cost of correcting the environmental damage done.Customer came home from work one day yo find a new transformer and workers in hazmat suits removing contaminated soil from around the pole.
 
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Old 03-24-19, 08:23 AM
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The transformer is on the pole. Iíve checked with neighbors and they are not seeing an issue.
 
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Old 03-24-19, 08:25 AM
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We cannot rule out your main breaker or connections before it as the problem.
Next step, you would want someone with experience to measure the hot to neutral voltage at the big lugs at the top of your panel while you flip small breakers down below one at a time, on and off. (Just two breakers, one on each power leg, feeding receptacles preferably near the panel where you have a hair dryer plugged in asneeded, is enough for this test.)

After that, someone from the power company measuring hot to neutral at the meter while someone else in the house is turning the hair dryer on and off (test both legs).
 
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Old 03-24-19, 08:32 AM
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Iíve taken reading from hot to neutral. Intermittently, it reads 118ish on the right leg (good leg), 117ish on the left (bad leg). When all hell breaks loose (any load at all), voltage on the right remains the same, left goes down around to 8 volts.

Taking a reading at the meter with a load shows a voltage drop of about 2v total.
 
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Old 03-24-19, 08:50 AM
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But thereís never been a reading at the meter when Iím experiencing a voltage drop. Itís sporadic, whenever theyíve been here it wasnít doing it
 
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Old 03-24-19, 09:23 AM
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Itís sporadic, whenever theyíve been here it wasnít doing it

Intermittent problems can be hard to diagnose and find. Have the connections at the weatherhead and inside the meter socket been checked yet?
 
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Old 03-24-19, 09:26 AM
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Yes all connections at the riser, coming into the meter, and leaving the meter have all been checked.
 
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Old 03-24-19, 09:48 AM
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Taking a reading at the meter with a load shows a voltage drop of about 2v total.
There's the key. If the power is ok at the meter then it's definitely your problem. I'm assuming the meter cover is not sealed. Good. You've checked at the top of the meter..... does the bottom of the meter agree ?

If yes..... you need to check the wiring where it connects to the main breaker.
If that's ok it's the breaker or its connection to the panel.
 
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Old 03-24-19, 09:55 AM
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PJ, the voltage coming into the meter shows no voltage drop below 115. Itís never been checked at the bottom of the meter when thereís a voltage drop. Itís intermittent so itís never been a problem while they are here.

And two days ago Iíve installed a brand new main breaker. Tomorrow Iím picking up a feed line from meter to panel. After that, Iím at a loss.
 
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Old 03-24-19, 10:52 AM
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Jumping in on this one. Pole mounted transformer, I will bet it is old. Do your neighbors come off the SAME transformer or do they have their own? I will bet that the neutral/ground inside the transformer or on the exterior connection is either loose or weak. I had this on a 3 phase wild leg, (120-180-120) service. Drove us nuts till I discovered the arcy sparky connection at the transformer. Utility was not happy to replace the transformers.
I am surprised your voltage is so low, mine typically is closer to 125v
Yes the main breaker might be the issue I doubt it. Do you know anyone with a DLRO, check the resistance of the breaker closed and not energized. (digital low resistance ohmmeter not a tool you would want to purchase)
If the breaker was the problem it would be all of the time not intermittent.
When they did the recordings did they have a chart for phase to phase.? Did that vary during the low voltage issues? If it did not then we are back to the neutral and the ground at the transformer and your service.
Have you checked your grounding and bonding? You need a special meter for this an ohm meter will not work. Spend a few minutes and check the ground and bond connections. DO NOT LOOSEN these connections unless you open the main breaker. Floating voltages can destroy all of your high tech toys. Your utility would have this ground tester and might be nice enough to do it for you.

My gut says the problem is located at the utilities transformer. Has any one checked the ground wire coming down the pole. People do steal those on occasion.
 
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Old 03-24-19, 10:55 AM
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@ drangd ......... the voltage at the top of the meter has been confirmed as ok.

So the meter is open or resealed ?
I would severely doubt it's the cable between the meter and the main unless it's spliced.
An intermittent jaw on the meter is a common problem. Can't rule out a bad meter either.
 
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Old 03-24-19, 11:01 AM
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When doing your testing turn off any 240-volt breakers you have (except main) You could be getting readings through those circuits. You could also be reading through any multiwire circuits.
 
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Old 03-24-19, 12:00 PM
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All great thoughts guys, however most have been proven not to be it. The transformer is shared with at least one neighbor. That are not seeing an issue. To further that thought, a recorder was placed at the meter (top of meter I believe but will confirm tomorrow with electric company) and it never seen a voltage drop below 115. Meanwhile in the house I was seeing volts around 8 or 9. So anything before meter has been eliminated as an issue.

Can take main breaker out of the equation as I changed it Fri. Iíve done testing with every single breaker removed from the panel including 240v, so that can also be eliminated. On my end, the only thing left is the feed from meter to my panel, which is not spliced and is only about 6í long. Tomorrow I will pick that up and have them come remove the meter so I can replace. The meter is sealed sadly, so I cannot do any work or testing in there.
 
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Old 03-24-19, 12:34 PM
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Ok.... the meter is sealed.
As an electrician we routinely cut seals off in case of an emergency. You don't want to that.

In order to test..... you do need some 120v circuits online. Put some on each bus/leg.
Try to test right where the wires connect to the main breaker...... not the breaker lugs.
If you see problems.... guaranteed it's the meter/pan.

I see it quite often and usually it means a meter pan replacement as the lugs/jaws can be hard to find. If you put enough load on it and get the voltage to drop a lot..... put your ear near the meter.... you may be able to hear it sizzling.
 
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Old 03-25-19, 06:35 AM
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I've checked at the main feed coming into the main, not at the lug but actually on the cable right before it attaches to the breaker. Still see the voltage drop. One of the things that always bothers me is that this issue usually happens after we have a decent amount of wind. I'm going to call the gentleman with the power company today to speak with him about the likelihood of the meter or base being bad, and schedule them to com in and pull it. I am going to change the main feed out and after that I can't see how the issue would be on my end.

I've racked my brain and tried everything I can think of. If the damn meter wasn't sealed I would have been able to do a lot more testing, however when I told them I was going to open it they threw a fit. So probably won't go down that road!
 
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Old 03-25-19, 07:58 AM
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Quick "update". Just got off the phone with the gentleman who's been working with me from the power company. He put an order in this morning to have my meter replaced. I'm going to wait until that's done and go from there, I'm not big on just changing parts for the hell of it. If that doesn't work I'm going to swap the feed from meter to panel.
 
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Old 03-25-19, 04:56 PM
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They will replace the meter for free. It's their meter.
If the pan has the problem.... you'll need to change that.
 
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Old 03-26-19, 06:55 AM
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I came home to my clocks flashing so I assume they replaced the meter yesterday. Had a convo with the elect company. They replaced my meter on 12-8-1017 (unbeknownst to me). I started complaining about issues shortly there after.....coincidence? Maybe.

So last night I put all my connections back to where they were to start with and so far so good. What I wish I had was a voltage recorder. I'd like to monitor voltage throughout the day since it is an intermittent issue. But, the things are expensive and with just this one issue it doesn't seem worth spending the money.
 
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Old 03-26-19, 07:37 PM
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Great..... made some headway. I have a feeling your problem is not permanently gone.
I think it may come back and if it does you'll need to change the meter pan.
 
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Old 03-27-19, 08:46 AM
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Oddly, they said they found a loose lug. But last month when I had the meter pulled to check connections, they said the lugs were tight. So.....I don't know.

So far no issues but that's this things MO. I find something, fix it, 3 days later all hell breaks loose. If/when it returns I'll be installing a new meter box and feed line.
 
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Old 03-27-19, 01:46 PM
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Last time they probably just looked. This time they may have put a wrench on it and it tightened.
 
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Old 03-28-19, 05:25 AM
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Very well could be. The part about that which irritates me is I specifically had them come down and pull the meter to check any connections. I went through the panel, I went through the main feed coming in, he was to go through the meter box. At the time I didn't know it was mine, I assumed the box and meter was theirs. I know better now.
 
 

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