Losing appliances

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Old 09-09-19, 10:22 PM
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Losing appliances

I am looking for any helpful information...we have lived in this 20 year old home for only 2 years. About a year ago we noticed some lights in house dimmed when air conditioner kicked on. It was brief dimming. We had a washing machine that was a few years old and the top of the agitator broke off during a spin cycle and had to be replaced about this same time. We had the power company check connections at our meter pole and transformer. We have about 20 ft of underground lines from our meter pole to home. After the power company checked the voltage and connections and found their side all good, we didn't notice the dimming for a long time. Recently our lights (neighbors see this also) would blink a couple of times a day for several days in a row. We contacted the power company and they checked it out and said possibly due to birds and they installed cover up on certain poles. Then the dimming with the air conditioner kicking on started again. Couple weeks later we kept smelling a hot burning plastic smell and found the dryer cord was hot and the inside of that outlet was melted inside. (separate outlet and breaker than washer) we got a new dryer and husband installed a new outlet. He thought the outlet was just old and decayed and the parts were loose causing a loose connection which heated up to melt it, but he insists he doesn't know much on electrical. Fast forward a few more weeks to now and we had storms overnight and now the 11 year old trane air conditioner has quit working and we're told the compressor is burned out because of power surges. There are no burn marks as if it was lightning.
My husband installed a dishwasher into this house the first year we moved into this house. He put it on the same circuit as other kitchen outlets and I thought the dishwasher was supposed to be on a separate circuit. My question is, does the loss of appliances sound related, and since power company can't find anything on their side, could this be a loose neutral or bad underground neutral on our side? Or is this just appliance issues and some bad luck? Does the dishwasher install have anything to do with these issues possibly? The washer, dryer and ac unit each have their own breakers. We are just nervous about a hazard and aren't sure where to start. HVAC guy said we could turn air conditioner into home owners insurance based on the storm because of lightning, but there are no burn marks. I have tried to contact a couple of electricians in our area based off of family referrals, but they haven't returned my calls which makes it difficult to continue to want to do business with them should they eventually return my call. Just not sure if this is all somehow related or where to start...
 
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Old 09-10-19, 12:05 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

We contacted the power company and they checked it out and said possibly due to birds and they installed cover up on certain poles.
That is one of the silliest things I've ever heard. That's like saying please go away and stop bothering us.

Lightning damage or damage from a surge does not have to leave any outward appearances. It would have to be a direct strike to be visible and you'd know if that happened.

A power problem wouldn't affect the integrity of the agitator in the washer.

He thought the (dryer) outlet was just old and decayed and the parts were loose causing a loose connection which heated up to melt it, but he insists he doesn't know much on electrical.
He is correct. A loose plug in the receptacle or wiring loose on the receptacle is a very common problem. The plug should fit very tight in the receptacle. The location where the power cord attaches to the back of the dryer is another notorious problem area for loose connections.

Everything that goes bad is blamed on power surges. There is no one definition for a power surge. If you have several interruptions in power in several seconds or minutes..... that can cause a surge. When all loads are disconnected and then reconnected during a power failure.... that momentary power spike can be a problem.

Typically your A/C is protected from momentary power interruptions but if they are fast enough.... it can be a problem.

It is very common to see the lights blink. There are usually several customers on a single transformer and any A/C unit starting on that transformer can make all the lights blink. I can tell when my neighbors power pig A/C comes on as all my lights momentarily blink. The more customers on a transformer and longer wiring away from the transformer exaggerates the problem.

You can buy an inexpensive digital test meter and take measurements of the power at several receptacles. This would be one way to spot a neutral problem. Usually with a neutral problem you will have certain lights dim and others get brighter.

The dishwasher by code is not supposed to be connected to the countertop small appliance circuits. However, connecting it to those receptacles should not cause any problems other than a possible tripped breaker from an overload.
 
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Old 09-10-19, 05:08 AM
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Make sure all the neutral connections at the breaker panel are tight, especially the one going to the meter. If this connection is intermittent, it can result in momentary higher nominal 120 voltages one one leg versus the other depending on the operating loads at the time of the intermittent.
 
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Old 09-10-19, 07:04 AM
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Several incandescent lights all about the house with 40 to 100 watt bulbs (all 60 watt preferred) can give a quick visual evidence of bad neutrals and loose connections. Move them to different rooms every so often.

If a light appears noticeably brighter than it should be then that is evidence of a bad neutral.

Or use a voltmeter and measure several receptacles in different rooms frequently. Make a note of when you observe an abnormally low or high voltage.

Use different receptacles for each measuring session.

Light brightness changes might not be as noticeable with compact fluorescent and LED lights.
 
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Old 09-10-19, 07:13 AM
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I'm curious, does your home have aluminum or copper wire? Was the house purchased from the original owners? I know of a lady who buys houses (especially one's that might be in bad shape) buys the cheapest possible items to fix them and just make it look good, then flips them.
 
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Old 09-11-19, 04:56 PM
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Norm201,
No, the previous owners were not the original owners. We have done some replacing on flooring and things of that nature, and it seems as though the original work is high quality, however when things were replaced then it was kind of a sloppy job. I don't think the previous owners were flipping this house, I think they moved out of state due to their elderly parents needing help. But I don't personally know them, so I cannot say for sure.

Thank you everyone for your help, I appreciate your responses and will share this info with my husband so we can try to get this figured out. I just hate to install another air conditioner and it get zapped too.
 
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Old 09-11-19, 07:03 PM
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We have copper wiring, sorry for not answering that part earlier.
We had a second HVAC person out and he found a bad connection. He asked if the first guy charged us, we told him no. The first guy had not charged for the trip because he said we would be paying for a new air unit and save our money. The second HVAC guy said well you can pay me to install a unit like you asked, but this is a bad connection and is usually $50 for trip and $30 bucks for the part to replace this bad connection, chewed by a mouse. You have two compressors on this unit and maybe the first guy just didn't want to mess with it, who knows. So...we paid this second man his $80 and a tip and are grateful for his honesty.

We will see if the lights are fixed now that the bad connection is repaired, and hoping that the dryer was just an old outlet that was too loose with a bad connection. And we will work on getting the dishwasher up to code with the money I'm "saving" on buying a new air conditioner. Thank you all, I am grateful for your knowledge and wisdom!
 
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Old 09-12-19, 09:41 AM
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Welcome to home ownership! Hopefully you won't continue having these problems, but as a homeowner you have to be prepared for them.

Everything that goes bad is blamed on power surges. There is no one definition for a power surge. If you have several interruptions in power in several seconds or minutes..... that can cause a surge.
This is soooo true! I had an air conditioner compressor lockup during several interruptions during a storm over no more than a period of 5 seconds (18 years ago). It was maybe 25 to 30 years old so no biggy. I am a firm believer in whole house surge protectors, maybe you should look into getting one for your house installed at you electric panel too.
 
 

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