Lights Get Real Bright

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  #1  
Old 03-09-02, 07:54 AM
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watchdog
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Lights are Brighter than Me

Thanks for looking at this message and especially thanks for any input you are kind enough to give.
Asside from the myrid of other problems with an old house and some other electrical issues I will only concentrate on the latest.
When I turn on the electric cloths dryer (220) the florescent lights in the basement get very bright-- at other times and not related to the dryer the lights in the house go dim constantly as though there are momentary brown outs... but back to the dryer. Once the dryer starts the lights brighten and stay brightened until the lights are turned on and then back on at which time they are again dim. If I cycle the dryer on and off they will again brighten. Just past the meter where the two lines from the power company come in are two fuses labeled REN 100 (250Volt). At the point where the two lines from the power company comes in and is conected to one side of the fuse it gets warm enough to feel the heat. At the other point where the fuses go to the household panel there is no heat. Nor are any other panels warm. One leg of the fuse registers 109 volts on a meter and the other leg registers 125 volts. (No appliances are on at this time). The power company came out and said it was in the household wireing. I can't make any sense out of that as it seems the power coming in is unbalanced and it seems logical that the problem is inbound (of course there may be other problems with the household wiring but that again logically would seem to be another issue). I have checked the outside wiring and althought it is old --- very old --- it seems to be ok. I am the only one on the transformer at the utility pole so the electric company says. The lines entering the house go through some trees and you can easily see that the lines are twisted together but the power company says on inspection that that is not the problem. I think the power company is blowing smoke but what do I know?
 

Last edited by watchdog; 03-09-02 at 09:10 AM.
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  #2  
Old 03-11-02, 09:29 AM
G
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Is your house wired with aluminum or copper wires?
The first thing I'd suggest doing is start checking all connections to see if they are tight.
A loose neutral can cause all sorts of problems including some of the ones your describing. Aluminmum wires are notorious for coming loose but copper wll too sometimes.

When doing this you must ask yourself how confident are you around power and deside if tightening the wires in the panel may best be left to an electrician, Whatever you do turn off the breakers to the wires you are working on.

I hope this helps you a little.
 
  #3  
Old 06-13-02, 02:37 PM
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watchdog
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Lights Get Real Bright

It is all copper and all are tight. The power company guy seems to think the ground wire from where the power comes in is not large enough (it is about quarter inch thick and copper to the plumbing). I can flip off circuit by circuit and none of the circuits seem to have any effect.
 
  #4  
Old 06-13-02, 03:06 PM
J
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There was a guy here about a year ago that had a problem that the lights in his basement came on every time he turned on the microwave. I thought he was on something for a while, but it turned out to be a loose neutral. A loose neutral in the panel or before the panel (usually the power company's ground) can cause really bizarre things, because they can cause one circuit to feed back power through other circuits.

The power company guy could be right, especially if you panel is unbalanced causing more than the typical amount of current to be flowing on the power company's ground. So check the balance of your panel too.

Get this fixed ASAP.
 
  #5  
Old 06-13-02, 03:46 PM
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watchdog
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Thanks,

The power on one leg comming in is 116 and 124 on the other. An aside when I start the washing machine the line is 117 while filling but drops to 87 when the motor starts and then bounces right back up. And when the cloths dryer is strated the folrescent lights brighten.
The power company put a new transformer and also checked for loose connections in my box and theirs.
Could the panel just be worn out, I guess anything is possible.
 
  #6  
Old 06-13-02, 04:36 PM
J
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Everything you said in your last post is consistent with everything that has been said earlier in this thread. Good luck finding the problem.
 
  #7  
Old 06-13-02, 05:47 PM
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Wgoodrich
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I would suggest that you pull the two 100 amp fuses and replace them. Sometimes you get a feed back through a water heater element etc. that carries the load of line two from line one. This would depict a possible blown fuse. If you replace both fuses and your problem disappears you had a blown main fuse in your main panel. Cheap test.

If it is not your main fuses then I would really start looking hard in your main panel and any connections between that main panel to the Utility company's connections and including their connections to your wires also including the connections within your meter base. If it is not a blown fuse creating a back feed then you have probably got a loose neutral conductor.

Turn off your main disconnect to your home and wiggle the big neutral conductors in your main panel looking for one that moves within its connection lug. Commonly the big wire connecting to your neutral bar. Then also while you are wiggling the neutral conductors look for any melted, bubbled insulation on any wire in that main panel or any signs such as discolored lugs or conductors at the point of connections of heating due to a loose connection. Also look for discolored fuse holders that are heating up due to a bad fuse connection.

Let us know what you find.

Wg
 
  #8  
Old 06-13-02, 06:12 PM
J
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Cool Wg. I hadn't thought of that. I mentioned that a disconnected neutral could cause the returning neutral current to flow back out another neutral and back through the other leg of the hot. But you advanced another scenario.

In your scenario, a disconnected hot could cause the returning 240-volt hot current to flow back out through another fuse into another circuit and returning on that circuit's neutral. In watchdog's case, I think your theory is more likely than mine. Note that your scenario can only occur when main fuses are used, not when a main breaker is used. But it does sound like watchdog has main fuses.

Note that if your theory is correct, then watchdog's clothes dryer must be working very poorly. It is getting less than 120 volts instead of 240 volts, so it must be drying the clothes very slowly, running longer than usual. Have you noticed this, watchdog? Follow Wg's suggestion and check and/or replace one or both of your main breakers.
 
  #9  
Old 06-13-02, 06:21 PM
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Wgoodrich
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John your feed back comment made me realize he had main fuses coming up with my thoughts on my last post. You helped on my thoughts without you know you helped pop it into my mind.

I have seen this often. You also have a feed back possibility through electric ranges, hot water heaters and ovens using the heating elements to energize the dead line.

Where I have my doubts on this one and lean toward your loose neutral thoughts is that he did not say he lost lights but only dimmed lights. This would lead me to think a loose neutral or even a loose hot feeder somewhere between the main service panel and the Utility company's transformer. His saying dimming could go either way being a blown main fuse, loose hot or neutral service entrance conductor or service drop wire.

Wg
 
  #10  
Old 06-14-02, 04:00 AM
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watchdog
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Thanks fellas,

One of the first things I did was replace the fuses. Checked rechecked and checked again all connections.
What I am going to do now is completetly disconnect circuit by circuit (not just turn off). I have a new panel ready to go in but I am determined to find the cause first. I guess I should start with the heavy users first - range - hot tub - pool - dryer (which by the way dries fine not slow at all) - hot water heater - fridge. Missed anything or any other suggestions appreicated?

Thanks again
 
  #11  
Old 06-15-02, 11:37 AM
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Wgoodrich
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Disconnect all branch circuits that have 220 volts. Disconnect all those 220 volt circuits at the breakers or fuses. This will eleminate any back feeding through those applainces. Then see fi you lose the lights that are getting brighter than normal. If you do not lose those lights with all 220 volt branch circuits de-energized then you eliminated the back feed idea. Then turn all branch circuits off at the panel and energize one circuit at a time making sure no other circuit is on while you test what is running on each individual branch circuit. This will point out a certain problem in a certain branch circuit. If all works normally then you have centered your problem to be from the main fuse block to the transformer.

HOpe this helps

Wg
 
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