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Old 10-17-2012, 01:02 AM   #1
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3 Blown Transformers


I manage a fraternity house as one of my part time jobs. We've had a strange electrical problem that has popped up a few times recently.

A transformer that feeds the house and a few of the neighboring houses has blown 3 times in the last year. It did it again during an event we were having last Sunday night. I'm beginning to wonder if something about the house is causing the transformer to blow? Is this plausible? We were just wrapping up a "work day" and were preparing a dinner when the failure occurred. We're 100% electric and almost everything was on that could have been. Windows had been open to be washed, so heat was likely on, plus water heaters, the entire kitchen, and laundry equipment.

We've never had any trouble with breakers blowing within the house and everything was wired by a professional electrical contractor 5 years ago during a remodel. Is it possible that the power company might be "failing" with their transformer installations?

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Old 10-17-2012, 05:37 AM   #2
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hey, did the transformers "blow" or did the fuses "blow"? big difference. If fuses it was an overload or a squirrel (aka tree rat). Does the transformer have wildlife protection? If it was the transformer, then defective (doubtful) and up to an all day repair with two line crews. A fuses takes a couple of minutes once trobleman is on site.

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Old 10-17-2012, 06:19 AM   #3
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There is nothing in the house that could "blow" a transformer. And since this feeds seveal houses why do you suspect yours is the problem?

This is a POCO transformer. They'll fix, repair or replace it at their discretion. If it is too small and they keep replacing it with the same one there is nothing you can do to sway or help them. POCO's are a stubborn group.
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Old 10-17-2012, 07:09 AM   #4
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Some electric companies may determine the size of the transformer based on the electric bills of the "houses" or whatever that are connected to that transformer. And they may assume the usage is somewhat spread out over a month - i.e. not using a WHOLE LOT of electricity at one time.

With that said, do some calling around at your electric company and see if you can find the electrical engineer who is in charge of determining the size of your transformer. Explain to him that at least your house is a frat house and you have parties sometimes where EVERYTHING in the house is on (unusual for a residential house). If your neighbors do the same at the same time, tell him about that as well.

Then maybe they will factor that in when determining the size of the transformer.
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Old 10-17-2012, 09:20 AM   #5
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It blew around 6PM and the guys tell me they had no power till "the next morning" which probably means they just went to bed.

The reason why I think this is related to us is because the last time this happened there was a similar situation with the cooking going on.
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Old 10-17-2012, 09:43 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelson View Post
It blew around 6PM and the guys tell me they had no power till "the next morning" which probably means they just went to bed.

The reason why I think this is related to us is because the last time this happened there was a similar situation with the cooking going on.
Any idea how long the actual repair took, once the PoCo technician arrived?

Are the other houses served by the same transformer "normal" residences, or are they also fraternity houses? If they're also fraternities, then their usage pattern is similar to yours. In addition to cooking dinner, about the same time of day there will be lots of brothers in their rooms, with lights, computers, etc. all on. Probably several guys taking showers (hot water) or doing laundry (hot water plus dryer). All of the houses could be at peak usage at more or less the same time.

A key fact is that the problem is at the transformer, not at your service entrance. You haven't said that your main circuit breaker is tripping, so your house's consumption is within expectations. You really need to get the PoCo to re-evaluate the rating on its transformer.
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Old 10-17-2012, 04:26 PM   #7
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I do not know how long the repair took however I know it was pretty major in the "over 5 hours" range. Don't know how much of that was work time and how much of it was waiting for stuff. The other houses nearby are just residences. Single family mostly and a gas station.
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Old 10-17-2012, 04:29 PM   #8
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I called the power company today and their answers were pretty vague. They confirmed that it was a transformer failure but they just said "but are you experiencing and problems now".

And no, we never blow breakers anywhere.
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Old 10-17-2012, 06:26 PM   #9
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hey, the following info is about 15 yrs old and only applies to the electric utility I worked for. My knowledge is that most utilities work on trouble calls 24/7/365, ours did. AT night or during major outages it may take longer for a visible response by the customer. A transformer change out without complications may take several hrs by two line crews depending on how much equipment is hung on the pole .

generally when you call you are handled by a cust. serv rep. ask to be transferred to consumer service (a higher level). they can investigate the situation.

Is this house billed out as a residential or a commercial account? If commercial, it may be easier to escalate the inquiry to the higher level.

after my co was bought our cust service dropped significantly as many of us lost our jobs. Reliability dropped for quit a while (several years, but now is better) as merger problems are never transparent.

just my thoughts.

bernie
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Old 10-17-2012, 06:27 PM   #10
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Sounds like the transformer is being overloaded !
Which means it is NOT big enough for the required loading.
You should approach the poco and ask for a bigger tranny !
Put everything in writting.
It might not be easy, but you dont know until you try.
And you dont get ! If you dont ask !
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Old 10-17-2012, 09:28 PM   #11
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OMG! I just got a call from one of the guys and they've got no power again! Went out at 6:15 this evening and it's the same group of houses and that gas station!

Same scenario as before. They said guys were getting home, the cook was making dinner using the cooktop and broilers, and there was someone in the shower. Some of the heaters were likely on because it was a cool day. BAM, same crap as Sunday!
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Old 10-17-2012, 10:24 PM   #12
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File a complaint with the POCO. They obviously have an issue that is not being dealt with properly.
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Old 10-17-2012, 10:52 PM   #13
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Go to poco grab a heap of complaint forms,
Take one to everybody in the street !
And get everybody effectted to complain !
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Old 10-17-2012, 11:42 PM   #14
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If this is a recurring problem, I'd take it up with the public utilities commissioner.

It seems to me that there is some sort of educated idiot engineer at the poco who refuses to admit that he is wrong and will not specify a larger transformer. Believe me, this happens all the time.

If the PUC will get involved, the poco will make the service reliable, or face pretty good-sized fines. Not to mention a black eye when it asks for another rate increase.

Rob
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Old 10-18-2012, 09:31 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by michaelson View Post
I called the power company today and their answers were pretty vague. They confirmed that it was a transformer failure but they just said "but are you experiencing and problems now".
The people who answer the phones do not know a thing about anything electrical.

You need to talk to someone in "Engineering". Normally the engineers would be called into the picture if someone was increasing their electrical service or a new electrical service was being added.

It is possible no one consults with them about "repairs" like this. Also possible different crews are coming out each time and no one realizes this has happened so many times!

Might also talk to the guys on the repair crew and tell them how many times this has happened - suggest they install a larger capacity transformer.

The "squeaky wheel get the grease" - be a squeaky wheel!

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