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Old 03-24-2014, 01:22 PM   #1
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440 Transformer Issues


First let me assure anyone that reads this that I AM NOT A DIY PERSON IN THIS CASE. 440v scares the crap out of me.

we have a 440v transformer on a club house. Normally when the club house is not in use we keep the circuit breakers off to conserve energy for the landlord.

Last couple of weeks when we turn on the breakers the hum from the transformer has been lower than normal, and our over head fluorescents flicker on and off for a few minutes. If I turn on a single bank of fluorescents they will not flicker, and afer 2-5 minutes the transformer will "kick' back in. You can hear the volume of the hum come up to normal, and all the lights will work fine for the rest of the day.

We've had an electrician take a look, but were not able to reproduce the issue while he was there.

2 questions.

Are we in danger of starting a fire.
Are we in danger of blowing up the transformer?
Any idea what might be the issue. Eg are we looking at a new transformer or could it be just a bad breaker?

Ok sorry three questions.

Thanks,
Steve

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Old 03-24-2014, 01:31 PM   #2
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440 Transformer Issues


The question that comes to mind is why do you need a 440vAC Transformer, and why not just turn off the light switches, vs. the circuit breakers.

This is a job that a licensed Electrician needs to take care of. Not some handyman or tenant.

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Old 03-24-2014, 01:44 PM   #3
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440 Transformer Issues


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Originally Posted by gregzoll View Post
The question that comes to mind is why do you need a 440vAC Transformer, and why not just turn off the light switches, vs. the circuit breakers.

This is a job that a licensed Electrician needs to take care of. Not some handyman or tenant.
Greg,

Thanks for the response, but it didn't really help me with the questions.

I'm not sure if the 440 transformer came with the building when we bought it used and moved it. Or if it's the power to the museum that we reside in. But really it's not germane to my questions.

Switches vs breakers. No clue, it's the process as described when I joined. I'll probably fix this when we get the repairs. I would guess that it's a guaranteed way that our 6 AC units, all the lights, etc get turned off. I would bet a $1 to a doughnut that over the years members leaving have left all kinds of stuff running.

NO KIDDING. I AIN'T TOUCHING IT. What I'm trying to figure out is if I should shut the club down for a couple of weeks, or just bear with it 'till the electrician gets back with us.
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Old 03-24-2014, 01:47 PM   #4
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440 Transformer Issues


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Originally Posted by Cuthahotha View Post
Greg,

Thanks for the response, but it didn't really help me with the questions.

I'm not sure if the 440 transformer came with the building when we bought it used and moved it. Or if it's the power to the museum that we reside in. But really it's not germane to my questions.

Switches vs breakers. No clue, it's the process as described when I joined. I'll probably fix this when we get the repairs. I would guess that it's a guaranteed way that our 6 AC units, all the lights, etc get turned off. I would bet a $1 to a doughnut that over the years members leaving have left all kinds of stuff running.

NO KIDDING. I AIN'T TOUCHING IT. What I'm trying to figure out is if I should shut the club down for a couple of weeks, or just bear with it 'till the electrician gets back with us.
It is alittle annoying at times when posts aren't answered but this time gregzoll answered properly.

to answer you questions in post 1.. yes (maybe not the breaker though)

changing my thought on the breaker......... to also yes, it's possible

Last edited by UnclePhil; 03-24-2014 at 01:52 PM.
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Old 03-24-2014, 01:54 PM   #5
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440 Transformer Issues


It sounds like perhaps one phase of the breaker is not making contact properly. There is a risk of damaging equipment, especially motors (like in your HVAC equipment). Cycling the breaker repeatedly on and off may help. Or it might make it worse! Either way, an electrician should check this out in more detail to diagnose what the problem is. It certainly seems like a lost phase though.
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Old 03-24-2014, 02:01 PM   #6
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440 Transformer Issues


Just wanted to mention too... a museum club house sounds cool.

The transformer..... does it power your lights and equipment.... ot does it power other transformers that power you lighting and equipment...

Either way, it sounds large, and not to be something that's turned off daily like a light switch.
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Old 03-24-2014, 02:03 PM   #7
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440 Transformer Issues


Uncle Phil,

Thanks.

MP,

Thanks. The electrician is getting a new main breaker (before the transformer) for us as a first step in the diagnosis. (assuming he isn't there while the issue is happening and can put a meter on it.)

I made sure all of our AC units are off, so I think we're safe there.

The club has had the procedure of turning off the breaker before the transformer for years. Gut feel cycling that breaker several times a week as worn it out.
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Old 03-24-2014, 02:07 PM   #8
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440 Transformer Issues


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Originally Posted by UnclePhil View Post
Just wanted to mention too... a museum club house sounds cool.

The transformer..... does it power your lights and equipment.... ot does it power other transformers that power you lighting and equipment...

Either way, it sounds large, and not to be something that's turned off daily like a light switch.
More than cool Unc. We';re a model train club with 3600sf building inside of a 55 acre steam and gas engine museum. (yes steam driven tractors, not steam locomotives). I think the 440 is there because just about every exhibit has some major machine shop associated.

The consensus of opinion is that we should not flick on/off the power and just enforce the rules around closing up the section house.

Powers lights, AC. All of our train stuff is with other transformers.
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Old 03-24-2014, 03:59 PM   #9
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440 Transformer Issues


cold ambients will effect that secondary power going out and adding a load is what your experiencing try it left on all night them hit the lights..
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Old 03-24-2014, 04:08 PM   #10
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cold ambients will effect that secondary power going out and adding a load is what your experiencing try it left on all night them hit the lights..
Biggles,

Thanks for the response.

Thought about that. I don't know if our version of "cold" is enough to be material. We've been in the mid 50s at night in the past couple of months. We've had a pretty mild winter even for So Cal standards.

The last week we've been using the breaker on the main breaker panel (between transformer and building) and leaving the transformer energized. Still had the same issue yesterday and again (after the original post here) today.

Steve
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Old 03-24-2014, 04:41 PM   #11
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440 Transformer Issues


Turning on and off the circuit breakers can cause issues with surges. Also not having the hvac on, puts more wear on the exhibits then most people realize, along with it causes electrical contacts to corrode, due to if you are in an area that has a high humidity, and/or salt air.

If this is a large facility, it should have 3 phase service coming in. The 440 Transformer is most likely for one particular piece of equipment.

I would say to leave this up to a qualified company to service the problem, not to us to determine. Because we could be guessing all day long on what is wrong, which will not help you at all.
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Old 03-24-2014, 04:45 PM   #12
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440 Transformer Issues


Quote:
Originally Posted by UnclePhil View Post
It is alittle annoying at times when posts aren't answered but this time gregzoll answered properly.

to answer you questions in post 1.. yes (maybe not the breaker though)

changing my thought on the breaker......... to also yes, it's possible
Changing the breaker is not going to solve the problem. The problem is that the OP needs to leave these questions up to the company that comes in to examine and determine what exactly is the problem. That 440 Transformer could be as old as dirt.

Since the OP does not know what it is for. He needs to contact the owners and have them call in a licensed electrician/company, to make the determination of what is exactly wrong.

I have seen 400 amp Circuit breakers on a 3 phase system, get the side blown out of them, with no one even touching them. It was due to a phase imbalance between ship to shore.

The same thing can happen in a building if people do not know what they are doing. The same goes with flipping off circuit breakers that are not meant to be used as switches.
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Old 03-24-2014, 05:29 PM   #13
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440 Transformer Issues


To fix this problem is going to involve doing tests on live lines.
Are you up to this ?
Me thinks not !
You have already said that 440v scares you !
So it should too !

It's not a simple fix.
could be faulty switch gear !
or even faulty tranny !

Not a job for that faint hearted.
Call an experienced electrician in please !
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Old 03-24-2014, 05:32 PM   #14
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440 Transformer Issues


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Originally Posted by dmxtothemax View Post
To fix this problem is going to involve doing tests on live lines.
Are you up to this ?
Me thinks not !
You have already said that 440v scares you !
So it should too !

It's not a simple fix.
could be faulty switch gear !
or even faulty tranny !

Not a job for that faint hearted.
Call an experienced electrician in please !
No worries on that part. I'm hell on wheels for electronics, but straight up electrical stuff is not my cuppa. I get nervous changing out a light switch...

Electrician's been there, IM just tryin' to get educated a little.
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Old 03-25-2014, 07:04 AM   #15
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440 Transformer Issues


Don't forget to post back after the PRO fixes your problem, you peaked our interest.

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