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Old 05-16-2009, 10:36 AM   #1
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Air compressor woes, household electrical newbie here


Well pretty much as the title says. I purchased this compressor...

http://www.homedepot.com/webapp/wcs/...key=THDSiteMap

I plugged it into my garage outlet, which is a 14 gauge 20 amp circuit. I opened all the valves and allowed it to run to break in the compressor motor itself. When I was done with that, I closed the valves and turned it back on. It ran fine up to pressure when it shuts off. I used some air and when it went to kick back on, it just tried to turn about 1.5 revolutions and then the motor buzzed.

Its as if it cannot start back up under load. We had this plugged directly into an outlet that had two plugs in it. We checked the voltage on the other plug while turning the compressor on, and it drops from around 120v down to about 75.

If I have left out any crucial information I apologize as I am COMPLETELY new to working with electrical on the household. (Fairly experienced with automotive systems.)

I had read many many reviews of people using this unit on a 15 amp circuit (as the motor is marked) without issue. I figure we have 20 amp, so it SHOULD work fine. Also mind you that we turned everything in the garage off at the time of trying this and that made no difference.

What more information do you need to give me some ideas of what to do next. My dad knows a little bit about electrical from my mom's dad when he used to be an electrician. But we do not want to get too in over our heads. A fellow member of the fire department is also an electrician by trade so I will enlist his help next, but I wanted to see what I can research before then.

Thanks in advance for any help!
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Old 05-16-2009, 10:55 AM   #2
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Originally Posted by gasteffens View Post
I plugged it into my garage outlet, which is a 14 gauge 20 amp circuit.
???

Its as if it cannot start back up under load.

We checked the voltage on the other plug while turning the compressor on, and it drops from around 120v down to about 75.
Almost certainly you have a high resistance connection upstream of the compressor. It could be a bad house neutral connection at your panel.
If you plug in a 10A hair dryer into this outlet the voltage should drop no more than 4vac when the dryer is switched on.
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Old 05-16-2009, 11:00 AM   #3
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Originally Posted by Yoyizit View Post
Almost certainly you have a high resistance connection upstream of the compressor. It could be a bad house neutral connection at your panel.
If you plug in a 10A hair dryer into this outlet the voltage should drop no more than 4vac when the dryer is switched on.
I was honestly thinking that there would be something with resistance, because that is what causes the voltage to drop. Now you say a bad house neutral connection at the panel.

Now that you say that, I remember to mention we have one primary panel in the house, and it looks like one big wire running out to the barn where there is another panel. The garage runs off this panel.

That's good to know. Is this something I can find easy or should I have my electrician buddy help me do the more detailed diagnosis?

THANKS for the quick reply!!!
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Old 05-16-2009, 11:04 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by gasteffens View Post
Is this something I can find easy or should I have my electrician buddy help me do the more detailed diagnosis?
If one side of your house is at 75vac and the other side is at 240-75 = 165 then your neutral will have 165-120 = 45vac across it, instead of less than a volt.
Sometimes the bad connection is on the PoCo side of your meter.
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Old 05-16-2009, 11:12 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by Yoyizit View Post
If one side of your house is at 75vac and the other side is at 240-75 = 165 then your neutral will have 165-120 = 45vac across it, instead of less than a volt.
Sometimes the bad connection is on the PoCo side of your meter.

I see... I'm not sure if I described the situation correctly... with nothing on at the plug it is 120, but as soon as I load it down with turning the compressor on it drops to around 75... but it still sounds like a neutral issue with the way you are explaining it... I think I will have to have my friend come help, but at least I know maybe this can be fixed?
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Old 05-16-2009, 06:16 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gasteffens
I plugged it into my garage outlet, which is a 14 gauge 20 amp circuit.
???

Its as if it cannot start back up under load.

We checked the voltage on the other plug while turning the compressor on, and it drops from around 120v down to about 75.


Almost certainly you have a high resistance connection upstream of the compressor. It could be a bad house neutral connection at your panel.
If you plug in a 10A hair dryer into this outlet the voltage should drop no more than 4vac when the dryer is switched on. Today 10:36 AM



What I had meant was the wiring in the garage is 14 gauge with a 20 amp breaker on the circuit.
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Old 05-16-2009, 06:23 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gasteffens View Post
Quote:What I had meant was the wiring in the garage is 14 gauge with a 20 amp breaker on the circuit.
Somebody put the wrong breaker on that circuit. It should have a maximum 15A breaker. That probably has nothing to do with your problem, but if you run 20A through 14 gauge wire, you are creating a dangerous situation. Change the breaker to 15A.
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Old 05-16-2009, 06:34 PM   #8
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Somebody put the wrong breaker on that circuit. It should have a maximum 15A breaker. That probably has nothing to do with your problem, but if you run 20A through 14 gauge wire, you are creating a dangerous situation. Change the breaker to 15A.
Will do. My dad and I have been chasing odds and ends wiring issues with the house since we moved here... we will add this project to the list... thank you... any ideas on why it won't run the compressor? Any ways to check for the bad connection/wire that could cause the voltage drop?
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Old 05-16-2009, 07:11 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by gasteffens View Post
Any ways to check for the bad connection/wire that could cause the voltage drop?
If you have 75vac at one end of a cable and 120vac at the panel, the fault is between the two points.
Work your way back along each outlet until you see a big voltage change; that's where the problem is.
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Old 05-16-2009, 07:39 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by gasteffens View Post
Will do. My dad and I have been chasing odds and ends wiring issues with the house since we moved here... we will add this project to the list... thank you... any ideas on why it won't run the compressor? Any ways to check for the bad connection/wire that could cause the voltage drop?
Is this the first time you have had a problem in the garage? You might want to plug the compressor into another circuit and see if it works correctly.
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Old 05-16-2009, 09:15 PM   #11
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Yes this is the first time we have had a problem... however this is the first time we have had an electrical load as large as this put on the circuit. I happened to run into my electrician friend while I was running errands tonight and he is going to take a look Monday afternoon. I will report with my findings as for right now, the way it behaves is odd.

He suggested we try plugging the compressor in at the house directly and bypass the barn and garage systems and see if it's a problem with the whole house or just the extensions.
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Old 05-16-2009, 10:07 PM   #12
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It's a wild guess but it could likely be because voltage lags current when starting an inductive load, and your compressor certainly is an inductive load. But that's just a guess. If I get slammed for the next pages it'll be because I am wrong.
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Old 05-16-2009, 10:08 PM   #13
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How far away from the electric meter is the compressor? It sounds like there is a main panel at the house, and a sub-panel at the garage. If so, how far is the garage panel from the house panel? And what size is the breaker that feeds the garage panel? How far from the garage panel is the outlet for the compressor?

If long wires are involved here, this compressor might not work at all in the garage. Dropping down to 75 volts is quite a bit, it might be because of a problem somewhere in the system, or it might be a design problem.

Rob
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Old 05-17-2009, 02:41 AM   #14
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I don't know if you knew this or not did you check the unloader valve on the compressor ? for that model you should hear the popping sound when it cut off { when it get to the max pressure or pressure switch kick out }

The other thing that other guys did ask you the question how far is your breaker box to the compressor location?

Also double check the motor connection to see if you are really on 120 volt connection inside the motor junction box { some case the factory can get this on wrong voltage hook up and it do happend once a while so look at the connections }

Merci,Marc
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Old 05-17-2009, 09:28 AM   #15
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To drop 120-75 = 45v with 15A being pulled through #14 copper you'd need 580' of Romex.
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