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Old 02-05-2008, 09:50 PM   #16
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All incandescent lights in my house are dim.


I am so glad I found ya'll. Our light bulbs have been going out a lot. Ya'll are full of useful info and I really appreciate it.

You mentioned ground and I have a question.

When I built the house and wired it I failed to ground my meter pan. I have the materials and have alreayd drove the ground rod 5 feet into the ground. The thing is I never opened the meter pan and ran the copper wire to the rod and meter pan. I understand I am taking a risk and will be taking care of this soon. Stupid me should have done it when the Poco guy was at my meter yesterday. Have I caused any damage myself that could surface years later by not grounding the meter pan?

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Old 02-05-2008, 11:31 PM   #17
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All incandescent lights in my house are dim.


Well I can say this: The ground rod needs to be driven and the wire needs to be terminated in the meter. The meter also needs to be be bonded to the panel. I'll probably get a little flak for this but here goes. The ground rod outside is largely for the protection of the meter against lightning strikes. There I said it. While it definitely figures into the grounding picture, this is in fact, its main function. You should take care of it at your earliest convienence. Perhaps tomorrow.
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Old 02-05-2008, 11:33 PM   #18
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All incandescent lights in my house are dim.


I have to assume that you've established a ground at the water pipe. Don't get the impression the rod isn't important. It is. But the water ground is critical. (other types of grounding aside)
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Old 02-06-2008, 02:07 AM   #19
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I have to assume that you've established a ground at the water pipe. Don't get the impression the rod isn't important. It is. But the water ground is critical. (other types of grounding aside)
I will try and explain what I am working with.

I live in a rural area on 3 acres. My water meter is over 200 ft from the house across the road. PVC water line runs form the road to my house. The only metal pipes is the plumbing in the house and foundation. There is no metal pipe in the ground. How do I ground the water pipe or is it even possible? Also, you said bond the meter pan to the panel. What gauge wire and do i connect it to the neutral/ground bar in the panel? The panel is 200 AMP.

thanks!
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Old 02-06-2008, 10:58 AM   #20
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All incandescent lights in my house are dim.


If the water pipe exiting your house for the water main or well is non-metallic, then the plumbing system is not a ground. You would be grounding the water system to the electrical system (via any ground rod), not grounding the electrical system via a water pipe.

If I remember correctly, you use a #6 or heavier wire to interconnect (bond) the water pipe if applicable, the main panel, the meter box, and the ground rod.

Do not use a gas pipe as a ground.

Last edited by AllanJ; 02-06-2008 at 11:01 AM.
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Old 02-06-2008, 11:11 AM   #21
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All incandescent lights in my house are dim.


So long as the neutrals throughout your house are bonded back to the utility transformer serving your house, with adequately sized conductors, you should not have a floating neutral problem. Most neutral problems are inside the house but broken neutrals going out to the pole are not unheard of.

Technically a pole transformer delivering 120/240 volt power has a secondary center tap for the neutral. This is the proper "current return point" for all the current the transformer delivers, not any earth ground. This center tap should be tied to the ground system in/on the utility poles which includes wires going down to the (earth) ground on selected poles.

Fifty years ago and before, it was not unusual for the house nearest the transformer to have 130 volts while the house furthest away had 105 volts, with further variations depending on load. This should be less of a problem today as utility companies upgraded pole wires and transformers.

Last edited by AllanJ; 02-06-2008 at 11:20 AM.
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Old 02-06-2008, 11:44 AM   #22
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All incandescent lights in my house are dim.


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Nominal voltage varies based on a lot of factors. In my house it's 126volts. My neighbors got damn near 250 between phases. But I look outside my alley window and there's the transformer. Guy down the street may not be so high. There is an acceptable range of voltages to expect.
Good point about proximity of transformer.

I would assume that the POCO replaced the bad transformer with one of at least equivalent size. If some reason (god would only know why) they installed a smaller one, voltage could be down due to loading. Of course, your measured voltage is well within normal limits so I doubt it.

On the other hand, the existing one could have been excessively "tapped up" to account for a low voltage situation which may have made the local secondary voltage somewhat high. Later perhaps, the POCO installed another distribution transformer(s) nearby to support load growth which would have improved voltage in a marginally overloaded system. Then the higher tapped unit's voltage would likely have become excessive.

Who knows! It's all speculation at this point!

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Old 02-06-2008, 11:47 PM   #23
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Well it sounds like the water pipe ground is out. You say you have PVC running to the home. That's OK. As Allan pointed out you can use ground rods and again he is correct in saying that #6 will do for a 200 A service. I'll be honest here and say I don't really have a lot of experience in grounding these types of systems and am shaky on NEC requirements in these conditions. There are others here who can fill you in on this. I do know that your resistance to ground should measure no higher than 25 ohms.

I don't want to get on a tangent about floating neutrals but they do occur if improper grounding is employed. Yes your potentials are based at POCO transformers, but ultimately, if your ground is not an equipotential, you will have variable voltage readings. Don't get nervous, we'll figure this all out. I'm sure you'll be fine in the interum.
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Old 02-07-2008, 05:09 PM   #24
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All incandescent lights in my house are dim.


Goose...one reads and learns...electricians forums what a terrific idea . .I am hunting a mystery on some pole lights at an Mobile Home park . .and you just made me think of another item to check that I had not
thanks for prodding my old brain
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Old 02-08-2008, 11:26 PM   #25
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All incandescent lights in my house are dim.


The earth ground can be connected to the neutral in the meter can, or the service drop, or the first means of disconnect. If you have a main on the meter, you should be able to open the side with the main in it and attach the ground to the neutral there. If you just have a sealed meter, and the main is inside in the panel, run your ground wire inside to the panel, and place it on the ground bar, which should be bonded to the neutral if it is the first disconnect.

I would not recommend trying to attach it to the neutral at the service drop..

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Old 02-09-2008, 06:12 PM   #26
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I would check the voltage at the panel. Open the cover (CAREFULLY!!) and use your voltmeter (hopefully digital) to read between:
1. Measure each phase to ground. That is to say, Touch one lead to one wire on your main breaker and the other lead on ground. Repeat for the other wire. These measurements should be approximately 120 volts.

2. Measure phase to phase. Take a lead and put it on one wire of the main breaker, and the other lead to the other wire of the main breaker. This measurement should be around 240 volts.

3.Measure Phase to neutral. One lead on the main breaker, the other on the neutral bar (the one with all the white wires). Repeat for other wire of main breaker. This should also be about 120 volts.

4. I know this sounds dumb BUT: Measure between neutral and ground. One lead on neutral bus, one lead on ground. This should be 0 volts. You may read some low level transient voltage. Let us know what these readings are and there might be some more we could tell you.
I can't believe you're telling a DIY'er to open the panel box and measure voltage on the mains!
This is ridiculously dangerous unless you are experienced.
Have an electrician do the job!!!
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Old 02-10-2008, 10:48 PM   #27
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All incandescent lights in my house are dim.


Apologies to all. I never want to put people in harms way. I will try and curtail my reckless endangerment of others and stick to basics. Sometimes my enthusiasm for problem solving gets the better of me.
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Old 02-11-2008, 09:11 AM   #28
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All incandescent lights in my house are dim.


goose134;
Thank you for your kind, caring reply. After posting my comment, I wasn't sure what kind of response I might get. Some people become defensive, and flame out a post like the one I made.

People like you make visiting this forum more enjoyable, and productive.
Thanks

FW
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Old 02-11-2008, 05:58 PM   #29
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All incandescent lights in my house are dim.


Is it hazardous to attach a new ground wire up in the air connected to the bare wire that serves as the neutral and ground and support wire for the service drop?

You can probably attach a ground wire to the outside of the meter can/pan/box and achieve bonding but leave some slack so an electrician who opens the meter later can attach it inside.

Your phase to phase, phase to ground, etc. voltage measurements can all be done from your main panel, but if you are uncomfortable in the least bit, you should get an electrician to do it.

Last edited by AllanJ; 02-11-2008 at 06:00 PM.
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Old 02-11-2008, 06:15 PM   #30
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All incandescent lights in my house are dim.


If your voltage is too low, then it is likely that other homes on the same transformer will have the same problem. Ask your neighbors if they are experiencing any trouble.
You did say that the utility company has already checked this though.

If you had a bad ground, the problem might be lights too bright!
It may sound strange, but I can explain, if someone else hasn't already.

FW

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