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Old 10-02-2008, 09:48 PM   #1
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Bright Lights


When the microwav, refrigerator, or washing machine goes on, ALL the lights in the entirte house become brighter. It's driving me crazy. What's going on?

All new wiring and service. Electric company checked out lines to house but still occuring. Not aluminum wiring.

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Old 10-02-2008, 10:27 PM   #2
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Bright Lights


This is a classic indication of an open neutral. You've already called the POCO, which is the first step I'd suggest. Since they didn't find anything, you should get an electrician out to look into it as soon as possible. This problem can cause high voltages on your 120 Volt circuits--possibly as high as 240V, which may destroy equipment plugged into that circuit.

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Old 10-02-2008, 10:38 PM   #3
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Exactly what is an open neutral? Is it a neuitral wire NOT connected somewhere? or a neutral wire connected to a hot wire?
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Old 10-02-2008, 10:43 PM   #4
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Exactly what is an open neutral? Is it a neuitral wire NOT connected somewhere? or a neutral wire connected to a hot wire?

It can be a not connected neutral, but is most likely a loose neutral. This is a very dangerous situation, and is actually very common. You need to get an electrician out there to check it out. It shouldn't cost much anyways.
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Old 10-02-2008, 11:22 PM   #5
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I will contact an electrician, but what Exactly is happening with a loose neutral? Is it most likely in the panal or in any receptical or junction box?
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Old 10-02-2008, 11:38 PM   #6
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I will contact an electrician, but what Exactly is happening with a loose neutral? Is it most likely in the panal or in any receptical or junction box?
The neutral carries the unbalance of current between the two hot conductors at the service or in a multiwire circuit (as electricians call it). What this means is, you have two hot conductors that have 240 volts between them, and a neutral that is at 120 volts between it and either of the two hots. When you have loads on both hot conductors connected to the neutral, then the amount of current that flows in the neutral is just the difference between the current in the two hots.

If the neutral is loose or open, then, depending on the resistance of each load, a different amount of voltage can appear across the circuits other than the normal 120. So, you might have 90 volts at your washer, and 150 volts at the lights! This can be very damaging.

Most loose neutral connections that I have seen are at the service panel. It isn't impossible for it to occur in a junction box, but it would be a rather odd choice for an electrician to put those particular things on a multiwire circuit. I would start at the service neutral.
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Old 10-03-2008, 12:38 AM   #7
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All new wiring and service.
Pretty coincidental I would say. Neutral lug not torqued either in the load center or meter can ....so I'm with inphase277 on this one.
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Old 10-03-2008, 04:01 PM   #8
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what Exactly is happening with a loose neutral? Is it most likely in the panal or in any receptical or junction box?
It can be anywhere from the utility side to the branch circuit in your house.

Look in your panel. If you see any red wires, you have multi wire branch circuits. In one cable you have two hot wires (power out) "sharing" one neutral wire (power back).

The two hot wires are on different 120 volt legs. If the neutral gets interrupted between the source and where it splits to the two different circuits, you can end up with up to 240 volts on your 120 volt circuit.

If there are no multi wire branch circuits in your house (no red wires in the panel), the problem is at your service or the on the power companys end.

Lights getting bright = bad. It will get worse until something blows up (flatscreen TV, appliances or computers come to mind)

Last edited by 220/221; 10-03-2008 at 04:04 PM.
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Old 10-04-2008, 10:47 AM   #9
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This problem as described is not on a single branch circuit. It is the entire panel.

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