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Old 03-28-2013, 11:02 AM   #1
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Flickering Lights / Fluctuating Power from Outlets


I live in an 8-unit condo complex. For the past week all eight units and common area lights have been having an issue with lights flickering. This happens throughout the whole day, but is more noticeable in the morning and evenings when most people are home and the power consumption goes up.

I work from home and throughout the day the battery backup / surge protector for my computer will switch back and forth periodically to battery power.

I had a Department of Water and Power technician out. He took some voltage line readings at our main electrical cabinet and at first he didn't find anything, but then after a period of time he did see the fluctuation.
He said it looked like an open neautral and basically packed it in at that point saying that the power company (this is Los Angeles DWP) doesn't have the resources to troubleshoot the problem. It seems they only handle "power outage" issues.

The questions I have are:
Seeing as though the issue is being seen in all 8 units would the "open neautral" most likely be found at the point of electrical entry?
Could a problem in a specific unit affect all of them?
Wouldn't this be the responsibility of the power company, if it is at the point of entry?

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Old 03-28-2013, 11:21 AM   #2
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You need to escalate this to someone,other wise you will be having to replace electronics.
Are you renting, own, have a management company?

This could be serious!

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Old 03-28-2013, 11:47 AM   #3
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Thanks for responding. Everyone here is an owner. We are self-managed and I'm one of the board members. So as they say, "The buck stops here."

I've been reading some other posts on open neautrals and understand that it could begin to damage electronics.

So do you recommend a call to an electrician or do you think it is the power company's responsibility in this case.
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Old 03-28-2013, 12:35 PM   #4
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Regardless of what you do, this needs to e repaired. If it is an open neutral, you could end up having to replace a bunch of electronics. I would call an electrician. However, if it is on the power company's side, it is their responsibility to fix it. (At least in my area)
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:21 PM   #5
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Around here that wouldn't happen. They would identify the problem; if it turns out to be their fault and they blew it off...

I would immediately escalate the problem demanding someone find the problem. If you get nowhere, get an electrician in. And do this all quickly; an open neutral (if in fact that is what it is; sounds more like a bad connection of one of the hots to me...) has the potential to send high voltage where you don't want it.
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Old 03-28-2013, 01:29 PM   #6
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It's almost definitely a main feeder problem since it is affecting the entire complex but, in my area, after it passes through the meter, it becomes my problem. The power company stops at the meter.

Call an electrical service contractor ASAP. Fight with the power company later if it turns out to be theirs. You all stand to lose a lot of electrical equipment at any time.
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Old 03-28-2013, 03:45 PM   #7
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Flickering Lights / Fluctuating Power from Outlets


get on this right away. that tech is feeding you BS. call again and again. I worked part time for a small (by todays standards) east coast electric utility. I took trouble calls in a call center. Open neutrals are right behind wires down, poles down and fires. Until this is resolved, advise everybody involved to shut down electronics and minimize other use of electricity. I am confused as you said the tech said the power co did not have the resources. who owns the wires on the street and to your condo? it is there responsibility to check to the meter. after the meter it is yours.

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Old 03-28-2013, 05:23 PM   #8
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Quote:
who owns the wires on the street
Los Angeles Dept. of Water and Power (or LADWP).

It is the largest Muni in the country. So, I would write off that no resources comment. (Must have been beer time or something for that trouble man.)
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Old 03-28-2013, 06:43 PM   #9
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Flickering Lights / Fluctuating Power from Outlets



Thank you for all of your reponses!

I called LADWP again about the issue. They came out with a cherry picker this time so they could get up to the transformer.

They found an almost gnawed through power line courtesy of the local squirrel population.

They fixed it and I haven't noticed any issue since...only been a few hours so am hoping that it has been solved. The real test will be this evening when the rest of the homeowners get home.

Thanks again for letting me know the seriousness of the issue. I was somewhat reluctant to call again unless the problem worsened.
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Old 03-28-2013, 07:01 PM   #10
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I think you are correct, Oso954, when you say it must have been beer time when the original tech came out. It was...it was around 7:30pm when he was out.

Earlier in the day (noon) another crew had been here also to check it out. They left shortly after arriving saying that they needed to get some equipment (presumably a truck with a cherry picker). They never returned though.

The crew that fixed it today were the same ones that had ditched out last week. The guy remembered being here and said that when they were going to pick up the equipment they were called to another more serious problem.
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Old 03-28-2013, 07:17 PM   #11
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Tree rats strike again!!!!!!!

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