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Old 07-30-2011, 01:17 AM   #1
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Help! ...need electrical advice !


I'm a home owner and have a electrical problem. I have a 100 amp service panel. The Service panel ground wire is attatched to a cold water pipe and then lead into the ground (earth). The previous owner used a copper wire to tie the ground wire to the pipe. did not use clamps. I would notice sparks at the connection point of the ground wire and pipe. When the sparks happen, lights would flicker in all rooms of the house, seems to affect all breakers. Also the sparks only happen when I turn on a large appliance such as an Air conditioner or if the house suddenly increased energy use. I even install a new electrical outlet and dedicate its own breaker for the air conditioner and the same thing happen. I live in the city, and its a city pipe. My question is do you think its a short circuite somewhere? Or maybe its the city pipe having a positive charge? A loose connection in the fuse box? Should I disconnect the ground from the cold water pipe, since the ground wire already lead to the ground (earth)? I appreciate any help.... thanks...you guys are great !!!!

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Old 07-30-2011, 04:46 AM   #2
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The water pipes and grounding electrode have nothing to do with the NORMAL day to day workings of the electrical system.
You have a serious problem somewhere with your service neutral and the pipes are becoming the path back to the source (utility meter).

PLEASE call someone in immediately!

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Old 07-30-2011, 07:34 AM   #3
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Agreed. You or neighbor(s) have a loose neutral connection at your (their) service equipment.
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Old 07-30-2011, 08:05 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by SD515
Agreed. You or neighbor(s) have a loose neutral connection at your (their) service equipment.
Do not touch the wire to the water pipe!! Call a licensed electical contractor immediately!!
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Old 07-30-2011, 08:12 AM   #5
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something is missing within your panel either the neutral from the pole or this guy used the BX on the loads as the neutral...considered a "mechanical ground" as compared to a WHITE wire "electrical ground" do you see any white wire in the any sockets.any chance you could remove the circuit breaker panel and tell us if you see stacked up white wires onto a raw metal block screwed to the back of the panel itself...
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Old 07-30-2011, 03:35 PM   #6
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IT might sound like a loose or resisted neutral wire somewere in the system. I called the electric company and set up an appointment with an electrician. Does anyone know how hard is it to locate a loose neutral wire? I did open my service panel but did not notice anything unconnected. thanks everyone.......
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Old 07-30-2011, 04:29 PM   #7
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if you have a meter do a walk around to all your unused sockets and test directly into the plug outlets don't bother with the ground opening...do yu have anything acting weird that is plugged in...when you pull the panel you saw all the pulls back to the raw screw down bar on the right side(on most)if you looked at the pole coming in two blacks to feed the CB bars and a white or taped white to that bar...look outside you should have 3 taped up clam shells from the pole to yours down your pipe into the meter 115V/115V/Neutral..did you ever notice the TV flicker when a switch was turned on or off
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Old 07-30-2011, 10:24 PM   #8
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Good to hear you’re having an electrician come in and look at it. Finding the loose connection shouldn’t be too hard, though I doubt you’ll find it just by looking, and it may take a little time. You mentioned your lights would flicker when the sparks happened, so I’m thinking it’s in your equipment. Keep in mind it could be in your neighbors though.

You said you live in the city and have city pipes. City water pipes are interconnected underground at the street, and all the houses should have their water pipes electrically bonded to the main service panel, as you mentioned your previous owner ‘attempted’ to do, though not properly.

When you have municipal water pipes that are bonded to the service (as they should be) and you have a loose neutral in your equipment, the electricity will get back to the transformer via the water pipe, and going through your neighbors equipment. A loose connection will cause a higher resistance. Some of the electricity will go through your neutral wire to the transformer, but some of it will also go out the bonding wire to the water pipe. Those are the sparks you are seeing.

Check out this article for more information…

http://ecmweb.com/grounding/electric...ing/index.html
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Last edited by SD515; 07-30-2011 at 10:26 PM. Reason: link
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Old 07-31-2011, 01:23 AM   #9
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Help! ...need electrical advice !


Quote:
Originally Posted by Pauly View Post
IT might sound like a loose or resisted neutral wire somewere in the system. I called the electric company and set up an appointment with an electrician. Does anyone know how hard is it to locate a loose neutral wire? I did open my service panel but did not notice anything unconnected. thanks everyone.......
It might not be in your part of the system,
It could be a poco problem,
It is definately a problem with a neutral somewhere
in the system.
Because this problem needs testing of the incoming mains service
it is potentually very dangerous,
Please call an licenced electricain.
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Old 07-31-2011, 08:14 AM   #10
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Last edited by AllanJ; 07-31-2011 at 08:37 AM.
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Old 07-31-2011, 08:43 AM   #11
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The sparking happening where a "grounding" wire is attached to a water pipe, your statement that all breakers/circuits are affected, plus a little magical brainstorming on my part tells me that there is a problem with the neutral almost certainly outside your house. So you need the help of the power company. You don't have to make an appointment with a private electrician quite yet.

Meanwhile unplug all electronic equipment and keep overall power usage to a minimum until the power company representative makes his judgment.

If the problem is only with a neighbor's house you could possibly see sparking as you did but your own lights would not flicker.
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Stop wasting time re-adjusting the pattern. Have several lawn sprinklers, one for each pattern.

Last edited by AllanJ; 07-31-2011 at 08:47 AM.
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Old 07-31-2011, 09:04 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
The sparking happening where a "grounding" wire is attached to a water pipe, your statement that all breakers/circuits are affected, plus a little magical brainstorming on my part tells me that there is a problem with the neutral almost certainly outside your house. So you need the help of the power company. You don't have to make an appointment with a private electrician quite yet.
Disagree. A loose connection at the OPís wheatherhead, meter socket, or main disco/main feeder panel would cause the lights to flicker/dim when the GEC is removed from the water pipe. The electricity would use the water pipe as its low resistance path, and the lights would be normal brightness. Remove the water pipe connection and the only path is the service entrance neutral. With a high resistance path, the lights would dim/flicker.

Quote:
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Meanwhile unplug all electronic equipment and keep overall power usage to a minimum until the power company representative makes his judgment.
Agreed

Quote:
Originally Posted by AllanJ View Post
If the problem is only with a neighbor's house you could possibly see sparking as you did but your own lights would not flicker.
Agreed
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Old 07-31-2011, 10:23 AM   #13
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While you are standing on a few layers of dry cardboard and with one hand in your pocket, you could carefully use a finger and feel in the panel where the incoming fat wire with the white tape or covering attaches to the terminal strip (bus bar) with the neutral wires. Warnth or burn marks indicates a loose connection which here requires immediate repair.

While you are at it you could tighten up all the screws and set screws holding wires in the panel (except on the big lugs with the fat wries which an experienced person should tighten). Turn each breaker off before tightening its screw holding on a wire. Do not use tremendous strength.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 07-31-2011 at 10:25 AM.
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Old 07-31-2011, 10:56 AM   #14
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Wow we have just gone from DIY to DYI. do yourself in Do not stick your fingers in an energized panel. Call a pro, this is not a do it yourself project!
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Old 07-31-2011, 04:41 PM   #15
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Thanks for all the feed back. The power company came and said the problem is not on their side. I guess I'll wait for the electrician. With minimal power usage, i'll be ok. I'll let you guys know what the electrician discover.

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