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Old 03-24-2011, 07:29 AM   #16
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


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I am just a little confused. It would seem to me that I have different voltage coming into the house from the power company as one side of the box is higher than the other. But the sub panned feeds off of only one side. So why would I have different voltage in the sub panel?
Without too long of explanation, power to your house comes from a transformer that is "center tapped". This center tap splits the 240 Volt output. You end up with 240 Volts and 120 volts. Your panel has to bus bars that the circuit breakers snap onto. Each bus will provide 120 volts when measured to the neutral bar. Most panel have breaker in two vertical columns. Breakers that are vertically adjacent to each other connect to opposite bus bars so you get 240 volts when you connect a cable to two vertically adjacent breakers and that is how your sub panel is fed.
The 120 volts should be equal on each bus bar and if it isn't that means there is something wrong with that center tap connection - somewhere.
Hope this helps...

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Old 03-24-2011, 07:34 AM   #17
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


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Disconnect all electronic equipment (TV sets, microwave ovens, computers, etc) from every circuit where the voltage is seen to or you think will seesaw above 127 volts. Find and fix the problem (it's in the neutral somewhere) boefore plugging those items back in.

One thing you can do yourself is to tighten up all the small screws and set scrws in the panel. Suggest undoing each a quarter turn before tightening, which cleans off and improves the connection somewhat.

If the red/white and black/white voltages seesaw before entering your house then the problem is in the power company lines or equipment.

If your experienced person can measure at the fat wire ends themselves as opposed to the lugs they are attached to, you can get a slightly surer measurement that you should call the power company. But you can never be 100.0 percent sure whether to call the power company first or call an electrician to go over your panel first.
When you say it's a neutral somewhere... do you mean a neutral in the box, or somewhere out in the walls? If it's in the walls, how would I check for that? Maybe shutting off all the breakers, testing the incoming power . If it is still off, then it would be the power company. If it is not off, I could then turn on one breaker at a time to try to find the problem. But I am not sure if that would work, because the neutral is always connected. Any suggestions?
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Old 03-24-2011, 07:39 AM   #18
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


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Without too long of explanation, power to your house comes from a transformer that is "center tapped". This center tap splits the 240 Volt output. You end up with 240 Volts and 120 volts. Your panel has to bus bars that the circuit breakers snap onto. Each bus will provide 120 volts when measured to the neutral bar. Most panel have breaker in two vertical columns. Breakers that are vertically adjacent to each other connect to opposite bus bars so you get 240 volts when you connect a cable to two vertically adjacent breakers and that is how your sub panel is fed.
The 120 volts should be equal on each bus bar and if it isn't that means there is something wrong with that center tap connection - somewhere.
Hope this helps...
OK, so every other breaker going down switches back and forth from the right feed to the left feed. (Not as I assumed that the right side was all fed from the right incoming and the left side was all fed from the left incoming wire. When you say somewhere....Do you mean somewhere out side on the pole, or somewhere in side the house.. .Or both?

Thanks for all you help.
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Old 03-24-2011, 08:10 AM   #19
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


You said you measured voltage at the main connections in your main panel and found them out of balance. That points to a faulty connection somewhere between the main panel and the transformer which includes the meter base. How is power fed to your house - overhead or underground?
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Old 03-24-2011, 08:50 AM   #20
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


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When you say it's a neutral somewhere... do you mean a neutral in the box, or somewhere out in the walls? If it's in the walls, how would I check for that? ?
If you noticed the imbalance or seesawing up in the house say at a receptacle, the problem could be anywhere from there working back to the panel or on to the utility pole outside. For your next test you would choose a convenient location in between such as another receptacle that is on the same circuit and on the way back to the the panel, or maybe choose the panel next (as opposed to chopping open a wall). If the problem is still observed, then you conclude that the problem is not between the last two places you performed tests at.

Finding a problem in the wires inside the wall is rare while finding a problem at the last good receptacle in a daisy chain with dead or problemmatical receptacles beyond is not that uncommon.

It is not always easy to figure out the path of the circuit for example the line from the panel may go first to a light switch in this room, then daisy chain from there to a receptacle in the next room (on the other side of the wall), then to the first receptacle in this room, then around the corner to the next receptacle in this room, etc..
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Last edited by AllanJ; 03-24-2011 at 08:56 AM.
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:07 AM   #21
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


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You said you measured voltage at the main connections in your main panel and found them out of balance. That points to a faulty connection somewhere between the main panel and the transformer which includes the meter base. How is power fed to your house - overhead or underground?
Overhead. I went out and visually inspected the lines. I am the only house on my side of the street. They have a complicated setup. There is a pole on my side of the house with power wires (As well as phone and cable) attached to it, but is seems that the feed from my house bypasses the power lines and goes directly across the street. Maybe because the power lines that extend to my pole were for future expansion and have not passed through a transformer. So there is a long path to have a problem. I will call the power company. The only issues are I forgot to unlock my gate so they won't have access to the meter and it is raining today. So I may wait until tomorrow
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Old 03-24-2011, 09:11 AM   #22
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


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If you noticed the imbalance or seesawing up in the house say at a receptacle, the problem could be anywhere from there working back to the panel or on to the utility pole outside. For your next test you would choose a convenient location in between such as another receptacle that is on the same circuit and on the way back to the the panel, or maybe choose the panel next (as opposed to chopping open a wall). If the problem is still observed, then you conclude that the problem is not between the last two places you performed tests at.

Finding a problem in the wires inside the wall is rare while finding a problem at the last good receptacle in a daisy chain with dead or problemmatical receptacles beyond is not that uncommon.

It is not always easy to figure out the path of the circuit for example the line from the panel may go first to a light switch in this room, then daisy chain from there to a receptacle in the next room (on the other side of the wall), then to the first receptacle in this room, then around the corner to the next receptacle in this room, etc..
Well I am thinking that the problem is from the power company right now, but if I find out it is not, what kind of a wiring issue am I looking for? Loose connection? Crossed wires? Bad outlet or switch?
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Old 03-24-2011, 10:44 AM   #23
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


More than likely a loose connection.
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:06 AM   #24
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


I called the power company at 11:15. They said they would be out before 1:30 so I went home and unlocked the gate. I hope my problem is solved when I get home. I will keep you posted.

Thanks for all the help.

John
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Old 03-24-2011, 11:56 AM   #25
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


An example of a problem in the domain of the power company might be a loose neutral connection in the meter box.

You or your electrician may not open that box or alter anything further upstream (towards the utility pole transformer).
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Old 03-24-2011, 02:20 PM   #26
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


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An example of a problem in the domain of the power company might be a loose neutral connection in the meter box.

You or your electrician may not open that box or alter anything further upstream (towards the utility pole transformer).
That is not true. On overhead services the customer is usually responsible for everything past the service drop, including up to the meter and beyond.
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Old 03-24-2011, 02:32 PM   #27
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


I have not heard from them, so I assume (Yes, I know) whatever it was, they fixed it. If not, I figure they would call me and tell me to get an electrician.
Will be home in an hour so hopefully my woes are over not just beginning.

So far it has only cost me some TV time and I treated myself to a new digital meter.
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Old 03-24-2011, 03:59 PM   #28
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


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I treated myself to a new digital meter.
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Old 03-24-2011, 04:24 PM   #29
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


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I have not heard from them, so I assume (Yes, I know) whatever it was, they fixed it. If not, I figure they would call me and tell me to get an electrician.
Will be home in an hour so hopefully my woes are over not just beginning.

So far it has only cost me some TV time and I treated myself to a new digital meter.
New tools are always a plus in a crisis situation!


I can't do the honey do list, I need a new tool for that job!
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Old 03-24-2011, 04:42 PM   #30
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Lights dim when Microwave runs.


So I get hoe and see evidence of the power company being here. (Flashing clocks, meter tag cut off and on ground. So I run the microwave and I still have the problem. So I call the Power Company, and all they can tell me is that the case has been closed........ So they are going to send someone else out,,,,, ??

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