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-   -   lights surge when appliances start. (http://www.diychatroom.com/f18/lights-surge-when-appliances-start-112947/)

fromscratch 08-04-2011 03:36 PM

lights surge when appliances start.
 
We have a small house and starting to notice all the quirks.

The latest is the lights in all the house surge brighter when any appliance kicks in (fridge, dishwasher, washer, vacuum, etc.)

Last night I noticed that the lighted switch on the surge protector glowed bright when the compressor in the fridge started.

Is this an issue, or indicative of something possibly wrong?

The electrical system in the house was updated at some point and the home inspector mentioned that the breakers are in excess. 900sqr ft. house plus garage has 3 panels with over 20 breakers. (all the breakers but one are 20Amp). There is one old knob and tube line still hooked up but the rest is all romex cable.

The light surge is definitely noticeable and seeing the surge protecter glow bright made me wonder if the surges might actually damage something.

What do you say?

thanks.

McSteve 08-04-2011 04:02 PM

If your lights are getting brighter when appliances are turned on, you have a loose netural somewhere. First thing to do would be to call the power company and have them come and check their connections. Keep any valuable electronics and appliances unplugged until you get this figured out. Under the right circumstances a loose neutral can cause voltages to swing pretty wildly, and it can cause damage to appliances.

CheapCharlie 08-04-2011 04:02 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by fromscratch (Post 700348)
We just bought a small house and starting to notice all the quirks.

The latest is the lights in all the house surge brighter when any appliance kicks in (fridge, dishwasher, washer, vacuum, etc.)

Last night I noticed that the lighted switch on the surge protector glowed bright when the compressor in the fridge started.

Is this an issue, or indicative of something possibly wrong?

The electrical system in the house was updated at some point and the home inspector mentioned that the breakers are in excess. 900sqr ft. house plus garage has 3 breaker boxes with over 20 breakers. (all the breakers but one are 20Amp). There is one old knob and tube line still hooked up but the rest is all romex cable.

The light surge is definitely noticeable and seeing the surge protecter glow bright made me wonder if the surges might actually damage something.

What do you say?

thanks.

A light "surge" is a problem. Most will notice a voltage drop when a large appliance kicks in on startup. This will make the lights dim shortly. A surge has me thinking that you may have a neutral problem in one or more circuits.

fromscratch 08-04-2011 04:17 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by CheapCharlie (Post 700368)
A light "surge" is a problem. Most will notice a voltage drop when a large appliance kicks in on startup. This will make the lights dim shortly. A surge has me thinking that you may have a neutral problem in one or more circuits.

Can you give me an example of a "neutral problem"? So I know what I'm looking for.

Extra information:

There is a breaker box in the back of the house that is connected to the front box with #6 Cu run through a 60A breaker. The fridge is run through this back breaker. The surge protector I saw glow was plugged into an outlet that is wired to the breaker on the front of the house. That outlet is on the knob and tube line.

fromscratch 08-04-2011 04:22 PM

-Mcsteve
Sorry didn't see your post.
So is this most likely an issue with the connection at the box? Is there any way that wiring within the house would cause this?

Could I flip each breaker individually to see if it remedies the "light surge" and thus identify the problem line?

thanks

McSteve 08-04-2011 04:22 PM

If it is a problem with the power company's connections, it's not really something you can look for. It'll be at the pole, at the splices where the power company wires attach to your house, or inside the meter. If they come out and tell you it's not their issue, then we can go from there. A fair majority of the time though, it does end up being the power company's problem.

If you call them and tell them some of your lights are getting brighter when appliances come on, and that you think you have a loose service neutral, they will typically send an emergency crew out ASAP to check it out for you.

fromscratch 08-04-2011 04:26 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by McSteve (Post 700367)
...you have a loose netural somewhere.

I did notice that there is an outlet in the house that doesn't work. If by chance the neutral wire was loose on this outlet could that cause the "light surge?"

McSteve 08-04-2011 04:30 PM

A loose neutral on one circuit will only affect that circuit. Am I understanding correctly that more than one circuit seems to be affected, and that circuits from more than one panel are involved? Is one of the two panels you mentioned the main panel?

fromscratch 08-04-2011 04:38 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by McSteve (Post 700386)
A loose neutral on one circuit will only affect that circuit. Am I understanding correctly that more than one circuit seems to be affected, and that circuits from more than one panel are involved? Is one of the two panels you mentioned the main panel?

Yes to both questions. (I was calling a circuit a "line"). The mains from the street run into the panel I mentioned at the front of the house. The lines "look" secure there. However, I'll call the power company this afternoon and ask them to look into it.

Thanks again.

dmxtothemax 08-04-2011 05:29 PM

Sounds like its affecting the whole house,
So its most likely a problem at the main feed end.
If you can safely get to your main switch,
Put a volt meter on it,
Then get someone to turn on some solid loads.
Observe the response on the meter,
If you think it is significant,
Then talk to poco about it.
Otherwise there could be a problem with your
serrvice lines or main switch/connections.

fromscratch 08-05-2011 01:19 PM

THANKS! You guys were right on about a faulty neutral.

I called the power company. Told them to put a note in the service request to check for a faulty neutral.

I got an automated phone call saying there would be a power outage in my neighborhood. Then I got a second call 15 mins later saying the power was restored.

Then when I got home there was a service receipt on the door that said "Faulty Neutral, Checked power at main, problem repaired."

Lights are steady now. Thanks again.

McSteve 08-05-2011 01:20 PM

Great! Thanks for coming back to let us know how it worked out.


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