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Old 12-27-2008, 11:24 AM   #16
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Neutral problem, not sure what to do now


Wow, we sure get alot of fluff around something that is as cut and dried as this. The power company came and determined that the problem is not on their side. Sure, the guy mis-spoke when he said it wasn't dangerous, because it certainly is.

The REAL bottom line: Call an electrician. The neutral is loose at your panel. He will torque it down and be done. If the service conductors are aluminum, ask him to make sure there is an antioxidant paste, such as Noalox, on the wires.

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Old 12-27-2008, 11:40 AM   #17
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Based on my fear from what I'd read here last night, I called my electrician as soon as I thought reasonable this morning to see if I could get him here quicker. Unfortunately he was gone for the day. I left a message conveying urgency but I doubt I'll get him here before Monday.

In the meantime we've unplugged everything non-essential, and we're keeping electrical use to the bare minimum. The only big draw items are the boiler and refrigerator.

Using my cheap digital multimeter, I've measured the differential at two outlets which come from different sides of the panel. The outlets are both near the end of runs, at the far side of the house from the main box.

When nothing is running the difference is about 2 volts. One side is around 119v, the other 121v. I've measured numerous times over several hours and it varies somewhat, from a low of 1v to a high of 4v. That's with nothing significant running.

When there's a draw on one line, the difference increases -- the greater the draw, the bigger the difference. A 60w bulb increases it by 1 volt or so. A blow dryer increases it a lot. I'm not sure how much, because when I saw the meter hit 130v on one side I shut off the dryer. I was afraid that too much of a difference would cause a fire.

When there's a draw on the other line, the difference DEcreases. A 60w bulb brings them both to around 120v. I didn't try the blow dryer on that side because of the previous effect.
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Old 12-27-2008, 11:57 AM   #18
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...
The REAL bottom line: Call an electrician. The neutral is loose at your panel. He will torque it down and be done. If the service conductors are aluminum, ask him to make sure there is an antioxidant paste, such as Noalox, on the wires.
Okay, I'm heading to the phone book now.

The lines TO the house are aluminum, but the house wiring is copper.
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Old 12-27-2008, 12:50 PM   #19
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Neutral problem, not sure what to do now


An electrician will be here within the hour.

$200 minimum. Ouch.
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Old 12-27-2008, 12:54 PM   #20
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An electrician will be here within the hour.

$200 minimum. Ouch.
Watch from a safe distance and let us know what he finds.
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Old 12-27-2008, 12:55 PM   #21
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An electrician will be here within the hour.

$200 minimum. Ouch.
It's all relative. That ouch isn't as bad as it could be...
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Old 12-27-2008, 01:19 PM   #22
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Neutral problem, not sure what to do now


Five minutes after I arranged for the emergency electrician, right as I finished my previous post here, the guy who did the original work called. He had been on an outside job that they had to stop because of the rain. With a little urging by me he agreed to come this afternoon. I think because he did the previous work that he'll be much cheaper.

I immediately tried calling the emergency guy but went into his voicemail. I left a message and also called his answering service to page him. Hopefully I can cancel before he heads out.

At the moment I've got TWO electricians on the way.
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Old 12-27-2008, 01:26 PM   #23
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Five minutes after I arranged for the emergency electrician, right as I finished my previous post here, the guy who did the original work called. He had been on an outside job that they had to stop because of the rain. With a little urging by me he agreed to come this afternoon. I think because he did the previous work that he'll be much cheaper.

I immediately tried calling the emergency guy but went into his voicemail. I left a message and also called his answering service to page him. Hopefully I can cancel before he heads out.

At the moment I've got TWO electricians on the way.
Well it wouldn't hurt anything to have someone different look over the first guys work.

Was there a permit / inspection when he upgraded the service?

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Old 12-27-2008, 01:30 PM   #24
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At the moment I've got TWO electricians on the way.
Wait... so, your original electrician didn't think your emergency service call was more important than some other job? That doesn't seem right. For emergencies, I drop anything else that isn't also an emergency.

I sure hope the other guy gets the message. I have had the same thing happen, and boy does that steam the veggies. I thought I broke my hand once from punching the steering wheel. I left another job to catch this guy's call, 45 miles away. When I found his neighborhood, I called him to find his house and he says "Oh, I'm sorry. The other guys showed up 10 minutes ago. But if they can't fix it, I'll give you a call." I said "no, if they can't fix it, don't call me, you're outta luck."

Boy I was hot!. Anyway, I hope everything works out. Let us know.
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Old 12-27-2008, 02:04 PM   #25
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Neutral problem, not sure what to do now


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Wait... so, your original electrician didn't think your emergency service call was more important than some other job? That doesn't seem right. For emergencies, I drop anything else that isn't also an emergency.

I sure hope the other guy gets the message. I have had the same thing happen, and boy does that steam the veggies. I thought I broke my hand once from punching the steering wheel. I left another job to catch this guy's call, 45 miles away. When I found his neighborhood, I called him to find his house and he says "Oh, I'm sorry. The other guys showed up 10 minutes ago. But if they can't fix it, I'll give you a call." I said "no, if they can't fix it, don't call me, you're outta luck."

Boy I was hot!. Anyway, I hope everything works out. Let us know.
you did bill him didn't you? You surely had a right to and should have.


btw guys; 8 volts too much? POCO is allowed +- 10%. that's from 108 to 132 volts. I don't like the voltages but that is the specs.
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Old 12-27-2008, 03:46 PM   #26
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you did bill him didn't you? You surely had a right to and should have.


btw guys; 8 volts too much? POCO is allowed +- 10%. that's from 108 to 132 volts. I don't like the voltages but that is the specs.
That's the problem.
In MD it's 114v to 126v, which I assume means 228v to 252v. Does this mean one side could be at 114 and the other at 240-114, or 252-114?
Is this measured at the panel or at the outlets?

BTW, the PoCo receptionist who told me these numbers also told me that PoCo is under no obligations regarding the quality of the power that is shipped to its customers.

I'd say 8v is too much for the drop at the end of 50' of #14 AWG with a 10A load. This cable should have an impedance of 1/4 Ω.
At the panel, one source implies that a 10A load across the 240v should drop it 10 mV. I'd think the maximum neutral resistance should also be 0.01v/10A = 1 mΩ, or less.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 12-27-2008 at 04:25 PM.
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Old 12-27-2008, 04:28 PM   #27
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Neutral problem, not sure what to do now


The guy just left. (This is the original guy who replaced the box a month ago. Fortunately I was able to cancel the emergency guy before he finished his previous job.)

He pulled the meter and checked all the connections; everything was good. Then he had me create the problem while he metered -- with a blowdryer on, he said one side was 106v and the other 132v. So at least I could prove the problem to him.

Having eliminated all the connections, and assuming the power co. was correct, he concluded that it must be the line connecting the back of the meter to the circuit box. He replaced that line and the problem disappeared. There was no visible damage to the old cable, but it was bent behind the box and I suspect that the box pushing tightly against it broke some strands.

No more lights dimming or brightening, and when I measure at the outlets in the bathroom there's maybe a half-volt difference with the blowdryer on. (And I'm not sure if that's from the dryer or just the normal fluctuations I see with my cheap meter.) That's down from over 20v.

So all is good. I thank everyone very much for your advice. I appreciate all the help and I'm thrilled to have this resolved.

Thanks greatly!
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Old 12-27-2008, 04:41 PM   #28
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Neutral problem, not sure what to do now


For a 1.5Ω neutral connection, I get 105.9v and 131.6v measured at the outlets, with 94w heating the neutral connection. Did he say it was warm?
Close enough for guv'mint wuk!
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Old 12-27-2008, 04:50 PM   #29
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...Did he say it was warm?...
No mention of it, and I never asked.

BTW, I reconnected my new HDTV and so far it looks great, just like before. I'm hoping that since it seems fine now it didn't suffer any damage.
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Old 12-27-2008, 06:14 PM   #30
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great to hear of the fix Jim.



Quote:
In MD it's 114v to 126v, which I assume means 228v to 252v. Does this mean one side could be at 114 and the other at 240-114, or 252-114?
Is this measured at the panel or at the outlets?
poco power is at the pole or last poco connection (they generally accept panel readings). the +- 10% is a national requirement. You may have more strict controls locally though. So based upon that, you can have as much as 264 volts leg to leg and the other numbers I mentioned from each leg to neut.

Quote:
BTW, the PoCo receptionist who told me these numbers also told me that PoCo is under no obligations regarding the quality of the power that is shipped to its customers.
quality of power has nothing to do with voltage. They are responsible for voltage control.

basically, the POCO is allowed +-10%. that is federal regulations. Code has recommendations for voltage drop but that is all they are, recommendations. There is no requirement per code to maintain voltage.

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