Servcie Entrance And House Wire Issues - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum
Advertisement


Go Back   DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum > Home Improvement > Electrical


CLICK HERE AND JOIN OUR COMMUNITY TODAY...IT'S FREE!

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-23-2016, 12:56 AM   #1
Newbie
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 17
Rewards Points: 34
Default

Servcie entrance and house wire issues


Hi everyone,

My ex landlady called me today as she was having electrical issues and asked me to come by and see what I could find. She had low dimming lights, burning light bulbs and other issues. She is 88 years old.

Anyway I looked at what she had and here is what I discovered. This house was built in 1962. There is a breaker panel outside next to the meter base that had 2/0 or 1/0 aluminum wire to the lugs. From there someone put a #6 wire under a 70 amp circuit breaker to the inside house into her closet for all power to this house. This is a 2000 sq/ft house with all the modern conveniences we all enjoy. So this house has been operating on a 70 amp feed for a long time. How I don't know. Should be at least a 200 service. There is a bad connection between the ground on the pipe connecting the panel to the meter base. No other ground attached. There are no grounds between this panel and the house panel.

On the inside what a mess. There are only a couple of grounds but no ground that goes anywhere. There are a few Tandem breakers with what I assume are shared neutrals with 20 amp breakers but 14 ga wire. Neither box appears to be grounded or bonded correctly. This whole house has way too many receptacles and lights for this service. None of the breakers will trip or any of the GFCI outlets will trip. Most of the receptacles show reversed hot and neutrals or open ground. This is throughout most of the house.

Anyway I wanted to get some opinions on how I can help her as she is pretty old and does not have much money and I would hate to see something bad happen to her. If you guys can offer me your opinion I would appreciate it. I know the obvious answer is to call her an electrician bit the prices she was quote for the work is money she does not have. I have attached the pictures here for your review. Any help is appreciated.
Attached Thumbnails
Servcie entrance and house wire issues-img_1640-copy.jpg   Servcie entrance and house wire issues-img_1641-copy.jpg   Servcie entrance and house wire issues-img_1642-copy.jpg   Servcie entrance and house wire issues-img_1643-copy.jpg   Servcie entrance and house wire issues-img_1644-copy.jpg  

Servcie entrance and house wire issues-img_1645-copy.jpg  

Advertisement


Last edited by ssfarm; 02-23-2016 at 01:04 AM.
ssfarm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 07:51 AM   #2
Civil Engineer
 
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: Boston
Posts: 5,257
Rewards Points: 4,094
Default


You don't say where you are located. I don't think there is a state in the U.S. where you are legally allowed to do electrical work for someone else without an electrician's license. So unless you are willing to accept all of the potential legal consequences associated with performing work you are likely not authorized to do, I think your assistance must be limited to assisting her in finding an electrician who is willing to perform the necessary work at a fair price.

Advertisement

Daniel Holzman is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to Daniel Holzman For This Useful Post:
joecaption (02-23-2016)
Old 02-23-2016, 08:09 AM   #3
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,475
Rewards Points: 4,292
Default


I see what look like shared neutrals (MWBCs) on the same leg.
Jump-start is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 08:57 AM   #4
Retired from the grind
 
Join Date: Dec 2006
Posts: 17,158
Rewards Points: 6,652
Default


Majority of homes do not even use more then 50 amps at a time, if you do not have electric heat & oven.

As for the issues, the fluctuating needs to be monitored by the Power Company, if they cannot find a problem from the meter to their transformer.
gregzoll is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to gregzoll For This Useful Post:
Jump-start (02-23-2016), UnPhased347 (02-23-2016)
Old 02-23-2016, 09:20 AM   #5
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 708
Rewards Points: 1,388
Default


Low dimming lights and burning bulbs makes me think loose connection and/or open neutral. The initial priority I would see would be measuring voltages and making sure that the service is good and that the branch with those problems is good. Then checking for MWBCs on the same leg, since someone expressed concern with that possibility. Then hunting down and fixing various problems. I would probably swap out those 20s for 15s, given the wire size.

But this should ideally and legally really be done by a professional and I am concerned that even putting the legal issues aside (you don't want to be responsible for burning down her house), you might well not have the skill set to do it yourself. What's more, is the house only her house or are there also tenants? If she is renting, she should really be fixing the electrical problems or else it is unfair to the tenant. If she is not renting, it's a 2,000 square foot house and maybe she needs to be renting a room or taking out a home equity line of credit to help cover the cost of work like this.
Tom738 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 09:31 AM   #6
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: California
Posts: 762
Rewards Points: 516
Default


Nothing is jumping out at me as being that terrible. Get another quote. Tell the contractor what the budget is and see how far he can go with it. Looks like it's time for a new sub panel, fix the grounding and to fix some receptacles in the house. I'd start with changing the sub based on the pictures. The service neutral is probably loose somewhere which is usually an easy fix.
As far as number 6 copper feeding the sub goes, I don't see it as an issue from the pictures.
Arrow3030 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 12:23 PM   #7
Newbie
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 17
Rewards Points: 34
Default


Thanks guys for the answers. What I probably did not make clear was the newer panel in the pictures is the main panel feeding the house. The number 6 wire you see is feeding a panel in the closet which feeds all the circuits in this house. Other words this house is being run on a number 6 wire under a 70 amp breaker.

This is a fairly nice house in a good neighborhood but boy does it have the devices inside. I honestly don't see how this house runs on a number 6 wire. For what ever reason I am unable to get any breakers to trip. All the GFCI receptacles will not failover. There are a few neutrals that are burned in the panel where they are connected to the neutral bar.

I am trying to find all that I can wrong so I can pass this along to an electrician. If it was ham and egg fix I would do it myself but given what I see I think it would be best for someone licensed. Even if I have to pay for it myself. Anyways thanks guys for those helping identify the issues you see that need fixing.
ssfarm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 12:40 PM   #8
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,475
Rewards Points: 4,292
Default


Quote:
Originally Posted by ssfarm View Post
Thanks guys for the answers. What I probably did not make clear was the newer panel in the pictures is the main panel feeding the house. The number 6 wire you see is feeding a panel in the closet which feeds all the circuits in this house. Other words this house is being run on a number 6 wire under a 70 amp breaker.

This is a fairly nice house in a good neighborhood but boy does it have the devices inside. I honestly don't see how this house runs on a number 6 wire. For what ever reason I am unable to get any breakers to trip. All the GFCI receptacles will not failover. There are a few neutrals that are burned in the panel where they are connected to the neutral bar.

I am trying to find all that I can wrong so I can pass this along to an electrician. If it was ham and egg fix I would do it myself but given what I see I think it would be best for someone licensed. Even if I have to pay for it myself. Anyways thanks guys for those helping identify the issues you see that need fixing.


Thats because every single shared neutral circuit in your home is on the same phase. I am not kidding when I say your home is close to burning down. This problem needs to be corrected ASAP, and the wire needs to be megged if not ripped out and replaced because the insulation could be damaged from over heating. This could be a several thousand dollar job.


As for the #6 wire, thats not a problem. Diversity keeps the load to 60amps and under which the wire is rated for that. On the other hand #14 carrying 30amps on the other hand is not only a code violation but a fire waiting to happen.
Jump-start is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 01:43 PM   #9
Newbie
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 17
Rewards Points: 34
Default


Thank you Jumpstart. I kind of figured this is a very real possibility or reality. I am just afraid it will happen and she will be caught in her bedroom unable to get out.

As an example I took my wire tracer and on just one circuit is two double door refrigerators, rice cooker, coffee pot, dishwasher, a light fixture with 5 100 watt lights and one with two 100 watt lights, a range cover with fan and light plus a host of 12 duplex receptacles. Plus her puzzle light.

There are still a bunch of two prong receptacles in the house. She thought that may be a problem. The receptacles that I have examined so far that show reversed hot/neutral were in fact reversed. Easy fix. And there are the ones that show an open ground and I have not found where they are broken yet. Some have no ground at all attached. But at least I can pass this information along and it will not cost as much.

I am just curious if what she has can be made to work with proper wiring given her age as she has outlived everyone and is an only child. Again I appreciate the help and I know she does.
ssfarm is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 02:04 PM   #10
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2012
Posts: 2,475
Rewards Points: 4,292
Default


Quote:
Originally Posted by ssfarm View Post
Thank you Jumpstart. I kind of figured this is a very real possibility or reality. I am just afraid it will happen and she will be caught in her bedroom unable to get out.

As an example I took my wire tracer and on just one circuit is two double door refrigerators, rice cooker, coffee pot, dishwasher, a light fixture with 5 100 watt lights and one with two 100 watt lights, a range cover with fan and light plus a host of 12 duplex receptacles. Plus her puzzle light.

There are still a bunch of two prong receptacles in the house. She thought that may be a problem. The receptacles that I have examined so far that show reversed hot/neutral were in fact reversed. Easy fix. And there are the ones that show an open ground and I have not found where they are broken yet. Some have no ground at all attached. But at least I can pass this information along and it will not cost as much.

I am just curious if what she has can be made to work with proper wiring given her age as she has outlived everyone and is an only child. Again I appreciate the help and I know she does.

Per code kitchen counter top receptacles can not share a circuit with the lights and dishwasher.

With some work it can be made to work. Depending on how many circuit have been toasted and how things are wired it will vary but first the issue with the MWBC is a must above all else. They rest can technically stay since pulling to much current will just trip a breaker.
Jump-start is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 05:45 PM   #11
Newbie
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 17
Rewards Points: 34
Default


UPDATE: okay I was able to get a good firm to come this afternoon and help straighten some of this out. They did pull new #4 wire into the first panel and ground everything proper. They also put in a new 100 amp breaker. Also all the wire issues were corrected in the second panel. Seems 4 of the existing neutrals were burnt at the connection to the neutral bar. You could just pull them away with your finger. Many wires both hot and neutral were very loose or just sticking in the attached holes.

They were able to leave the existing box as according to them breaker panels are no longer acceptable in the closet anymore. They did a nice clean job though. I will change out the receptacles and reverse the remaining receptacles reporting such a condition. The contractor would have to put a new receptacle if they opened it and had to do wire work. They said that is their company policy and was an expense she did not need.

Also there were a few lights discovered as the picture attached. Seems her house could have burned down at any time. Also in the receptacles I opened many were wired in a series connection with no grounds. There were no pigtail connections at all. Anyway I thought I would update anyone interested.
Attached Thumbnails
Servcie entrance and house wire issues-img_1653.jpg  
ssfarm is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to ssfarm For This Useful Post:
Arrow3030 (02-23-2016), Tom738 (02-24-2016)
Old 02-23-2016, 07:52 PM   #12
Member
 
Join Date: Jun 2010
Location: Seattle, WA
Posts: 708
Rewards Points: 1,388
Default


Quote:
Originally Posted by ssfarm View Post
UPDATE: ... Also in the receptacles I opened many were wired in a series connection with no grounds. There were no pigtail connections at all.
Takes me back to the grandparents' Christmas lights, where you had to try each bulb looking for the one to replace... and hope two hadn't gone out at the same time.
Tom738 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 09:54 PM   #13
Member
 
Join Date: Apr 2015
Location: California
Posts: 762
Rewards Points: 516
Default


Glad it all worked out and sorry I missed the mark on this one
Arrow3030 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-23-2016, 11:37 PM   #14
Newbie
 
Join Date: Feb 2016
Posts: 17
Rewards Points: 34
Default


Hi Arrow,

It was a little scarey for a while. I too am glad this worked out for her. I would have felt bad had something happened to her. It just amazes me how this went on for so long and nothing happened. Lights are bright again and everything looks cleaned up as it should. I certainly appreciate the input from everyone and the suggestions for a solution.

Advertisement

ssfarm is offline   Reply With Quote
The Following User Says Thank You to ssfarm For This Useful Post:
Tom738 (02-24-2016)
Reply


Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Ground wire from panel to ground rod swbrains Electrical 46 09-03-2014 05:05 AM
Point of Entrance of main water to the house tk3000 Plumbing 4 06-09-2014 10:30 AM
rewire and new service entrance wire dghowery Electrical 4 10-13-2010 08:31 AM
Size and type of entrance wire for 200A? Beemer533 Electrical 7 03-15-2010 10:54 PM
Melted Service Entrance Wire in Panel theatretch85 Electrical 13 08-22-2008 10:37 AM




Top of Page | View New Posts

 

Search Engine Friendly URLs by vBSEO 3.6.1