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Old 03-17-2005, 08:32 PM   #16
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


Tom, Good stuff here too http://www.contractortalk.com/showthread.php?t=2723

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Old 03-17-2005, 10:27 PM   #17
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


I am NOT an electrician and I do not know jack about electricity, service delivery, wiring, or anyhting else... but this is a fun puzzle.

Here is my theory.

You have 2 - 110v lines coming in to your home.
One of them is bad in some form or fashion.

Both are needed to power up the 220v stove.

One powers 70 percent of your home, the other powers 30 percent.

I'll bet that when you turn on the stove when the 70 percent one is dead that it creates some sort of backflow from the GOOD 30 percent one thereby energizing the rest of your curcuit breakers.

Now to test my theory you could try to determine if your stove is only working half as well as it usually does.... IE is it beiong powered by 110 instead of 220 on those days the power goes out.

We had a similar event 30 years or more ago, I remember when I was a kid, PG&E had managed to disconnect one of the 110s on the pole. The oven worked... a little bit, kinda like a brown out.

Once they flicked up the (whatchamacallit bar) everything was back to normal.

Well anyway, that is my totally uninformed theory. I'd suggest calling a real electrician but uhm I guess you already did!

What about your local building inspector.. maybe they have seen such strangeness before?

What Tetor said about the aluminum wiring makes a lot of sense too. In my fathers house we had some very odd things happening with intermittent plugs and such. We were lucky and a damned good industrial electrical contractor (owner) lived across the street. He came over and tightened a few sockets here and there and wala! No more problems.

His take was that this was an aluminum wiring problem.

Again, this is totally UNquallified conjecture on my part.
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Old 04-05-2005, 01:49 PM   #18
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


I wonder if the house survived or did it go up in smoke?
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Old 05-03-2005, 11:02 AM   #19
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


Those electricians should have listened to you more closely. The problem is mostly bad grounding -- a dangerous situation for fire and shock. The stove seems to have played a critical role, by providing a ground for the other circuits.
Right from the start, "doubling up on the good breakers" was insanely illegal, dangerous, and against the NEC (National Electrical Code) in the USA.
A city inspector should come in and examine the wiring -- but he would likely demand extensive changes. Certainly the panel should be brought up to code, which means less than 15Amps load on any lighting circuit.
If the wiring is aluminum (grey wires rather than yellowish copper) then every connection in the panel and every receptacle in the house has to be treated with an antioxidant paste (local hardware store) and retightened. Receptacles have to be verified to be aluminum rated, and others discarded. Aluminum wires do very very strange things -- sometimes freaking out after a thunderstorm.
If the wiring is not aluminum, you still have to restore proper breakers to original condition. (Any electrician installing used breakers should be decertified.) All the screw connections in the panel need to be retightened. The problem is not likely to be in the meter area, as the stove made the power go on and off. City utility workers are usually very well trained, or they wind up dead. The stove itself is likely wired correctly but should be checked.
If you can find a competent electrician to do the work, he might have to charge to replace the panel ($200 cost to him) and a few dozen breakers ($15 each), plus less than 8 hours labor. But pay nothing until the system works perfectly. $8300 for a rewiring job is outrageous.
Local schools offer courses in home wiring. Take one. And report the three electricians to the local licensing board.
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Old 06-19-2005, 10:20 PM   #20
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


Almost sounds like you have a problem with one of your phases coming into your panel. I would ask the power company to make sure your connections at the pole and weather head are good. Most power companies will do this for free.



On a standard home with a 220 panel you have an A phase and a B phase. On a normal breaker panel the slots go A, B, A, B, A, B ect so that if you have 2 breakers one on top of each other you would have 2 independent 120v circuits but if you put in a double pole breaker you would connect to both Phase A and Phase B getting your 240v for stoves dryers ect..





Now to answer your stove question….it does make since….when you turn on your stove, the extra Amperage Draw could actually make the “Loose” connections move slightly where just turning on a light wouldn’t during this draw it could be enough movement for the electrons to jump through the loose connections.





Where you have has things replaced in your panel I would look into your feed from the Power Company. Wish I had read this posting earlier It could have saved you sdome headaches. I have seen this issue before.



Another issue is this problem could be dangerous. If you have a connection that loose it could be heating up through the movement of electricity that could cause a fire.



Good Luck !
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Old 06-19-2005, 10:21 PM   #21
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


It Almost sounds like you have a problem with one of your phases coming into your panel. I would ask the power company to make sure your connections at the pole and weather head are good. Most power companies will do this for free.



On a standard home with a 220 panel you have an A phase and a B phase. On a normal breaker panel the slots go A, B, A, B, A, B ect so that if you have 2 breakers one on top of each other you would have 2 independent 120v circuits but if you put in a double pole breaker you would connect to both Phase A and Phase B getting your 240v for stoves dryers ect..





Now to answer your stove question….it does make since….when you turn on your stove, the extra Amperage Draw could actually make the “Loose” connections move slightly where just turning on a light wouldn’t during this draw it could be enough movement for the electrons to jump through the loose connections.





Where you have has things replaced in your panel I would look into your feed from the Power Company. Wish I had read this posting earlier It could have saved you sdome headaches. I have seen this issue before.



Another issue is this problem could be dangerous. If you have a connection that loose it could be heating up through the movement of electricity that could cause a fire.



Good Luck !
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Old 07-02-2005, 09:27 AM   #22
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


I would have an electrician check the ground connections in your breaker box. It sounds like a problem I ran into a few years ago where an old two wire system eas upgraded and a ground wire was added. The splice in the Junction box for the ground to the outlets and switches was loose.

Hope this helps
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Old 07-02-2005, 02:21 PM   #23
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


fburke & Lion,

You are aware this thread was started in March. I do hope he has solved this problem since then.
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Old 03-23-2006, 06:32 PM   #24
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


I know this thread is old, but there is an obvious problem, and someone will find this looking for an answer
I have run across this many times ...
There was an open neutral, at the panel, in the meter, at the transformer, or in one of the utility splices
The range allowed an opportunity to balance the load by providing a stabilizing constant load acroos both hot legs, allowing a better phantom neutral balance of the remaining load in the house.
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Old 04-16-2006, 10:24 AM   #25
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


Lets be clear, we are talking about an open circuit, ie no lights. Shorts=sparks like when your TV antenna falls on and cuts insulation of your service lines. Had same type of problem when father took out welder plug from main panel. He forgot to retighten connections. Turn on one light OK, turn on another they dim. Turn on one more they get bright. Age is not your friend when it comes to wiring. Intermittent problems only get worse until you find the cause.
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Old 04-16-2006, 03:14 PM   #26
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


jeromekeating. I think you may have the answer. one of the incomming phases is dropping out. When the stove is on the lights are now running in series with the lights that are suddenly working.

If the electrician could not find a problem in the main panel then the problem my be in the meter socket or in the incomming lines from the utility, purhaps even at the connection to thier transformer.

I have seen this several times before. In one case it only happened when the wind blew in a certain direction.
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Old 04-17-2006, 01:24 PM   #27
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


interesting. Firstly, nothing is impossible when it comes to house wiring. My first thought was exactly what JBfan has stated. It is the only place where they are sharing a connection. Have elec. 3 return and tell him the theory. I bet the light circuits with the problem are on the same bus as the stove? In other words, 220v in to main, splits to two 110 busses, one leg on left one on right. If he cant seem to find a problem, have him move just those two light circuits to the opposite bus. This should be a hour charge max. This could have been a main lug panel and converted to accept a main breaker. I would look here for loose screws, corrosion, black soot from arcing, etc. You could also (with covers removed from the panel) stand there in the dark when the lights arent working and have your wife throw the stove and you could see a small spark perhaps... although this is a long shot... if it were this bad the stove method would probably not work anymore.

good luck and keep us informed!
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Old 04-23-2006, 08:52 AM   #28
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


Think or the stove as a jumper wire between phases. When one phase opens up, the stove bridges single phase loads and adds them to the other phase.

There's a loose wire somewhere. Also, just for a sanity check, I'd examine the wiring for this stove, make sure it really goes back to the panel and doesn't make any interesting stops along the way.
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Old 04-23-2006, 10:33 AM   #29
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


As a lineman for a power company, this problem is very common.

The original poster has a problem with one of the "hot legs" (not phases) either coming into his panel from the transformer or within the meter or at the panel.
Durring his partial power, one of the legs is open or not energized. The range is a 240 Volt device and is supplying electricity to that de-energized leg. There's nothing wrong with the range or the wiring with the range. That's a common question asked to homeowners about partial power calls, do the lights come on when you use the stove, dryer or waterheater?

Your best friend for any wiring project is a good voltmeter. Test voltage at the panel (assuming most homeowner DIYer's can handle and understand what they are looking at). Test one leg to neutral or ground, read the voltage reading. Then test the other the same. Then test leg to leg. You should be around 120V each leg and around 240V leg to leg. Now, if the problem exists and you tested the bus bars, CAREFULLY with dry leather gloves on, reach the test leads to the lugs above the main breaker and test those. That tells you if it's the main breaker or not. Remember to use extreme caution testing anywhere in the panel, especially above the main. You are nolonger protected with any form of fuse or breaker on a fault to ground/neutral. Leather gloves will infact insulate you from 120 Volts, but don't be stupid. Never have two potentials across you, a hot leg and a ground potential. Be the bird on the wire.

Side note: Power companies have increased voltage a while back from 110 volts to 115 volts now to 120 volts. Most houses on my system test about 121 volts each leg and 242 volts leg to leg, at the meter.

In testing, and you don't have 120 volts on one of the legs in the panel, you're done. You have checked the head end of your end of the service. The problem is out of your hands, and luckily for you, it's the power companies problem (possibily). Call them, it's totally free. In fact, call them immediately if you want, anytime. They'll send someone out, for free, and they can tell you in minutes where the problem is. The first thing I do is cut the seal and test power at the meter. Most times rodents in the ground have chewed into one of the cables, or it was damaged while being installed. Or if it's an overhead service, there's a bad connection. Other partial power problems occur after a lightning storm. The tub took a shot and is nolonger working properly, again nothing you or an electrician can do about it.
Some power companies have the customer own their secondaries from the transformer and some companies own the secondary all the way to the meter. Either way, they'll diagnose the problem real quick, for free (and love the 2 hr minimum overtime pay for it).

This is long and long threads are not always read, but the point is just call your power company with goofy power problems. Like I've said a number of times, they'll send someone out and they'll tell you real quick where the problem lies and whose responsible for fixing it. Oh yeah, it's free for you to have them do that. They just want your meter to spin.
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Old 04-23-2006, 02:35 PM   #30
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Three electricans said it was impossible!


Mike, long post or not, THANKS very much for that post!

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