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Old 04-16-2009, 12:25 PM   #1
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Voltage drop


I installed 6 lights in my basement, and used 14g wire. I pulled out one of the old 20 amp breakers that had nothing connected to it, and put in a new 15 amp one. Everyitng worked fine, however now when I run my washing machine, or my microwave, or hot weater kicks on, I get a voltage drop, all around the house. You can see the lights I just installed pulsing in time with the washing machine. The washing maching is on its own breaker, and so is the microwave. I cant understand why changing one breaker woud give me this problem. I thought maby they gave me the wrong breaker, the new one is not quite as tight in the box as the old one. I tried takeing out the new breaker but I still have the problem.

The old breakers are ITE EQ-P, the new one I got from Home Depot are SIEMENS QP

Any thoughts on what I should check to fix this?

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Old 04-16-2009, 01:18 PM   #2
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Voltage drop


I think you loosened a wire.

Does the voltage actually drop on a meter? Does the main breaker feel warm with several loads on. With the main off, tighten all of the neutrals and grounds.

Do you have aluminum wire? Does the main neutral feel loose? Do the main hots feel loose? Do not use a lot of pressure though!

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Old 04-16-2009, 01:25 PM   #3
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Voltage drop


And watch out for arc-flash.
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Old 04-16-2009, 02:17 PM   #4
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Voltage drop


Have not noticed it gitting warm, where should I put a meater at? on the Breaker to my washing machine? or to one of the others to my house? Its copper wire, and I made sure the ground and netural were real snug. It does not matter if the ground and the netural are in the same hole on the netural bar...right? I did not connect them that way, but I did notice some of the other things are wired up with neturals and grounds in the same hole in the netural bar.
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Old 04-16-2009, 02:49 PM   #5
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Voltage drop


You should first of all, turn off all power using the main, and fix those grounds and neutrals. Rule is one per hole.

Just measure around the house at different receptacles.


If this is a main, you can have grounds and neutrals on the same bar. If its a sub panel, you have to keep them separate and the neutral bar must be isolated from the panel.

Are these pushmatic style breakers?

Last edited by rgsgww; 04-16-2009 at 02:52 PM.
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Old 04-16-2009, 03:16 PM   #6
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Voltage drop


The OP issue sounds very similar to the problem I am having with all my houselights going up/down in brightness, mine appears to be mainly when the washer or perhaps the dryer in my basement suite is turned on. Hopefully we can both find a resolution to our issues. Maybe my basement dryer has the wrong wire or a faulty breaker? I am dubious about my breakers as they are all pretty old.
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Old 04-16-2009, 03:54 PM   #7
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Switching on a hair dryer should result in a less than a 0.5v drop at the panel. More than that means a high resistance connection somewhere.
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Old 04-16-2009, 09:34 PM   #8
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Now that I think on it , I have not notices any lights dimming when I run my dryer. Wonder why that is.
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Old 04-16-2009, 10:00 PM   #9
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Voltage drop


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Originally Posted by jsellers224 View Post
Now that I think on it , I have not notices any lights dimming when I run my dryer. Wonder why that is.
Your neutral and ground should not be double tapped, (both under the same lug).

Sounds like your service neutral is loose or has a poor connection. This is a very good time to call an electrician.

Remember that even with the main off, the service wires coming into your panel are live, and you should never touch those lugs.


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Old 04-16-2009, 10:07 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by jsellers224 View Post
Now that I think on it , I have not notices any lights dimming when I run my dryer. Wonder why that is.

Because you have a problem with your service neutral, and your dryer is likely 240 (possibly draws a small 120 load for the motor, that would use the neutral), it is not using the neutral, everything that is 120v is going to need your service neutral, hence the reason everything else is having problems.

My first advice of calling for professional help stands, but in the mean time, if you want to post some photos of your panel and the connections in it, we can provide some feedback for you.

Is your panel connected to the water pipe (metal water pipes)? Whatever you do, do not disconnect this for any reason, not even to just re-tighten the terminal. It is possiable it is serving as a return path to the transformer if your service neutral is not making a good connection for some reason.

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Old 04-16-2009, 10:15 PM   #11
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Is that something to call the power company about? Or something I have to take care of?
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Old 04-16-2009, 10:54 PM   #12
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Is that something to call the power company about? Or something I have to take care of?
You can call the powerco to have them check the service drop and connections at the pole. However, 19 time out of 20 when we here about this happening, it seems the problem ends up being a connection in the panel or the service cable from the meter to your panel, both of which you are normally responsible for.

Most powerco's will check the outside stuff for free, so it normally doesn't hurt anything to call them as a first step.

Since you were working in and around your panel, I would suspect that something got bumped, or strands of the service cable got damaged...

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Old 04-16-2009, 11:00 PM   #13
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whats arc-flash?
He's the super fast hero of the trigonometry world. He comes and goes periodically, eats all your pi, and rarely leaves a sine...
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Old 04-16-2009, 11:01 PM   #14
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whats arc-flash?
Ever seen a electric welder? Think of one about 10 times larger than the biggest one you've ever seen. That's what happens if you touch the wrong things in your electrical panel. It can create a large arc between 2 connections, that causes a large flash, while it burns the metal wires and throws hot burning molten metal in your face far faster than you can get out of the way.

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Old 04-17-2009, 07:46 AM   #15
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He's the super fast hero of the trigonometry world. He comes and goes periodically, eats all your pi, and rarely leaves a sine...
That is true, unless he goes on a tangent and looses his bearing, then all bets are off.

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