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Old 08-11-2010, 08:23 PM   #1
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HELP ASAP! 150V one line and 80V other!


My electricity in my home has started acting up since last winter.
Today however everything started going nuts, washer dryer turning on and off repeatedly, lights flickering, etc.
Just measured my main 240V breaker @ 150v on one bar, 80v the other!
WTF is going on?

Please help as soon as possible!
Is this a problem I have or my electrical company?
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:30 PM   #2
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You lost a neutral.

Since the neutral lost in this case is part of your service equipment, I have to recommend you call a professional.

Whether you call an electrician or the PoCo is a toss up. Some PoCo's will only check up to the weather head, some will check into and out of the meter pan. PoCo will usually do this for free or a minimal charge while an electrician will charge you a ful service fee. But if the problem is past the weatherhead (such as a splice on the overhead line coming from the transformer) the electrician can't do much.
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Last edited by Proby; 08-11-2010 at 08:34 PM.
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:32 PM   #3
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Thanks proby, I have already phoned my electrician multiple times lol
His phone is off.

This would explain why it has been a developing problem.

Where would I look for this neutral? I assume it is the one for the main breaker right?
I am experienced with electrical but this one blew me away.

I think it may be loose in the company's meter reading side, since I checked all my grounds months ago.
Would they be able to open their side and inspect it?

Last edited by wtfh4xx; 08-11-2010 at 08:36 PM.
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:35 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wtfh4xx View Post
Thanks proby, I have already phoned my electrician multiple times lol
His phone is off.

This would explain why it has been a developing problem.

Where would I look for this neutral? I assume it is the one for the main breaker right?
I am experienced with electrical but this one blew me away.
I added a little more to my last past, take a look.

It could be the neutral in your panel, in the meter pan, up at the splice at the weather head, or out on the lines. There's no way to tell for sure without checking it.

This neutral could be heating up, touching it could be dangerous, it could lead to a burn, a large arc, or shock. This neutral can have a huge amount of current running thru it which is why I recommend having a pro do it.
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:38 PM   #5
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I appreciate your fast reply very much!
My suspicion is that it is in the meter box.
Calling the PoCo and if they cant fix it, which I think they will then I'll get my electrician over tomorrow.

And yes, I fully understand what your saying, I wont touch anything.
I know im pulling an active 40amps or more right now, dont want that going through my body. :0
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:39 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wtfh4xx View Post
I appreciate your fast reply very much!
My suspicion is that it is in the meter box.
Calling the PoCo and if they cant fix it, which I think they will then I'll get my electrician over tomorrow.
Let us know how it works out.

Does the problem still exist or does it come and go? Right now you have a serious undervoltage problem on one leg and overvoltage problem on the other. You can damage a lot of your devices.
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:40 PM   #7
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Can motors, electronics etc burn up under these conditions ?
Just wondering if some items should not be used or unplugged



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Old 08-11-2010, 08:47 PM   #8
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Yes, thats why I was so worried!
I am turning off everything not needed.

The problem comes and goes, just never been this bad.
Usually only 10 volts or so up to 20v difference
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:55 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wtfh4xx View Post
Yes, thats why I was so worried!
I am turning off everything not needed.

The problem comes and goes, just never been this bad.
Usually only 10 volts or so up to 20v difference
The voltage difference between legs depends on the load you have on the system, NOT on the extent of the "problem".

Meaning, the problem has always been the same, you just had a more even load on each leg than you do right now, which is why the voltage variation is worse.

If you had 30 amps being drawn on both legs, you would be fine even without the neutral. If you have 30 amps on leg A and 15 amps on leg B, leg A would have 60 volts and leg B would have 180 volts when the neutral is loose.
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Old 08-11-2010, 08:58 PM   #10
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Thanks Proby, I have electrician here now and he is saying the same thing.
Calling PG&E to get out here.
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Old 08-11-2010, 10:08 PM   #11
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PG&E is installing a volt recorder to monitor the box for the next few days to make sure nothings wrong on the pole.
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Old 08-12-2010, 07:36 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wtfh4xx View Post
PG&E is installing a volt recorder to monitor the box for the next few days to make sure nothings wrong on the pole.
Did they check all the wiring in your panel and meter pan?
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Old 08-12-2010, 10:33 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wtfh4xx View Post
Usually only 10 volts or so up to 20v difference
More than 3 vac difference measured at the outlets means a problem.

Any difference measured at the panel, where one leg goes down while the other leg goes up, is a problem.
You can access the voltage at the panel without removing the panel cover by measuring the voltages at an elec. dryer outlet with the dryer off. In this case you are using the dryer cable as voltage sensing leads.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wtfh4xx View Post
PG&E is installing a volt recorder to monitor the box for the next few days to make sure nothings wrong on the pole.
Since your symptoms are easily reproducible or always present I don't know what they expect to learn by recording voltages over time. That method is used for intermittent problems.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 08-12-2010 at 10:36 AM.
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Old 08-12-2010, 10:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wtfh4xx View Post
PG&E is installing a volt recorder to monitor the box for the next few days to make sure nothings wrong on the pole.
They should really visually check everything on the line side of the meter and also do a load test at the meter. This test involves a device called a "beast" that plugs in where the meter would. It puts a 80A load on one phase and has two voltmeters to record voltage changes with unbalanced loads.

Here's a link:

http://www.arnettindustries.com/pdf/...t-brochure.pdf
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Old 08-12-2010, 10:44 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by busman View Post
It puts a 80A load on one phase and has two voltmeters to record voltage changes with unbalanced loads.

Here's a link:

http://www.arnettindustries.com/pdf/...t-brochure.pdf
80 A giving you a 30 vac drop from 120 vac with no load on the other leg means a neutral resistance of 30/80 = 0.38 ohms. You'd see 30 vac across this bad connection rather than millivolts.
With DVMs today resolving 0.1 vac or 0.01 vac even a 10 A load [hair dryer, iron, toaster] would reveal the problem.

I'd say anything substantially over 0.03 ohms is bad.

Last edited by Yoyizit; 08-12-2010 at 10:50 AM.
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