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Old 06-02-2015, 07:37 PM   #1
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Need help isolating problem


Experiencing an intermittent whole home electrical problem - here's the chronology. Two nights ago, noticed a crackling coming from alarm clock. Assumed the clock was dying, unplugged and disregarded. Next day, a surge protector burned out, and as I was removing it, I noticed crackling coming from TV that it was protecting. Later still I found it coming from the stove (from the speaker that sounds when the timer goes off).

Called an electrician who came out the next day, but by the time he arrived, it stopped (of course, right!? )... Now he's gone, and it started back up (FML ).

I have a background in pro audio, so I will say with conviction that this is a crackle, not a hum or a buzz. My first thought was that it was a ground issue as that is the root of most audio buzz - but I have several power conditioners and surge protectors, and they are all showing a ground. Additionally, as I said, this is different from the buzz/hum that I've heard from amplifiers. I plan to call the electrician back out tomorrow, but wondering if anyone can offer any guidance or suggestions. It would be greatly appreciated.
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Old 06-02-2015, 07:50 PM   #2
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Need help isolating problem


You said "whole house." Are you sure these outlets are not on the same breaker? Are they on a breaker that is tied to another. My first guess is a loose neutral connection if you burned up a surge protector.

First thing is to take voltage reading on the suspect outlets.

Second see if you can isolate what breaker(s) feed the problem outlets.

My suggestion anyway.

Also, how old is your house?
Where abouts are you located?
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Old 06-02-2015, 07:54 PM   #3
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Took the alarm clock and plugged it into every outlet in the house, and gave the same crackle. I plugged it into an outlet and had my wife listen while I killed the breakers one by one. The sound remained until I killed the outlet that it was plugged into. Ran the same test on another outlet and same thing.
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:08 PM   #4
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Additionally, home built in '84 - located in Canton, MI (metro-Detroit)
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:15 PM   #5
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Need help isolating problem


No issues with lighting? No dimming or brightening?
Do you have a voltmeter to check voltage?

Could be your outlets.

If you call an electrician back, have him pull one of the offending outlets and check the connections and the what type they are.

Any storm issues or other events that would have brought this on?

Last edited by clw1963; 06-02-2015 at 08:19 PM.
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:23 PM   #6
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I'm going go with poltergeist. It's likely some sort of supernatural being reaching out from the "other side" trying to suck your soul into its dimension through your electronics.

If that isn't it, turn on some lights and observe what happens to them when a large load like a microwave is turned on. I suspect that some will brighten and others will dim. If that is the case, you may have a bad neutral somewhere in your service.
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:36 PM   #7
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I'm no pro. but I do pay attention. The last weird intermittent I had (dishwasher) was caused by a loose neutral screw at the fuse box. So, my suggestion is to open the panel and tighten all the connections.
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:42 PM   #8
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I've thought about it and tried to mentally isolate the issue - think of anything inside or outside the house that could be a trigger - and I seriously can't come up with anything.

Phase, while I don't believe in poltergeists, I don't not believe in poltergeists. So even though I don't suspect the supernatural, I certainly won't rule it out either (sometimes the humor is so dry I can't even tell if I'm being sarcastic anymore...)

I've been searching around online, and have been led back to the topic of bad neutral several times. We just moved in and already have several other projects going, I'm just really hoping that the cost doesn't get out of control. Safety first, no doubt, but I have growing concerns.

Last edited by even22even; 06-02-2015 at 08:46 PM.
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:45 PM   #9
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Crackling usually indicates arcing somewhere
Which usually means dirty contacts or loose splice
First check your neutral
To test use a volt meter
Turn on a large 240v load
Check both hots reletive to neutral
Is one down? Whilst the other is up ?
If so ? You have a bad neutral !
This is the most likely senario !

If you feel that you cannot do this safely ?
Then don't do it at all !
Messing with your main panel
Is dangerous and commands the utmost respect !

Instead call an electrician !
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Old 06-02-2015, 08:50 PM   #10
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Thanks DMX - I'm confident in my own ability to follow directions, but know the electric is nothing to f--k with. I'm calling the electrician back in regardless, but am hoping to pinpoint the issue as to reduce his time problem solving and lower my bill if at all possible. Student loans, and new home, and renovations, and what not...
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Old 06-03-2015, 12:19 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by even22even View Post
Thanks DMX - I'm confident in my own ability to follow directions, but know the electric is nothing to f--k with. I'm calling the electrician back in regardless, but am hoping to pinpoint the issue as to reduce his time problem solving and lower my bill if at all possible. Student loans, and new home, and renovations, and what not...
You'll need a volt meter to do much more.
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Old 06-03-2015, 07:12 AM   #12
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A lot to mull over here. I'm out of my league so I'm having the electrician come by today. Most things I'm reading suggest that arcing is occurring somewhere, and a bad neutral may be to blame. We'll see what they say today.
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Old 06-03-2015, 07:46 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by even22even View Post
A lot to mull over here. I'm out of my league so I'm having the electrician come by today. Most things I'm reading suggest that arcing is occurring somewhere, and a bad neutral may be to blame. We'll see what they say today.
???????????????

arcing will be from loose connection and the sound is the "arcing"

you say you have crackling sound from speakers....

go to studio build

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/

(may be a loose neutral?? interesting..)

Last edited by ritelec; 06-03-2015 at 07:49 AM.
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Old 06-03-2015, 10:03 AM   #14
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Do you stil have incandescent lights? Move some of these around from room to room and take note of any abnormal dimness or brightness or flickering especially as you use appliances or hair dryer.
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