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Old 09-09-2009, 09:55 AM   #1
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Spiking electricity problem

I recently got help with grounding my system here, and now I have another, bigger problem.
I can use the picture from last time to show what I'm talking about.

This is how it's wired. There are no ground wires going from panel to panel, but rather each panel has its own ground rod. http://bzsk.net/woeandenvy/Image1.JPG
About two months ago, I noticed the lights in the building on "Slab 2" flickering, but they weren't getting dimmer, they were getting brighter, as if the power was spiking upward. It was bad enough to make the battery backup I have freak out every time it happened. I noticed it also happens in the building on "Slab 1" when it's going on, and would do it while the main breaker going out to "slab 2" was off. It did this sporadically for about a month and then stopped. The main house does not have this problem. This was the original reason I decided to ground the place, to make sure that had nothing to do with it.
I finished grounding the system about two weeks ago, and everything has been fine until this morning when I got home from work it started doing it again. It hasn't rained in several days, either.

I'm told that the wire that's about 265' long was buried without any conduit. That was about twelve years ago, and this is central Florida.
Before I save up $600 for a new wire and conduit, Does it sound like that is almost surely the cause of my problem?
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Old 09-09-2009, 10:38 AM   #2
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The main cause of lights going brighter is a loose neutral. Check all the neutral connections of the main supply to the building. Have the POCO come out and check there connections as well.
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Old 09-09-2009, 11:55 AM   #3
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It is still desirable to test neutral problems to help find their exact location.

If you can measure the voltage right where the service conductors enter the breaker panel you can at least prove whether the problem is inside or outside the building. It would be nice to be able to measure voltage at the meter but you cannot get at those terminals.

If multiple buildings are affected in rhythm, the chances are very great the problem is in the power company's wires.

All of the ground rods for a given building should be connected together electrically (bonded) using a heavy copper wire. No. 6 gauge is the minimum for typical residential installations. In addition each panel should be bonded to a ground rod with such a wire without splices, possibly the same wire.

An improved grounding system will alleviate a neutral problem for small loads (total amperes under five or so). Ground is not that great a conductor so a large load will still cause a neutral problem to show up.
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Last edited by AllanJ; 09-09-2009 at 12:01 PM.
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