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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
My family purchased a house about a month ago and we're some electrical problems.

*) The first two weeks seemed ok.

*) Last week though, we had two power outages:

The first time the lights flickered and then the power went out to the first floor AND the 220v computer server outlet in the basement. The upstairs had clocks plugged in but did NOT lose their time. Power was out for about 60 seconds.

The second time it was similar but the lights did not flicker or go out before losing power. Power was out for about 10 seconds.

Today the lights flickered (both upstairs and downstairs) but did not lose power.

No circuits have been tripped at any time.

*) PPL Electric came out and checked the lines. They said the outside was good but "they could see a problem on the inside." but gave no specific information about how they could see that by doing a test from the outside.

*) Electrician came out and checked inside panel and didn't see any problems except for this:
****** The outside electrical box (meter) had apparantly been torn off the wall at some point (due to ground settling, etc) and it ripped the neutral wire off the bar and so somebody jumpered it with a smaller wire to "fix" the problem. He said this should be fixed at some point but probably isn't the source of my problems...

What can be going on here?! :(
 

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So, why didn't the electrician fix the problem? Until that wiring for the Neutral gets fixed, you will always have issues, plus could see the house go up in flames, if not fixed. Also you need to recheck the inspection report, to see if the home inspector stated anything of this nature, so you have something to go back on, to go have the sellers if it was not a foreclosure, to have them help pay the costs to fix this disaster.
 

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Most likely one of the two hot lines is failing. This would caus about half of the house (not a clean north/south or left/right division) and also all of the 240 volt circuits to go dead.

Note that if any 240 volt appliances were turned on at the time, the affected half of the house lights could flicker rather than go out completely. This is because current from the good hot line might go through a 240 volt appliance (without causing it to operate) and re-energize the circuits fed by the bad hot line. In so doing the voltage available to the lights on the bad line will be reduced since some voltage is "absorbed" in the appliance in question.

The failure, if it is whole-house, er, half-house, could be in or under the main breaker or it could be in the line from the main breaker up to the meter. It is up to you to find out. If the problem is in or near the main breaker, that area will heat up during the times the problem is happening and, if allowed to go on for long, could damage the panel beyond repair.

In the panel you should be able to see the large lugs that hold the fat wires coming in from the meter. Check for heating or discoloration on these lugs. Flip off all 240 volt appliances (usually they have double breakers) while testing. If you do not measure voltage dropping when you measure from hot to neutral on these large lugs and the problem is happening then the problem is probably in or under a breaker.

Similar large lugs are inside the meter box, which you won't be able to examine. We cannot rule out a loose connection there.
 

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We had a house in my area burn down for this exact problum.
Power company was changing out old poles and trimming trees at the same time.
A dropped nutral occured and it took out anything in the hose that was plugged in at the time.
After that they called dozens of times complaining about a burning smell and they refused to come back and do anything.
A week later the house burns down. Took them 2 years in court to get any money to rebuild.
DO NOT PUT THIS REPAIR OFF!
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks for the replies everybody.

The electrician said he was going to call me today with an estimate on replacing the meter base and I just spoke with him a few minutes ago.

It's going to cost $575 and they are doing it this morning/afternoon. (that includes the PPL charge for disconnection/inspection/reconnection)

It sounds like this isn't something to screw around with so I'm just going to have it fixed... Hopefully this fixes my problems!
 

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As stated you should really get an electrician to troubleshoot this problem and fix it the right way. The meter needs to be pulled so the main lugs can be worked on and the neutral wire fixed.

If all that is wrong is the main lugs and the neutral the bill should not be too high. If you need a new panel then it might get pricey but it needs to be done.

EDIT: Sorry I just saw your post after updating the page.
 

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Thanks for the replies everybody.

The electrician said he was going to call me today with an estimate on replacing the meter base and I just spoke with him a few minutes ago.

It's going to cost $575 and they are doing it this morning/afternoon. (that includes the PPL charge for disconnection/inspection/reconnection)

It sounds like this isn't something to screw around with so I'm just going to have it fixed... Hopefully this fixes my problems!
Hopefully you are able to go back to the seller and have the pay the costs, since they did not disclose. You never stated if this was a foreclosure, or regular sell.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Oh, sorry. This was a regular sell.

I've spoken with my real estate agent and he thinks the only course of action would be to sue them and get a lawyer.

The sellers were not the original home owners so they might not have known about the issue, but I'd be shocked if they didn't also have flickering lights and power outages. I might persue this to try and recover the money, but what if the sellers just say that they didn't have the issue? Taking them to court or mediation is very expensive and probably more expensive than just fixing the problem, no?
 

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I would still make a filing with the county and state board of realtors, and Professional license board against the home inspector, due to 1) Not in disclosure, 2) The HI should have saw that during their inspection if you had one.

Here in Illinois, even after 30 daus, if you find something like this, the court will agree with you if not in disclosure and settle an amount in small claims.

First thing thou, ai would send in writing to them explaining what te electrician found, a vopy of in their words what they found, and see if they will come forth and settle on half, to stay out of court.
 

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What if this is just happening? What if it is no one's fault?
I'm not sure why we as a country have gotten it into our heads that EVERYTHING is someone else's fault.

sofakng, I am not saying you are looking to blame anyone or get something fixed for nothing, but all this talk of suing and litigation and courts just makes my blood boil.
It is entirely possible that this just happens to be happening.

How old is the house?
Any other issues?
I am curious as to how the POCO and the electrician did not find anything at all.
 

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Thanks for the replies everybody.

The electrician said he was going to call me today with an estimate on replacing the meter base
Did he say this was causing the problems ?
Or is it just something that needs to be done ?

Most competant electricains would have no problems sorting
out a routine fault like this.

Why is he not telling you clearly whats causing the problems ?
He sounds sus to me !

I think you need a more reputable electricain !
 

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The repair bill is going to be $575? Not really worth going after anyone for anything....

I'm up to $4,000+ for problems I'm certain the previous owners of my house knew about. But they're best friends with my next door neighbors. It could get awkward if I decided that they should pay for not telling me the house had termite damage, a leaking roof, or leaking shower supply line (all things missed by the HI, by the way).
 
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