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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
A few months ago something happened that caused me to check the voltage in an outlet. It read 140v, so I decided to not use that circuit and put it out of my mind. A few weeks ago, I noticed the low voltage lights slightly flickering, but the regular lights weren't, so just figured it was a fluke. Last night, the third appliance in 6 months has crapped out. Tested the outlet the fridge was plugging into and it read at 145 volts. (I think the fridge has a conditioner on it, so maybe it was only pulling the 120 it needed? Not sure there.) I went around and tested all my circuits. They all ranged from 140v to the highest at 150v. I put a call into the power company and they're sending someone out to, "Check the meter."
Do you think something is feeding back from somewhere in my house and causing the high voltage everywhere, or is this coming from the transformer? How do I check for this? (I don't know that much about power, just enough to be dangerous. My husband on the other hand used to work with high voltage, but not home power.) I know the power company isn't going to take any responsibility and more than likely going to blame me. I just want to be armed with information. I'm out almost 8k in appliances. Thanks so much!!
 

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It's possible that you have an open neutral. That can be a dangerous condition. The problem could be on the utility's side of the meter, or on your side. Let the power company take a look and say what they think. If they don't find the problem, then it is best to call an electrician ASAP to look at things.

In the meantime, it would be a good idea to at least shut off 120V appliances, like the refrigerator, to prevent damage. Shut off everything, if you can.
 

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Yeah, a high voltage like that usually has a backside: Others of your outlets will be equally *low* voltage.

What's happening is a lost neutral from the service (it's usually from the service) - you have 240V between the hots as intended, but nothing keeps neutral in the middle anymore. It floats around based on the loads on each 120V leg in that moment.

Now if you say **all** your outlets are high voltage, my first thought is "Did you really check every last one of them? Because if you were checking only the ones on one leg, that would explain that.

Or if you're in multi-unit housing, especially older stock, you might be getting (mostly) one leg of the service. That happened to me once - we had the power company out inside of an hour, on a Sunday, to fix it. Guy got up on the pole, grabbed our neutral and wagged it back and forth, to show me it was totally disconnected.

So check it out, and also check any 240V sockets you have (dryer etc). See if you can find a "low voltage" other leg. If so, you have a lost neutral, and that is an outage, and you should shut power off and call the PoCo immediately and report an outage.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks. We are in a rural area and our property is at the end of a run. We've had a lot of problems with the power when we first moved out here, but they have since upgraded the entire system and it seems better. We used to lose power and have brown outs a lot, even with the slightest breeze. We live in Florida, so the afternoon storms can be quite strong, taking down trees and lines, so losing power is always expected.
You're right, I didn't check the 240v circuits, as that involves moving appliances around. I'm guessing the neutral is the issue, as the power company was just here and surprise, they didn't find anything on their end.
Thanks for all the help.
 

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I'm not an electrician. But A few years ago, my new dishwasher blew a touchpad. Then it did it again. A short while later, I was adding a bathroom and was looking (poking) in the panel with the electrical inspector. We saw an arc from the neutral bus. The kitchen lights flickered. A turn on the screw and the dishwasher hasn't given a lick of trouble in 4 years. Open neutral sounds like a good bet.
 

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In practically all cases open neutral problems are not more likely because you are at the end of a long street.

The open neutral is somewhere between the pole transformer serving your house (usually within three utility poles) and the receptacle into which the affected light or appliance was plugged.

If at tghe time yhou measured 145 volts hot to neutral, there are some other receptacles that measured close to 120 volts hot to neutral then the open neutral is inside your house.

If every receptacle is either 145 volts or 95 volts (or either of any two voltages that add up to about 240) the the problem is somewhere between your house panel and the utility pole transofrmer inclusive.

Caution: If electricity usage changes including the refrigerator or furnace/boiler kicking on or off then the two voltages will change (but still add up to about 120) and if you are in the middle of measuring your receptacles one by one then different voltages will appear and confuse your results.If you are dong the test two paragraphs preceding, measure the two receptacles alternating and repeat twice more. If the first receptacle reacing remained unchanged and also the second receptacle reading remained unchanged then you candraw conclusions based on the two readings.i
 
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Lots of stories of utility co's coming out to investigate open neutrals and
reporting that they found nothing, but miraculously the problem is gone
when they leave..........

VERY VERY TRUE.....^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

(BS'n with a crew, they have even told me so....if a liability of burned up appliances etc are possibly involved, they are told to fix it and say nothing.)
 

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Lots of stories of utility co's coming out to investigate open neutrals and
reporting that they found nothing, but miraculously the problem is gone
when they leave..........
I was troubleshooting 25 volts to ground at a hot tub and traced it back to meter.
Underground service, and a main disconnect on the outside. I talked to the guy that came out and he tested his transformer and found nothing.

3 days later, I go back and found fresh dirt in front of the meter and a tag on the customer side of the meter.

The voltage was gone, and the POCO never explained what they found or did.
 

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You have an Open Neutral.
Shut off the Main Circuit Breaker - Call the Power Company and tell the you have an electrical emergency, an open neutral.
They will check their side for free.
Not fixing this will burn up almost every appliance in your house, including your furnace .
 
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