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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Tonight I was at work and get a call from my wife telling me that she called the fire dept because some wire in the boiler room went on fire. Any way they were put out before any damage was done. But what she told me was that on the water line there are 2 heavy grounds, not the main box grounds they are in the yard but 2 others. One goes to the stove(220volts) the other I don't know where it goes. She said that when she turned on the dryer one of the heavy grounds was arcing. That is when the wires from the circuit box for the boiler started to smoke and one actually caught fire. I don't know why that would have happened as it goes to the breaker box. I left work to check the problem and what I found was the main grounds were loose and when they moved they arced. The lights in the house also flickered. I tightened them to prevent the arcing. But the boilers wiring had been burnt. I replaced them and checked the boiler to make sure it worked, then shut the breaker for the night until I can figure what is wrong if anything.

Any ideas.
 

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JUSTA MEMBER
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You have crossed wires somewhere.

Ground wires should never be energized enough to cause arcing.

Ground wires are only to carry current during a short circuit, or crossed wires.

A thorough investigation is needed , You know this already or you would not have turned the breaker off.

ED
 

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DOUBLE DITTO !

You have a dangerous situation !
Your grounds should NOT be carrying any current
Let alone enough to arc !
Turn off your main breaker and get an electrician
to find out what went wrong.

DO IT NOW !

:surprise:
 

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You have a compromised neutral or you have current from outside your house trying to return on your neutral. You need to figure this out before someone gets shocked or you start burning things up. You may need a amp meter to figure this out.
 

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You have a compromised neutral or you have current from outside your house trying to return on your neutral. You need to figure this out before someone gets shocked or you start burning things up. You may need a amp meter to figure this out.
Yeah, a compromised neutral can do a lot of damage.

When the dryer was turned on, the boiler got nailed with close or over 200 volts. Of course, I could be in left field on this.

But as you said, lots of other things could burn up if not corrected quickly.
 

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Are you in a neighborhood? As opposed to out in the country?
Do you have metal piping for water or gas distribution between houses?

What needs to be done by a qualified electrician

1. Turn off all power and measure for current on the metallic piping system , where the pipes enter the house. If there is current this is a product of a the utility distribution and common water piping system.
2. Place a amp meter (clamp or flexible) around all three incoming main conductors and turn on circuit breakers one at a time, when he measures current that is the culprit circuit. You will need load on the system to make the more efficient.
3. A ground conductor run from the stove needs to be looked into as this is not the norm.
4. You need to locate where the other "ground" conductor goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 · (Edited)
You have crossed wires somewhere.

Ground wires should never be energized enough to cause arcing.

Ground wires are only to carry current during a short circuit, or crossed wires.

A thorough investigation is needed , You know this already or you would not have turned the breaker off.

ED

I don't know what wires could have been crossed. Nothing has been done to the electrical system in the house for a few years, especially in that area. The arcing happened because the ground was loose. It could have been like this for the last 10 years if it hadn't gotten loose.
 

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@stevez "The arcing happened because the ground was loose." Doesn't sound right. A loose neutral will raise havoc but it is not connected to the ground. The ground is never supposed to be energized in any way, especially enough to result in arcing.

As has been stated, somewhere that ground (and I assume it is a ground and not a neutral) has been connected as a current carrying conductor. The obvious places to start are those you mentioned, the boiler and the dryer.

Bud
 

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I am surprised that the Firemen have not RED FLAGGED this as a danger, and shut you off until a proper inspection and repair occurs.

They sure will in my area.

A ground should never be energized unless it is messed up.

Get a Professional Electrician in there PRONTO.


ED
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Are you in a neighborhood? As opposed to out in the country?
Do you have metal piping for water or gas distribution between houses?

What needs to be done by a qualified electrician

1. Turn off all power and measure for current on the metallic piping system , where the pipes enter the house. If there is current this is a product of a the utility distribution and common water piping system.
2. Place a amp meter (clamp or flexible) around all three incoming main conductors and turn on circuit breakers one at a time, when he measures current that is the culprit circuit. You will need load on the system to make the more efficient.
3. A ground conductor run from the stove needs to be looked into as this is not the norm.
4. You need to locate where the other "ground" conductor goes.



4--that ground looks to go to the breaker box.
 

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That problem has probably been there for 20 years and was never noticed until the ground loosened up for some reason.
Why in the world would you think it's been that way for 20 years? That doesn't make any sense. Loose/open service neutral connections don't START OUT loose or open, they end up that way after many years due to corrosion, damage, or other changes over time. There may also have been some very fundamental wiring errors made, but your descriptions are nowhere near specific enough to tell. Based on the symptoms you describe, though, it seems clear that you have load current travelling on your grounding system. That is never acceptable, no matter how long it may or may not have been going on. You are in way over your head and need a professional electrician to evaluate this immediately (like, before you turn the power back on).
 

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Stevez,
At the point your wife noticed this problem you said she had started the dryer. Check what wire they used for that run.

As for this problem having been there for 20 years, certainly possible as using a copper ground as a neutral works just fine UNTIL you need the protection afforded by having them isolated all the way back to the panel.

You could do some testing with one of those plugs that identifies correct wiring, but it won't do all or do the 240v.

Somewhere something is wired wrong, not just the lose connection you tightened.

Bud
 
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4--that ground looks to go to the breaker box.
You have what is commonly referred to as a ground loop due to possibly a boot legged neutral, sharing current with neighbors, maybe worse*1 be it in just your house or shared among neighbors, the source NEEDS to be located.

A loose connection elsewhere in your residence could result in a fire

*1- The maybe worse on more than one occasion while chasing ground current we have found electric heaters with a broken element, one side grounds out and the level of ground current in this circumstance can be fairly high.
 

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That problem has probably been there for 20 years and was never noticed until the ground loosened up for some reason.
After 20 years, it probably time to fix the problem before someone is killed. Luck only last so long.
 
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