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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
When I'm not running any high load device in the house the voltage of outlets connected to different legs is about the same - 123 volts on one and 120 volts on the other.

When I run a high load device I'm noticing a bigger voltage difference between the two- For example with the toaster and coffee machine on I measure 131 volts on an outlet connected to the same leg (but not necessarily the same circuit) as the toaster and coffee machine and 112 volts on an outlet on the other leg. This is not a momentary difference- it remains the same until the load is turned off. The biggest difference I've noticed is 26 volts between the two legs- 134 volts vs 108 volts. Is this normal?

It is not circuit specific; I can recreate the issue between any circuit breakers as long as they are on separate legs (For example I see the same thing between outlets on circuit breakers 2 and 4 as I do with circuit breakers 3 and 5.)

Thanks in advance.
 

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Craftsman
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Most likely you have a neutral connection problem at the service connections (usually found at the pole, servicehead or connection box if underground where connections are exposed to weather and moisture). Most power companies will check this for you and repair if it is their problem. If in the service equipment (meter, panel or disconnect) you may have to pay for repairs.
 

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What he said. Call the power company first. It's free.

They will put a 1000 watt laod on one leg and test voltage on the other.

Take care of it right away. If the neutral connection fails completely, you can toast a lot of appliances and equipment with 240V.
 

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You have a loose neutral. It is pretty serious (unplug $$$ electronics, surge suppressors will NOT protect from this type of problem.)

Have your power company check out your service for a loose neutral. If they find nothing, you should have an electrician check out your panel and meter connections.
 

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For an electrician to check, well, it depends on how much he charges. What he needs to replace, etc. Most of the time he just needs to torque the bolts down.

Now if you don't unplug electronics...its going to cost much more.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Thanks everyone for the quick response- I'm going to contact the power company and will report back.
 

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I measure 131 volts on an outlet connected to the same leg (but not necessarily the same circuit) as the toaster and coffee machine and 112 volts on an outlet on the other leg.
This means there is (131-112)/2 = ~9v [instead of a few microvolts] across your bad neutral connection.
It will probably be warm. I imagine they sometimes make a frying sound.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Update: Power Company is here; pulled the meter and ran a test and there is an obvious fault of some sort with the underground line running between the meter and the transformer. They've traced it to a specific location in the yard and are digging.
 

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Dang, you have a nice power company. What a fast response.

Should be able to splice and fix it. Depends on the quality of the wire already in place.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Problem Fixed!

The neutral was almost completely severed- apparently there was an old splice were the line from the transformer joined the line that was stubbed out from the meter when the house was built- it didn't even look like metal anymore- all white and crusty. They cut out the bad part and spliced in a new wire.

Props to the linemen at Dominion Power- they found and fixed the problem very fast.

Thanks everyone for their advice to call the power company!
 

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Dang, you have a nice power company. What a fast response.

Should be able to splice and fix it. Depends on the quality of the wire already in place.

They're fast whenever a customer complains of an open neutral because they'd be liable if any equipment were to fry or led to a fatality. I had a neighbor who had this problem that I noticed by looking at the attachment on the utility pole. It was completely unattached to the transformer. Everything in the house was working ok because she had a grounding electrode conductor attached to an underground copper water pipe and her neutral current was returning to the source that way. She called the utility and less than 3 hours later they were there fixing it.
 
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