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I've lived in this house for the past 8 years, never had a problem. until a few months ago the lights in the living room, oven, fridge and central air all started to stop working sporadically. checked the breakers and they don't get thrown. noticed that the light is actually getting enough power to do a strange flickering thing. then miraculously the whole problem went away. that is until this morning. same thing with the lights. according to the labels on my panel they are all on the bottom half of the breaker. the last 4 innuse actually. anyone have any idea what is possibly going wrong here?
 
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ackbarthestar

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Mentor
Arms
Here are some possible causes. Loose connections, damage caused by rodent attack. It maybe wise to get a registered electrician in to check the wiring. Has the Ground Fault circuit interupter tripped out?
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #3
Here are some possible causes. Loose connections, damage caused by rodent attack. It maybe wise to get a registered electrician in to check the wiring. Has the Ground Fault circuit interupter tripped out?
no tripping of anything. i removed the circuit breakers and there was some sticky orangish stuff on the part that connects to the panel.
 

Megawatt

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Arms
no tripping of anything. i removed the circuit breakers and there was some sticky orangish stuff on the part that connects to the panel.
Mullet I could be wrong but I think the problem is probably an earthing problem
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no tripping of anything. i removed the circuit breakers and there was some sticky orangish stuff on the part that connects to the panel.
Mullet you need to call an electrician that sounds so much like you have lost or are loosing continuity between your panel and your ground rods. The devices you discribed acting up are all 120vac what’s happening is when it’s acting up you could have 180-190 on these outlets
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Mullet I could be wrong but I think the problem is probably an earthing problem
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Mullet you need to call an electrician that sounds so much like you have lost or are loosing continuity between your panel and your ground rods. The devices you discribed acting up are all 120vac what’s happening is when it’s acting up you could have 180-190 on these outlets
What part of the States are you from?
 
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  • #7
while I'm not an electrician i am typically handy. is there nothing that can be tried before my wallet takes a hit? I'm just outside of Philadelphia btw.
 

Megawatt

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Arms
while I'm not an electrician i am typically handy. is there nothing that can be tried before my wallet takes a hit? I'm just outside of Philadelphia btw.
You need to go where your meter is, they should be one # 6 bare wire it should be around 1/8 inch in diameter that is the most important wire you have for safety. Some people have a meter with a panel outside and some people just have meters and the panel is in the house. Check that wire and make sure it’s not loose from the ground rods. The other end of that wire terminates in the meter or the panel you are not allowed to pull that meter only license electricians are allowed to do that. But somewhere out there is your problem. Call your local power company and have them come out to check their wires on top of the meter and they will do that free of charge but the top of that meter is where they stop and the rest is your responsibility
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You need to go where your meter is, they should be one # 6 bare wire it should be around 1/8 inch in diameter that is the most important wire you have for safety. Some people have a meter with a panel outside and some people just have meters and the panel is in the house. Check that wire and make sure it’s not loose from the ground rods. The other end of that wire terminates in the meter or the panel you are not allowed to pull that meter only license electricians are allowed to do that. But somewhere out there is your problem. Call your local power company and have them come out to check their wires on top of the meter and they will do that free of charge but the top of that meter is where they stop and the rest is your responsibility
I’ve seen where the power company has their problems. If your house is supplied from a transformer and other homes are to talk to them and see if their having problems. If just 3 wires are coming from the transformer you are the only one
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You need to go where your meter is, they should be one # 6 bare wire it should be around 1/8 inch in diameter that is the most important wire you have for safety. Some people have a meter with a panel outside and some people just have meters and the panel is in the house. Check that wire and make sure it’s not loose from the ground rods. The other end of that wire terminates in the meter or the panel you are not allowed to pull that meter only license electricians are allowed to do that. But somewhere out there is your problem. Call your local power company and have them come out to check their wires on top of the meter and they will do that free of charge but the top of that meter is where they stop and the rest is your responsibility
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I’ve seen where the power company has their problems. If your house is supplied from a transformer and other homes are to talk to them and see if their having problems. If just 3 wires are coming from the transformer you are the only one
Your power could be underground also
 
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located the wire. had a bunch of ants climing it to the house. flicked them off and gave the wire a tug. seemed to be a little loose coming out of the ground. should i dig down a bit and try to tighten the connection? i hired new landscapers recently and i think they may be hitting it with thei weed eater. if i call peco (electric company) it might be quite a while before they show up. i had a tree branch down on july 4th and they just took care of it last week.
 

Megawatt

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Arms
located the wire. had a bunch of ants climing it to the house. flicked them off and gave the wire a tug. seemed to be a little loose coming out of the ground. should i dig down a bit and try to tighten the connection? i hired new landscapers recently and i think they may be hitting it with thei weed eater. if i call peco (electric company) it might be quite a while before they show up. i had a tree branch down on july 4th and they just took care of it last week.
Yes dig down and make sure that wire is hooked up and tight, let me know when and good luck
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Yes dig down and make sure that wire is hooked up and tight, let me know when and good luck
Call your power company if you can’t fix it they have people working 24/7 for problems just like this and they will show up today
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #11
alright, after much more digging than i expected the wire seems to be tight. there was a large amount of rust covering it. should i remove the attachment and try to clean it a little then reattach?
 

Megawatt

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Arms
alright, after much more digging than i expected the wire seems to be tight. there was a large amount of rust covering it. should i remove the attachment and try to clean it a little then reattach?
Before you do it turn off your main breaker off or unplug all you appliances, tv, and everything thing else better off turn off the 200 amp main. When you take that wire loose you can put 180vac on your outlets so clean it real good.
 
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  • #13
i went out and loosed it and gave it a half assed clean. then tightened it real good. still same issue. called peco. said they are sending someone out. should i take a wire brush to it in the mean time?
 

Megawatt

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Arms
i went out and loosed it and gave it a half assed clean. then tightened it real good. still same issue. called peco. said they are sending someone out. should i take a wire brush to it in the mean time?
When I deal with corrosion I have a steel brush
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #15
so, is there anything else i can check? or do i just sit and wait for the electric company?
 

Megawatt

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Arms
so, is there anything else i can check? or do i just sit and wait for the electric company?
I’m sorry I couldn’t help you but I still believe maybe in the panel but you don’t have continuity some where to earth it can’t be that hard to find if only I was there we would get it fixed. If the power company has an answer let me know good luck
 
  • Thread Starter Thread Starter
  • #21
thanks to all who helped. the chilly ac feels great after those 5 or so sweaty hours.
 

Lucien Nunes

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Mentor
Arms
Esteemed
This suggestion that there is a break in the ground rod connection puzzles me a lot. An open-circuit or high-resistance neutral on a polyphase or split-phase supply can result in both increased and decreased voltages at single-phase loads since the symmetry is lost. But if the symmetry is so poor that a 120V outlet receives 180V when the local ground rod is disconnected, the rod must be carrying a significant part of the neutral current and the neutral / MEN / CNE conductor must already be broken or high resistance somewhere upstream.

In the UK this would be considered a highly dangerous situatiion, where we would advise the customer to switch off and wait for the power company to fix the problem on their side. They would attend immediately and have been known to dig up the road there and then, because of the severity of the danger. Is this not the case in the USA? Would they consider it acceptable to rely on the customer's ground rod to hold the ground and neutral from drifting more than 50V away from where it should be?

Of course, if the neutral and ground are not linked in the consumer's installation, there is no relationship between the outlet voltage and the ground rod connection, so I am assuming Megawatt inferred that in this case the two are connected.
 

Megawatt

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Arms
This suggestion that there is a break in the ground rod connection puzzles me a lot. An open-circuit or high-resistance neutral on a polyphase or split-phase supply can result in both increased and decreased voltages at single-phase loads since the symmetry is lost. But if the symmetry is so poor that a 120V outlet receives 180V when the local ground rod is disconnected, the rod must be carrying a significant part of the neutral current and the neutral / MEN / CNE conductor must already be broken or high resistance somewhere upstream.

In the UK this would be considered a highly dangerous situatiion, where we would advise the customer to switch off and wait for the power company to fix the problem on their side. They would attend immediately and have been known to dig up the road there and then, because of the severity of the danger. Is this not the case in the USA? Would they consider it acceptable to rely on the customer's ground rod to hold the ground and neutral from drifting more than 50V away from where it should be?

Of course, if the neutral and ground are not linked in the consumer's installation, there is no relationship between the outlet voltage and the ground rod connection, so I am assuming Megawatt inferred that in this case the two are connected.
Yes the power company would dig up what ever they had to since the problem was on their side not the customers side and they found that 2 crimp lugs where the power company attaches was loose and one of the bad crimp lugs was actually the grounded conductor. That house was built 9 years so it didn’t have but one ground rod. In 2003 the NEC changed to have to install 2 rods. Yes that is with out a doubt that is the most important wire, just like the UK earthing is so important
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Yes the power company would dig up what ever they had to since the problem was on their side not the customers side and they found that 2 crimp lugs where the power company attaches was loose and one of the bad crimp lugs was actually the grounded conductor. That house was built 9 years so it didn’t have but one ground rod. In 2003 the NEC changed to have to install 2 rods. Yes that is with out a doubt that is the most important wire, just like the UK earthing is so important
You talk about in the UK this situation is highly dangerous, yes it is that’s why I worked with him for hours to get his problem fixed.
 
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Lucien Nunes

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Mentor
Arms
Esteemed
But my question is about what you said about the ground rod connection being bad. If he had found the rod disconnected, reconnected it and then the problem disappeared, there would still have been a dangerous situation because the supply should not rely on the ground rod to provide a neutral. Therefore as I see it, the only correct course of action is to switch off the main switch and call the PoCo. Any tinkering with the rod could be dangerous, or at best disguise the broken PoCo neutral.
 

Megawatt

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Arms
But my question is about what you said about the ground rod connection being bad. If he had found the rod disconnected, reconnected it and then the problem disappeared, there would still have been a dangerous situation because the supply should not rely on the ground rod to provide a neutral. Therefore as I see it, the only correct course of action is to switch off the main switch and call the PoCo. Any tinkering with the rod could be dangerous, or at best disguise the broken PoCo neutral.
Lucien I repeatability told him to call the power as far as he said he was going to take it loose I told him I think twice to turn off his 200 amp breaker so when it was took loose it would not be no danger. I’m sorry I didn’t mean no harm
 
@Megawatt there is no need to keep apologising Lucien is not criticising you he is just trying to understand the OPs situation.
 
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