I recently completely re-wired a small house. All new wire, outlets,
switches, breaker box & breakers and most of the light fixtures. Everything
worked fine when I was done about a month ago. Today, I noticed that the
furnace wasn't running. Also discoverd that neither the frig or the washing
machine would run (anything with a 110 V motor). The deep well pump runs
fine (220V) and for some reason, so will a small canister vacum but when I
start that, the kitchen light gets brighter (different circuit too).
I started checking voltages at the main breaker box and found a hugh
difference in voltage between the two legs, like 155 / 85. It doesn't seem
to matter how many circuits are turned on . I turned off everything except
for a single circuit that powers 2 - 100W. light bulbs and the same result.
I suspected a loosed feed wire in the main box but didn't find anything. I
am at a loss on this one. Please help if you can.
Somewhere there is a loose or unhooked neutral wire. It could be at the
main box or the wires comming in from the power company.
Pull the main braker and check on the power company side of it to see if you
are getting 120 volts on each side of the neutral and hot wires. If not
then call the power company and have them check the incomming wires.
Darn. I've been around for a few years and have never come
across that kind of problem. What are the voltages on each
side of the main? What is the incoming voltages with the
main flipped off? What are the voltages to both neutral and
to a ground? If they're still weird, I wonder if the power
company might have a bad transformer up on a pole, or if one
of your neighbors decided to do some creative wiring of some
kind on the same transformer.
Please, follow up to this with your explorations and the
eventual solution. In the meantime, you're sure right to
keep everything cut off.
This is a potentially dangerous situation, so I wouldn't waste any time
repairing it. At your service, your neutral and house ground should be tied
together. If you are not reading 120 volt to ground from each hot leg at
that location, you have an open neutral on the street side of your panel,
possibly at the utility company transformer or in the meter box
Definitely sounds like a loose neutral. This is dangerous because in
combination with other failures it can potentially leave you with a live
ground. Also I believe it can give you strange voltages on your 120v
circuits, higher or lower than it should be.
This newsgroup has sufficiently frightened me of this situation. I would
fix it now.
"Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor man\'s
You have an open neutral. Most likely on the power company's side of the
meter. Do you have underground service? I had this exact same problem and
they found the neutral completely corroded in half where it had been nicked
by the backhoe, about 2 feet from the water meter. Took me forever (about
36 hours) to convince them it was a problem on their side. The first thing
they did is pull the meter and of course, when they did that, the voltages
were equal (no load). I had already had an electrician friend tell me what
the problem was. I also had current on the ground, that is what tipped him
off. After having several calls to the power company, a supervisor just
happened to be listening in when one of the crew reported the finding on the
radio and he said "that sounds like an open neutral" . Well no shit dick
tracy... One TV and one VCR later (the power company bought) and a new
splice on the neutral and everything's been fine for 15 years now.
"Bruce" < email@example.com> wrote in message
You have an open neutral. This is a potential fire hazard, not to mention
the probable failure of many of your appliances. It needs to be corrected
immediately. If the imbalance is at the main panel, then the problem is
likely the utility's. They generally respond immediately to this type of
If you installed the main service panel, did you torque the lugs for the
main feeds to manufacturer's specs? If using aluminum main wire, did you use
that aluminum wire goop?
Have electric company come out and re-torque your main lugs. If you did not
apply aluminum wire goop, have electric company do this, might want to have
a tube handy.
Note: On the panel printed spec sticker, it will give the torque specs...
Warning! Don't do this yourself!
"Bruce" wrote in message
Thank you all for your replies.
The house is currently empty so there is no danger to anyone. The only
circuit I need is for the 220V water pump and that appears to be working
fine. One little bit of information I left out is that the main service
comes into a fused disconnect before it goes to the breaker box. That is
how I was able to replace everything without having the power shut off. I
intend to replace the short alum. feed between the disconnect and the
breaker box with some #2 copper that I have just to rule out this section as
being the problem. If that doesn't fix it, then a call to the power company
will be made.
I will post the results as soon as I get it fixed.
The problem was indeed an open neutral.
After some testing with an electrican, we found that the problem was with
the #2 feeder wire running from the meter to the inside box. We slit the
outer casing near the meter and water ran out of the cable.
Thank you all for your help.
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