House tearing up power supplies. Possible bad wiring?


Lately my gf's moms house has been tearing up power supplies. They had a laptop power source go bad, and then 2 more after that. Its weird that all these could go bad at the same time. I also found out that they have a guy doing some work around the house. I'm wondering if he did something to mess up the wiring as most his other work was very poorly done. The place is out of town so I don't have access at the moment but wondering if you had any ideas on what could possibly be going on?
thanks
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If there is an electrical situation that is causing power supplies to fail, it would most likely be affecting other things as well. She could have high or low voltage conditions, but I'd think that they'd be noticeable in dim or bright lights. I would suggest having someone test the service and grounding to the building
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Voltage spikes ( mainly caused by lightning ) is what comes to mind. Have them get a power-bar with surge suppression and see if it helps.
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Spork wrote:

Maybe a loose neutral (grounded conductor) between the meter and the house? Or possibly the same thing between the power company's transformer and meter? Either could cause the voltage to be unbalanced enough cause problems. You'd have maybe 150 volts on one line and 90 on the other instead of 120 on each. It would probably be noticeable though on other things as RBM said.
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thank you everyone for the help. I will take your suggestions and look into it.
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On 7/4/2010 8:55 PM Spork spake thus:

One thing you can *very* easily do yourself that doesn't require an EE degree or an electrician's license is to simply measure the line voltage at your outlets. All you need is any multimeter, like the commonly available DMMs (digital multimeters). Make sure it's set to a high-enough AC voltage range (typically they have a 200 volt and a 750 volt range, so select the higher one), and push the tips of the probes into the outlet. You should get somewhere pretty close to 120 volts. Anything more than, say, 15% out of range is cause for concern and may indicate that something is miswired. (If you have access to an "old school" analog meter, that's even better, as the digital meters can be susceptible to "phantom" readings.)
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Have they seen lights get brighter or flicker, then call the power co. if it affects supplies everything else could be suffering from stress. Have there been storms or power interuptions. Good quality surge suppressors should be used on everything they care about. Its probably not a worker but should be looked into, the power co is free, they know what to look for and usualy come out quickly. Once I had my incomming lines loose and it was cutting out power, wires on the main panel could be loose, a bad pole transformer are things the power co will check for free.
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Assuming this in North America somewhere? Look for broken/bad neutrals and or if the amateur doesn't know what he is doing he may have mixed up and/or connected ground and neutrals together thinking (incorrectly) they are the same. Or sloppy/poor connections when something wasl altered repaired or extended. Because if a neutral is open one can with North American 120 - 0 - 120 standard wiring get 240 volts across something designed for 120 etc.
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Check the voltage coming into the house. I had a light bulb problem and found I was getting 135 volts in the early morning. The rest of the day was OK, but the power company was goosing the voltage too much when industry was starting up.
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