Power surges

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Hello. It's possible I can't give enough information here for a diffinitive answer, but I'm asking anyway. My lights and other electrical appliances have recently been experiencing surges of power; lights go brighter, refridgerator goes louder, etc. I'm afraid this is going to damage something, or cause a fire. I've called the power company and their annoying automated messages state that flickering lights (etc) are usually caused by interier wiring, yet others I've spoken to say that nothing can cause EXTRA power to be supplied to the affected appliances, diminished yes, extra (surges) no. It also doesn't effect one or two circuits, either, but pretty much the whole house. Should I contact an electrician, or have the power company come out and inspect? They say they'll charge me $80 for the visit if the problem isn't in their wiring, and they might not be able to resolve it for that price.
--
Cheryl

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Cheryl wrote:

I have no difinitive answers, and am not an electrician by any means, however many years back I had an experience that also made no sense like getting power to circuits that were clearly turned off. The problem in our case was a new concrete footing settled onto the power line coming into the house and caused a short between the different phases of the line. So turning on a switch on one circuit caused appliances in another circuit to turn on!
Another possibility is that your appliances are actually continually running at low power and the "surges" you are experiencing are actually the appliances returning to normal.
As for how to decide if you want the power company to comeout or an electrician, check your neighbors and see if they are having the same problem. If they are all having the same problem, have the power company come out. If it is just your house (and there is no obvious damage to the wiring just outside your house) and electrician is probably the right answer.
RBV
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In the fine newsgroup "alt.home.repair", RBV
Thank you. I'll check with the neighbors as you suggest. Yours sounds like a strange problem! Glad you got it worked out. If I may ask, who ended up being at "fault" for that and had to pay? I can sort of see it going either way, unless the wiring wasn't marked properly when the new footing was put in, or something. Even then... hhmmm...

Ya know, I thought this a few times. If this is the case, I like it better when the "surge" occurs. My kitchen has better lighting during those. Tonight is really bad which is prompting my query. It doesn't happen like this often which could possibly make it harder to diagnose? Tonight is making me want to turn off all electrical appliances.
--
Cheryl
/on battery powered laptop
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Cheryl wrote:

I think the power company said something like "The footing should not have been put here... " but paid for a new line anyway.
RBV
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this isnt entirely true. although the types of things that need to happen to cause this situation are rare, they do exist.

it seems to me the first thing to do is talk with the neighbors. take a look at the wire where it connects up on the pole and find the people connected to the same line as you, as close to you as possible. if you're the only one, its probably your wiring. probably somewhere between the panel in the house and the line coming into the house.
randy
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In the fine newsgroup "alt.home.repair", "xrongor"
< on 02 Jun 2004:

Thank you. I'll do this!
--
Cheryl

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Don't discount the power company either. We found, in our area, that we were experiencing "meter jumping" which was power surges that made the meters spin like a whirling dervish for a few seconds!! Sure, it made for some higher power bills too.
Come to find out, the power company will "surge" the lines as those quick surges will help burn off small branches that may be laying across wires. It's a dirty trick, but they do it.
on 02 Jun 2004:

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Lost-In-Translation wrote:

Sounds like an urban legend to me. Power surges will stress the line itself; at the right level it will heat up and stretch. A stretched power line is more dangerous.
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Dan Hartung wrote:

I don't think it is a legend, that means several people believe it and nobody that knows anything about utilities would believe this. Any power company that did this would quickly go out of business from lawsuits.
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Its complete and utter nonsense--the first clue is to consider what kind of switchgear would need to be intalled on the utilities lines in order to accomplish such a thing......
--

SVL




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We had to replace several small things like DVDs and VCRs after one particular very brief (like momentary) power outage and the subsequent surge. I am in FL where this happens often. Now all my small stuff and computers are on surge suppressers. I checked with power company and they recommend whole house surge suppressers and they will install - but the costs is very high.
One of my neighbors is an electrician for county and he said he has a whole house ss but had someone (private co) install it and it was cheaper.
It is a neighborhood problem around here.
Dorothy
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Have you ever noticed in FL that right after major surge "problems" seem to damage all kinds of items in your home . . . next thing you know within a few days you are getting a mailing from FPL offering to sell you their "surge protection" insurance?
It's just an oddity that every time we have those problems around here, those mailers show up. But, I'm sure it has nothing to do with the power monopoly.

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True, it can really be a problem, esp in the lightning areas like FL. Whole house protection is good, but, and this is opinion, so you'll find many different opinions on this, even with whole house protection, OR instead of, which is how I think, it is still necessary to have specific protection on sensitive electronic components such as computers, computerized sewing machines, etc. In general, if you can afford the whole house protection, then all you need is the cheapie suppressors, like Walmart etc. sell, at each device. If you don't have whole house protection, however, then you should have something much more reliable and capable of taking a strong hit. There isn't much of anything that will save you from a direct lightning hit to power lines outside your home, but that isn't a very usual occurrence. It's hard to describe how "good" a protector should be, but in general, one wants a 3-way protection, and the higher the number of "joules" the suppressor can handle, the better the protection. Some of the good ones even offer equipment replacement if their products fail to protect you, but ... like I said, nothing is going to protect against a direct lightning hit. Google for "surge protection" +computer (use the quotes) and you can get lots of info on it and some are good for the layman to read and figure out how they work.
Pop
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The most expensive protection is a plug-in protector - on the order of tens of times more money per protected appliance. Effective whole house protector costs about $1 per protected appliance. Even worse, get plug-in protector specs. They don't even claim to protect from the type of surge that typically damages electronics. They claim to protect from a type of surge that typically does not exist.
A big difference exists between the shysters who recommend plug-in protectors and those who make recommendations based upon engineering. The latter provide extensive facts AND - a most important characteristic - the numbers. Junk scientists and myth purveyors don't provide useful numbers nor cite electrical concepts. Fundamental - the plug-in protectors are obviously not effective due to no 'less than 10 foot' connection to earth ground. Protection is about earthing.
Unfortunately, others let science (such as elementary school science) go over their heads. Those others, instead, look to how the presentation is made rather than delve into facts. An environment rich and profitable for myth purveyors. Posted elsewhere are facts posted with numbers. How to identify ineffective protectors: 1) no dedicated connection to earth ground and 2) avoids all discussion about earthing.
Wasting tens of times more money on plug-in protectors that are also undersized? Or install protection as it was installed before WWII so that direct lightning strikes do not damage electronics. Learn from myths that promote plug-in protectors, OR learn from science first demonstrated by Franklin in 1752 and demonstrated by the 25 direct strikes every year to FM and TV equipment atop the Empire State Building. The latter demonstrates why 'whole house' protectors are so effective.
Ask one who recommends plug-in protectors what those protectors actually do. Why? They must avoid answering this question to recommend plug-in protectors. Effective protection is defined by earth ground - not by the protector. A surge protector is only as effective as its earth ground which is why 'whole house' protectors are so effective AND why plug-in protectors, instead, avoid the earthing discussion.
Protectors, of course, is beyond the scope of the thread. Extensive discussions about effective protection have been posted elsewhere.
Pop Rivet wrote:

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George E. Cawthon wrote:

I am just smiling. Over the years(~30 years or so) I have seen many sags but surge? Very seldom. I used to monitor power line a lot with monitor. Tony
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that "surge", for these folk, means any voltage outside operating range, wether it's lightning, crossed wires, power bounces when a line goes down, switching grids, etc.. Not too unusual, really.
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I really wish it were, but in South Florida, where FPL has a monopolistic choke hold on millions of customers - it's exactly what they do and they admitted it on a local news story as a "necessary maintenance proceedure" and that the "average" customer would only experience "pennies" added to their power bills to accomplish this. They just didn't say how many "pennies" over time, 5? 10? 100? 1,000,000,000? Who knows.
I've actually seen branches laying across utility lines in my neighborhood area, many lay they for a very long time then, for some reason, they start to burn and break off.
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"Lost-In-Translation"

concerning the "surging" to burn stuff off the lines.
Second, you're purely guessing, IFF you really saw it, about the reason/s for branches starting to burn. Personally, I doubt you have seen that. Sorry. You'd eventually flash into flame too with that much amperage available to you. Pop
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which the power company admitted to power surging to burn off tree branches. And yes, I've seen it, it is really quite common, especially around here where one in three trees is in the power lines.
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"Lost-In-Translation"

that's now what "meter jumping" is, the power companies will not "surge" the line to burn off anything, let alone branches, and lastly surges, by definition cannot make the meters spin as you say and they do not add to the power bills. You've been listen ing to someone who's probably laughing at the people who believe that stuff.
On another vein, it is indeed possible to momentarily increase the voltage on one phase of the wiring coming into the house. But, that said, I'm not going into specifics because it isn't necessary for the OP and I doubt you would understand. The OP may have a wiring problem, it could be inside the house, and that's the place to start unless something points to outdoors or a faulty outdoor transformer (not likely; they don't fail that way). A good insptector will be able to tell quickly, probably by observation, actually, whether it's an in or out side problem and the magn itude of the problem.
Please don't spread misinformation.
Pop
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