unstable, fluctuating house current?

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My house has been plagued by dimming lights for quite a while and finally yesterday I decided to explore the situation and came up with some results that have me stymied. I put a voltmeter into the various outlets throughout the house and saw that the voltage would read at 118v for a while and then would suddenly shift to reading 127v. When this happened the lights in the room would either brighten or dim. This would alternate every few minutes.. I then went to my breaker panel and shut off my main breaker and checked the voltage situation on the lead in wires and saw that it was a steady 240 between tge two lead-ins but that the same instability occured between the individual leads and the ground/neutral.. (It would be 118 to ground and then shift to being 127 to ground every few minutes with the other wire reading the opposite at the same time). I went to a neighbor who comes off of the same transformer and asked him if he had the same light dimming problems and he said he hadn't noticed it but he said that his light bulbs were always burning out after just a short while... Anyway I am assuming that the problem is with the utility transformer but just wanted to know if this fluctuating current is typical of a bad transformer or could my ground connection possibly be causing this to happen... Thanks for your help. David
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Call your REC. They will check it out. I had the same problem several years ago. Turned out to be a loose connection behind the meter.
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David Fraleigh wrote:

That sounds like a floating ground. It may well be in your home. Do you, by chance, have aluminum wires? If you have aluminum wire, it is likely your neighbor also does. You don't need aluminum wire to cause the problem, but it is often the problem. I suggest you consider this possibility first. Next step would be to contact the utility company.
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Dia duit
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and your neighbor's voltage is______?
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This is usually an intermittent neutral problem. When the voltage goes up on one side of the line, the voltage dips on the other. The voltage changes as loads vary if the neutral is disconnected, high resistance or intermittent and can't carry the neutral current.
You can check this with two meters. Connect one meter to one side of the incoming power and neutral and the other meter to the other incoming line and neutral. Then turn on and off 120 volt loads around the house, the larger the better. If one meter goes up and the other goes down, then the neutral is bad somewhere.
You need to get this checked right away, as when the neutral finally opens up completely, destructively high voltage will appear on the lightly loaded side of the box. Poofed appliances and even fire is possible.
The problem is usually with the utility equipment so I'd place an immediate call to the utility and report the problem. Utilities tend to jump on these kinds of problems quickly because of the potential liability. If their bad hardware causes a fire, especially after it's been reported, they get to pay. I bet they'll have someone out within an hour or two of you calling it in.
John, retired utility dude

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you probably have have a bad connection on the ground (nuetral) wire. ive seen it many times. i bet your getting shocked quite a bit to touching metal things in your house too. usually the electric company will disgnose and fix that for you. lucas
http://www.minibite.com/america/malone.htm
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David Fraleigh wrote:

Sounds like the neutral (not ground) between the the utility companay transformer and your breaker panel has a poor connection. Check it at your panel and if that's ok if it is call the power company to check at their transformer. The fluctuations come when the load within your house isn't equal on the two 120 volt phases. That's likely to happen when a load changes, such as your refrigerator turning on and off automatically. This needs to be fixed immediately as devices on the more lightly loaded side can by damaged by the overvoltage.
Your tests were good. Without knowing the 240 was stable at entrance panel there would be other possibilities. I'd repeat the tests at the te breaker panel and confirm with the voltmeter that phase A to neutral plus phase B to neutural voltage is approximately equal in magnitude to phase A to phase B voltage withing two volts and that Phase A to Ground minus phase B to ground is larger than about 2 volts. If that's true it confirmes the above suspicion of a loose or open neutral. By code both the neutral at your entrance and the neutral at the transformer are grounded, but if there's not a good metallic conductor (the third wire) between them any current unbalaance will show up as a difference in phase voltages. Earth grounds usually have several ohms of resistance, possibly a lot more depending on soil conditions.
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I'll vote along with Neon John based on the information you have provided. The problem could be on either side of the meter. (Yours or the utility company.) One thing that is almost necessary to isolate this problem is a solenoid operated voltmeter (Wiggy). The high impedance of a conventional VOM (analog or digital) can really lead you down the wrong path.
Bob
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Don't play with high voltage unless you have an ugly wife or a leprotic dick.
Call an electrician
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snipped-for-privacy@exemail.com.au (crmay) says...

Fortunately, there are no high voltages in house wiring.
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Larry Caldwell wrote:

Everything's relative. They're high enough.
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(crmay) says... : > Don't play with high voltage unless you have an ugly wife or a leprotic : > dick. : : Fortunately, there are no high voltages in house wiring. : : -- : http://home.teleport.com/~larryc
And unfortunately some "leprotic" dicks in this group.
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Maybe not relatively speaking, but 120 is more than plenty to punch your clock permanently...
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wrote:

I'm pretty sure most people have never heard them called solenoid operated voltmeters. .If you want people to understand, I'd either explain what I meant, or call them mechanical voltmeters, (or electromechanical, or wire coil, or moving needle VOMs)
What is Wiggy?

Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
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wrote:

"Solenoid meter" is the only thing I've ever heard it called besides a Wiggy. Wiggy is (I think) Square D's brand name for a solenoid meter.
A solenoid meter does not have a needle. It has a plunger that gets sucked into a solenoid, the depth of which depends on the voltage. A real Wiggy also has a polarity indicating magnet on top. Some other brands have neon bulbs mounted on the plunger to aid in seeing it. It is a low impedance device that does not respond to leakage current.
Instead of sowing confusion, why not google it?
John
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Neon John wrote:

Then you ought to be able to use a digital voltmeter with an appropriate (high resistance -- not like one for a current meter) shunt to achieve the same result.
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snip

You'd think so, but it isn't true. Digital meters are fine for accurate measurement of a stable voltage but lousy for fluctuations where you can get an inkling of what's happening with an analog meter, wiggie or otherwise, but not with a digital readout. The way things are, analog meters will remain useful for the foreseeable future. I have both digital and analog meters. I usually prefer using the analog meter.
Watch someone come along and suggest using an oscilloscope for this problem.
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Sheldon Harper wrote:

do you remember LPs, music on vinyl? they were the means for storage of an analog representation of sound on a media capable of containing the entire full linear spectrum of a line.

with the correct components comprising the system: i.e. pre amp, amp, turntable and speakers music sure did sound much better back then. a fuller more complete sound with harmonics.
with analog to digital conversions, line sampling by picking points on the line in order to reproduce the analog signal in a digital format leaves a lot of information out of the reconstructed information stream. all has to do with mathematically speaking of how a line is actually an infinite series of points with there always being a point in-between any two picked points that is being left out.
CD - half the music and dog gone near twice the price. if the industry had said, CDs for people who can not hear well and vinyl will still be pressed for those who can hear, but we're going to charge twice the price for vinyl, I'd paid it. oh well, that did not work out.
reminds me of how industry sold everyone VCR machines and then made those obsolete by moving the format to DVD machines. one thing is for sure and that's how getting caught up in materialism leads one to chase and spend money in pursuit of satisfaction that just can't quite seem to be retained.
thank you God for setting me free of satan and his thievery.
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Sheldon Harper wrote:

What on earth for?
The problem plainly requires a time domain reflectometer and and a radar dish.
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Oh no!!!!! I forgot about the dish!!!!!!
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