unstable, fluctuating house current?

Page 2 of 2  


If you insist. Of course, you still have to keep the meter in view and have enough light to read it. The Wiggy buzzes and vibrates when energized. After a little experience, one doesn't need to look at the thing to see what it's reading.
Right tool for the job and all that. I can cut down a tree with a coping saw but with a chainsaw close at hand, why? Wiggys are cheap and really are the right tool for the job of troubleshooting power electrics.
John
--
John De Armond
See my website for my current email address
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I did. I googled solenoid meter and solenoid meter wiggy. I forget the details but didn't find anything relevant, except when I looked up solenoid in the dictionary, apparently it means any coil, not just one with a moving metal plunger. No one I know uses the word that way, but I figured the OP might.
Also, why would you need a solenoid meter such as you describe, when it seems to me any low impedance meter would work?
Are you saying it has to have lower impedance than a classic simpson VOM for example, or any meter made in the 60's and earlier? IIRC they are 30,000 or 50,000 ohms per volt.
That would be surprising to me, and the lower the imdedance the more the circuit is affected by the meter.

Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let me know if you have posted also.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
wrote:

The first hit on "wiggy voltage tester" was to Home Depot ($19.95) The second was to Square D's site:
http://www.squared.com/us/products/machine_safety.nsf/unid/58870E11543C976885256D500050927B /$file/wiggy.htm

Several reasons, in no particular order. It's cheap enough to have one everywhere, even leaving them inside machine cabinets.
It indicates if the voltage is AC or DC - quite important when a cabinet has mixed voltages. It's a real pisser to tie into a 250VDC bus because your meter set to AC reads zero.
It draws enough current to burn through corroded and otherwise bad connections while not being affected by coupled potentials, ground loops and so on.
It covers the full range from about 50 volts to 600 without range switching. No digital nor analog instrument does that, at least without range switching which takes time. There is at least a little response on 24vdc. I can walk down a terminal strip in a cabinet looking for the line voltage without worrying about high voltage DC or even higher voltage AC affecting my meter.
I don't have to look at the thing. I can feel and hear its operation. I can even slip it in my shirt pocket and still feel it operate.
The Wiggy is totally unaffected by RF. Try using a DVM (except maybe a high end Fluke) inside a large transmitter or around an induction furnace. Even the venerable old Simpson sometimes acts up when the meter protection diodes pick up enough RF.
I could probably think of a few more benefits but that's enough for now.

Yep. I can't seem to find a spec on the thing but I'd guess that it draws at least a half amp on 120vac. Almost all reactive power, of course, so no significant wattage involved. I know that the prods draw a pretty significant spark on 480vac.

When diagnosing power circuits, that's exactly what you want. I don't want a DVM or even a Simpson 260 sitting there reading leakage current through the blown fuse. And I don't want to be chasing my *ss trying to find out why the circuit is still "hot" despite having opened the breaker because my meter is reading stray current coupled into the conductor from others in the conduit. This is a special problem when there are lots of variable speed drives about with their high harmonics.
Of course, the opposite holds too. A Wiggy is like a bull in the china shop inside an instrument cabinet. I can think of more than one nuclear plant trip caused by a spark-trician poking his Wiggy where it didn't belong. We actually banned Wiggys from the instrument rooms at the Sequoyah NP.
Like I said, the right tool for the right job.
BTW, something I'd forgotten until Google reminded me of it. "Wiggy" is the abbreviated name for the inventor of the thing. "Wiggingham Voltage Tester" is the formal name.
John
--
John De Armond
See my website for my current email address
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
If you want to learn about a wiggy, look under its' true name... Wiggington.
Once you have diagnosed a case of "open neutral", it will stick with you. It can be very hard on equipment both from under voltage on one leg, and over voltage on the opposite leg.
George Willer

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

You've got a potentially serious electrical problem. Right now, it's *RELATIVELY* minor, but if it's what I think it is, it can quickly go from minor to catastrophic, and do so with little or no warning. Sounds to me like your neutral is "floating". If you're not up to dealing with electricity (Sounds like you've at least got a clue), now's the time to call in somebody who is - PRONTO. As in "before it starts eating electronics, or worse, burns the house down."
Assuming my diagnosis based on your symptoms is correct, you need your neutral line tied together solid from end to end. Could be as simple as twisting a screw in the breaker box, or might need new wiring run - No way to be certain from this vantage point. Whether you take care of it yourself, or call in someone to do it, it's something that needs to happen ASAP if you don't want to come home to discover you're the proud owner of a brand new computer, complete with blown motherboard, or even worse, a smoldering pile of rubble.
--
Don Bruder - snipped-for-privacy@sonic.net - If your "From:" address isn\'t on my whitelist,
or the subject of the message doesn\'t contain the exact text "PopperAndShadow"
  Click to see the full signature.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

It is a loose neutral connection at the transformer. Call the utility company and report the problem of "open neutral" at the transformer, with voltage fluctuations affection both you and your neighbor.
The possibility of it being your problem is negated by it affecting your neighbor.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
snipped-for-privacy@afn.org (David Fraleigh) says...

Bad neutral. It's a dangerous condition. Fix it.
--
http://home.teleport.com/~larryc

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
(David Fraleigh) says...

Larry may very well be correct. Have you checked any of your neighbor's voltage though? I had a problem with fluctuating voltage in the morning, hitting 135. Power company had a problem at a sub station.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Ask your neighbor to meter his voltage. That should tell you more. There could be a bad transformer or a loose neutral at the pole.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
David Fraleigh wrote:

I had the same problem at my house but didn't now it. I thought I had a bad washing machine because it would not spin dry. The cable TV service would also go fuzzy. I was checking the cable and learned that when I tightened the cable connection near the entrance to the house it would clear the cable picture, and finally once when I went out to tighten the cable connection it was warm to the touch, bingo! I called the electric company, they came right out didn't see much wrong but redid the service connections and that fixed it, the washing machine worked properly also. It was a bad neutral connection, barely noticeable, made just a spot on one of the bale connections. My house has a grounding rod, but I'd built a carport and it covered the area where the grounding rod is and the ground had dried out enough that it no longer provided enough ground. The TV cable had become the main neutral/ground path, and not a very good one.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
My friend had symptoms similar to yours. Turned out it was a "floating" neutral, the neutral wire down the mast and into the meter was loose on the "house" side connector of the hydro meter.Of course Hydro at first said nothing was wrong, but my buddy is a pretty smart guy and had to hire an electrician to pull the meter, they found the lug loose, hydro still wouldn't pay up but his fluctuating voltages and flickering lites were now cured. He first confirmed this by lugging a wire at the neutral, where it went into the mast (the big bare cable) and ran it directly to the neutral in his fuse panel, this cured the problem so he knew there was a problem from the mast to the panel. This may or may not be your problem but it was his.
David Fraleigh wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
i referred your information to an employee i know at a nearby power company who says just call your utility company and they'll come out.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I hope they don't send a dumba$$ like my power company did. I had reported an open neutral and this jerk condemned my underground service (350 CCM copper) without even checking the transformer connections. He was arranging for a temporary feed laying on the ground until I could dig a new trench for the new service. A call to his supervisor finally convinced him to climb the pole. Yep! He found the problem... loose neutral, as I had already reported.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.