Here in the last week and a half we have been having strange things
going on with our electricity. The lights dim and flicker. When we
try to turn on the microwave the lights will dim (& sometimes brighten
instead) and the microwave power drops low. When we use the vaccum
the lights will brighten. We usually have to turn off all the lights
in the house just to use the microwave. Other appliances don't seem
to be affected but I am guessing they are and we just can't tell like
we can with the microwave.
We have had the power company come out and he checked the voltage ?
coming into the house with the microwave off and with it on. They say
it is normal and probably something with the wiring inside. We called
an electrician and he came over and turned on the microwave and said
yes that something was wrong but he couldn't say what until he started
digging around. We're short on cash at the moment so we told him we'd
What is bugging us is this (which may mean nothing): we have made no
changes to the load or appliances etc., it has been working fine the
past two days but just started up again, and our neighbor who we share
the pole with started working on some wood projects in his garage
about the same time all this started. Could the neighbor somehow be
causing this? The only thing I am not sure of on that is that this
all also happens in the morning when he not working on anything.
Any insight or ideas would greatly help!
CHECK THE NEUTRAL...
I doubt it is your neighbor. I suspect that you have lost a neutral at
the pole and this actually is the power company's problem.
The only thing I could think that would cause this that wouldn't be the
power company's problem is if something inside your breaker panel has
fallen apart and the neutral is no longer connected to the outside
Don't sleep on this too long, if you manage to cause a really unbalanced
load while the neutral is disconnected, you can fry a whole mess of
stuff in your house.
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
Whatever money you save on the electrician you will wind up spending to
repair or replace your appliances.
You could have loose connections in the meter, at the service mast, at the
pole, or in your main panel. You could also have a bad main circuit
breaker. Your neutral connections should also be checked at all points
previously mentioned. Did the power company check the connections at the
transformer? Just because the voltage is correct does not mean that their
equipment and service feed is in good condition. While your at it check
your grounding electrode conductor connections.
My guess is a faulty neutral connection somewhere. If so this is not a
healthy condition for humans as well as appliances.
Once had a problem with a loose crimp splice on a the drop line from the
pole. It was OK most of the time. When the wind blew a certain way, the
wire would swing and the splice would cut in and out, causing symptoms like
Almost certainly an Open Neutral.
Depending on which circuits are affected (or all of them),
the open could be in the service drop, in the entrance panel,
or even in a sub-panel, or in a splice in some junction box
(in the case of only a few circuits affected).
The guy who suggested it may require "digging into"
was probably right.
That means you have a poor or disconnected (open) neutral. (That should
be the white wire)
THIS CAN BE DANGEROUS AND CAUSE A FIRE OR DAMAGE ELECTRIC APPLIANCES.
The fact that you did not know what it is leads me to suggest calling the
Yeah -- but I think I'd call a different electrician. The OP's description of
the symptoms is a clear indication of an open neutral, and any competent
electrician should have spotted that immediately.
In my opinion, though, before calling an electrician, the OP should call the
power company back first, and insist that they come out and check for loose
connections on the neutral, all the way from the transformer to the meter
base. Call an electrician only if the power company verifies that *their* side
is all good.
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
On Dec 1, 1:08 pm, firstname.lastname@example.org (Doug Miller) wrote:
re: Having the power company check all the way from the transformer to
the meter base.
I don't know if the OP's company will do it, but a few years back I
had some flickering and the power company checked all the way to the
main breaker in the panel for me. Maybe they just weren't that busy -
nice quiet, spring night...they showed up within a half hour of my
call. Turned out not to be anything related to the neutral, but at
least they eliminated everything from the main breaker out which made
my troubleshooting a whole easier. Turned out to be a bad breaker.
Start by looking for something warmer than normal. If you can get a handheld
non-contact infrared temp gun that's the easiest way. Somewhere you have a
bad connection between the utility company transformer all the way to the
power bars in your panel. So you're talking about connections at the
transformer, the masthead, the meter base, the grounding electrode, the main
breaker,the main breaker buss attachment, the neutral buss attachment. If
you're not comfortable with exposed electrical equipment, hire a pro. Try
the power company first, they'll have to check to the meter base anyway,
downstream of that it requires an electrician. But the power company may
have the infrared device I suggested and they can check your panel also
It hasn't happened again since the time of this post a couple of
nights ago. I came here to try and get an idea too of WHO to call
next. I was told by the electric company that if they come out and it
is not their problem then they will charge us a fee. And if the
electrician comes out of course he charges a fee no matter who's
problem it is.
I already have one fee from the electric company because they said it
wasn't their problem, I'm afraid I will call the electrician, he'll
come out and charge a fee and say it is their problem and to call them
back. I just have a bad feeling about all this! I can't afford to
be paying fees for people to say it's someone else's problem. Plus I
really don't see why I have to pay the electric company anything - I
pay them plenty of money every month! And if it's not their fault,
they did no work anyway so why the charge! Sorry to vent, just
feeling a little frustrated!
I guess we'll keep thinking on it and decide what to do tomorrow.
Thanks for the help, atleast we know what the problem probably is and
not to call that first electrician back.
Call another (i.e. better) electrician. If he says it is your problem,
then you pay to fix it and it is over.
If he is confident that it is the power company's problem, you call
the power company and don't have to pay. PLUS you demand a refund for
the first charge, since they were wrong and you never owed them money.
You could even try and have them pay for the second electrician, since
they told you that was what you needed to do and they again were wrong.
That first electrician sounded like a moron. I worked as a plumber
and also as a general handyman for years. The first part of being a
business person is to NOT leave the customer hanging, and then charge
them. If I went to a job and determined I could not handle the job or
simply did not want it, I clearly told them "I do not feel I am able
to do this job for you", and would refer them to something.....
There would not be a charge for this, because I did not charge for
estimates, and this was considered an estimate. If I came and took
the job seriously, I'd start to look for the problem, and go from
there. If your electrician had opened your breaker box and actually
done something, he should have found a problem, or at least isolated
it to whether it's in the house, or the electric company's wiring. If
he did not do this, he did NOTHING and you dont owe him a cent.
Since you said the problem is only that one circuit, why not just
replace that particular breaker, as I said before. Unless you got
some oddball breakers, they cost under $10. If this solves it, you're
done. If not you are only out a few bucks and have a good breaker to
sit on top of your box for the next time you have a problem. From
what you described, if the problem only exists on that one circuit, in
otherwords, the rest of the house is OK and the problem is isolated to
only ONE circuit, example, the one breaker that controls the microwave
and a few lights, then the problem is not likely to be the outdoor
wires that supply the house, which means it's either the breaker that
furnishes that circuit, or a loose wire somewhere in there. If you
want to save money, do some of your own testing.
Shut off the power at the main. Look for loose screws or charred
connections. Replace that breaker. Turn power back on, if problem is
nit solved, determine if the problem is isolated to one particular
circuit. If it is, then when you call an electrician they only have
to check that one circuit.
On Fri, 30 Nov 2007 16:22:46 -0800 (PST), email@example.com wrote:
It's the transformer on the pole outside. If you look on the pole,
there is a thing that looks like a large can, usually black or gray.
with wires coming out of it. That thing feeds your house and as you
said, it appears to feed your neighbors house too.
Anyhow, it's running out of power. Those things are filled with
electricity when they are installed on a pole. Just like the
batteries in your flashlight, they begin to run out of power as they
age, and after 20 years or so they just run dry. Most of them are
not rechargable, so they need to be replaced just like the
non-rechargable batteries in a flashlight, but some models can be
refilled with liquid electricity and are good for another 10 or more
Call your power company again, and explain to them that your pole
transformer is empty and has run out of electricity. Tell them to
either replace it, or refill it with liquid electricity. If they
wont, tell them you refuse to pay your electric bill.
Additionally, It's most likely that your neighbor emptied it with all
his power tools, so I'd have a few words with him and make him well
aware that he's a (____ insert cuss words here____), and tell him you
place all blame on him, and you are extremely angry. Then explain to
him that you will forgive him is he also calls the power company and
demands a transformer replacement or refill, and that he also refuses
to pay his bill until they take care of this matter.
Grandmere Electrical Services
610 W. 12th St.
Springville, Utah 84664
We Specialize in residential wiring and service.
On Fri, 30 Nov 2007 16:22:46 -0800 (PST), firstname.lastname@example.org wrote:
Open your breaker box and look for any charred or corroded
connections. If you see any, call your electrician, or if you are
comfortable working around electricity, shut off the main breaker,
then check to see if the screws are tight, and tighten all the neutral
screws while you are in there. Pay particular attention to the
breaker on the suspected circuit. Have someone turn on the microwave
and listen to the breaker. If it makes a popping sound, replace it.
Or hyst replace it anyhow, they are not that expensive. Otherwise you
have a bad connection, and begin opening every box on that line.
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.