Electrical issue.

Discussion in 'Homesteading' started by Mikewood, Feb 10, 2019.

  1. Mikewood

    Mikewood Supporter Supporter

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    I need some electrical advice. I have an older home and the lights flicker. A lot of the issue are broken breakers plugs and sockets which I am replacing as time permits. Seemed they wired the entire house on one circuit.

    Last night the circuit started flickering and went out. Then came back on about 10 seconds later. Then it did it again until I turned off all the lights and breaker and went to bed.

    The breaker didn’t trip and I don’t smell anything. I have two more switches to replace and plan to check all my work up to this point to be sure its all tight.

    What else could it be?
    Thanks.
     
  2. Monkeynono

    Monkeynono Supporter Supporter

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    I had an issue with my home where the light would dim or flicker. It turned out to be a bad connection from the poll to the house ,pre meter. Had to have the power company come out and fix it.
     
  3. 66drifter

    66drifter Guide

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    similar issue in a 1971 built house

    called the electricalishions and they
    came right out(night call even)

    1st thing they checked was the connection behind the meter and that was it

    slight corrosion caused pitting in the set screw and a full load would cause an ever so slight bit of movement which opened the circuit

    the utility company had to be informed that the meter seal had been removed and replaced

    reassembly included a bit of magic goop to further protect the connection was smeared in the right way and everything was reassembled :)

    all good now
     
  4. Unistat76

    Unistat76 Nerd Supporter Bushclass I

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    I'm no where near an electrician, but just for troubleshooting purposes to eliminate variables, I'd have someone (power company or electrician) come out and check the connection and feed coming into the house.

    Just seems to be a possibility to me, since the whole house is flickering.
     
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  5. Leshy_apprentice

    Leshy_apprentice Supporter Supporter

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    Since everything is one circuit, if I understand correctly, that is going to complicate troubleshooting, making it harder to isolate the fault location. A fault anywhere in the circuit will effect the whole circuit. Could be supply, could be a fault in a load connected anywhere, could be faulty breakers as you suggest, could be wiring/connections somewhere...hard to say, especially since it may be an intermittent fault which might not always be evident at the time your test meter is connected.

    It will help to remove loads (and test them individually if you can), and isolate and test smaller sections of the circuit at a time to narrow down where/what is causing problems. That would be my general approach, but it's hard to go further in detail without being there in person or seeing a wiring diagram to develop a plan.

    I'd try to get this fixed very soon, not push it off or delay "as time allows." The wiring practices (all 1 circuit) sounds sketchy for residential electric supply. Makes you question what the electrician or whoever did it was thinking...if they were thinking, that is, haha.

    But seriously, bad electric systems can cause a fire to burn your place down. Sounds like the problem is reaching advanced stages with your power cutting in and out without apparent cause...the time to fix this potential electrical-fire-waiting-to-happen is yesterday, as they say.

    If you can't figure it out yourself, I'd bite the bullet and call in a professional electrician to evaluate. It'll cost you, but he'll probably be able to identify the issue(s) and recommend upgrades to fix it. Either take his notes and perform the work DIY, or pay him to fix it up. In the long run, it might save you from the place burning down, and be worth the investment if you look at it that way. Good luck!
     
    Last edited: Feb 10, 2019
  6. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

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    If it was breezy, have the local utility check the connection to the pole and house. If all is well there have an electrician take a look. As much as I hate paying people to do things it's better to get a short figured out before a fire possibly starts.
     
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  7. Tdr

    Tdr Scout

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    Intermittent problems are the hardest to figure out most times. I had a call with flickering lights and of course I couldn't find anything. They sent me again and this time I figured it might be on the power companies side. Had to climb a very thick pine tree that the overhead line went thru and the wire insulation was rubbing thru on a branch.
    There's a lot of things that can cause your problems like others have said, bad utility connections, water in the meter base and panel, loose neutral connections and hot connections In the meter base and panel,loose branch circuit connections, bad switches. Breakers not connecting to the bus bar properly, non dimmable led bulbs on dimmer switches will flicker, ect ect.
     
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  8. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

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    We prefer the term "weather coating"... otherwise we get wise crackers with their boom on the 14kv telling us the wires are "insulated".
     
  9. Tdr

    Tdr Scout

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    This was on the secondary side going to the house so it was definitely insulation, no way am I going to climb a tree for an up close inspection of a primary, I'll leave that to linemen .
     
  10. Jetjr

    Jetjr Tracker

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    If it's the whole house I would call the utility company. Not sure about yours but the one I work for it is no charge to check the service coming into the house, we do not cover the service entrance cable though. Does your service run overhead or underground? If its overhead does it run through trees? Is your stove electric or gas? Lots of variables that a trouble man can ask to get clues as to how to approach things.
     
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  11. KFF

    KFF Supporter Supporter

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    Here, with these symptoms, it's called zero fault. The ground/earth line is the one to fail at the meter/pole. Plenty dangerous if you happen to use the wrong appliance and end up being the ground yourself.
     
  12. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

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    Secondary wire isn't insulated either. It's all weather coating. While the lines technically have insulation properties they are not 100% insulated. In other words... touch that line and you'll get the shock of your life. I've actually been to a facility that makes the wires as part of EHAP training. Even they will tell you the lines are not insulated, just weather proofed.
     
  13. Tdr

    Tdr Scout

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    That's I good idea, at least around here they'll pull the meter for you wearing the right safety equipment , if you call a contractor you'll get charged even if the problem is on the utility companies side,
     
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  14. Tdr

    Tdr Scout

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    OK, you got me on that technically, I shall from now on refer to triplex as a messenger wire with 2 weather coated wires wrapped around it:)
     
  15. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

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    ;p the change comes from the fact that a lot of small tree companies decide, oh it's insulated that means I can touch it with my equipment. I had to shut down a private tree crew who had their boom pulling the 14kv down... I saw them setting up and said I'm outa here... got 1/2 mile down the road and saw the entire line shake... had to turn around. Boom pulling lines down, ground worker only 5-10ft from the truck... I'm standing far as hell away yelling at the dude to shut down... he comes down. I explain to him what the problem is... he looks me dead in the eyes and says "it's insulated". I thought he meant the boom. My response was the boom is only insulated from the knuckle up what about your ground worker standing next to your truck... or your truck itself. "No, the lines are insulated"... I stood there with them for an hour waiting for the safety guy to show up and re-explain everything I had told him because he didn't want to listen to me. Dudes lucky he didn't set his truck on fire. I posted up pictures a long time ago with the company name blurred out in another electrical themed thread. Not sure I have them anymore though.
     
  16. JeffG

    JeffG Scout

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    If the onset was somewhat sudden, and you are cofident of the feed, Try replacing the breaker. they do wear out.
     
  17. Jetjr

    Jetjr Tracker

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    Electricians aren't supposed to pull meters in my area at least. They do all the time but shouldn't. I used to tell everyone when I was a trouble man to call the utility first if it was flickering lights or a bunch of rooms out and no breaker were tripped.
     
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  18. 1066vik

    1066vik Guide

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    check the connections coming into your breaker/fuse box, make sure the connections coming in are tight.
    also check the ground clamp outside the box to make sure it's still solid as well.
     
  19. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

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    Best advice mr Jet jr.

    There are meters that when pulled DO NOT KILL THE POWER even on some residents. This is usual with commercial but there are a lot of residential meters where you pull the meter and the BUSS is still connected... meaning still has power. Many also have fail safe bridges so pull the meter... bam still have power. Let's not even talk about the giant blue blinding arc that can happen if you pull the meter incorrectly.
     
  20. Gumbi

    Gumbi Guide Bushclass I

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    We had that issue with the lights in multiple rooms flickering. I ended up calling the utility company, and they ended up replacing a transformer in the neighborhood. It took care of the problem.

    Just in the past week we've had more problems with lights flickering, but those were just cheap LED bulbs going bad.
     
  21. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    I was having some issues with my main breaker popping. It kept getting worse to the point that if our clothes dryer was running and the electric water heater kicked in the breaker would pop. We would have to wait for it to cool down to reset it. I ordered a new breaker, and when I went to install it, I found that the set screws were not tight for holding in the wires. :eek:

    I changed the breaker anyway, and coated the wires with Oxguard, and all was well. A few months later the same thing was happening. I re-tightened the set screws and have had no more problems with it in over 3 years now.
     
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  22. Cheapeats

    Cheapeats Guide

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    Kill th emain fuse/breaker and start by making sure everything is tight in the box especially the neutrals(whites) these are often overlooked, we had a similar issue going on and it was the line from the pole to my house.
     
  23. Jeffa

    Jeffa Tracker

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    Might be from the pole. Sounds like power surges.
     
  24. gila_dog

    gila_dog Supporter Supporter

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    Are all the lights on one circuit, with one breaker? If so try flipping the breaker on and off about 10 times and see if that helps. Breakers and switches can get pitted or corroded and the mechanical action of switching them on and off can clean them up. If that helps, then replace the breaker. It will probably start causing trouble again in the future. If you have a main breaker, or switch that controls power to the breaker panel, that could have the same problem. The on/off switching exercise on that breaker could make the problem go away for a while, and that breaker should be replaced. Or, as others have said, you could have a loose or dirty connection between the breaker panel and the meter on the side of your house or pole. Unless you know what you are doing, that's a job for an electrician.
     
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  25. budman5

    budman5 Supporter Supporter

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    You have a lose connection. Hire an electrician he will have the needed test equipment to get you safely up and running. He will advise what’s next.
    I’ve been an electrician for 40 years, if you don’t know what you’re doing, get professional help.
     
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  26. Mikewood

    Mikewood Supporter Supporter

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    Update.
    First rule of trouble shooting.
    If something is happening that didn’t happen before you made a change then check what you did.
    A simple loose connection was tightened and all is better.
    Moral of the story. Check the tightness of all mechanical connections that were tightened with electric tools with a hand tool. Lug nuts electrical wiring etc.

    Thanks guys!
     
  27. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

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    ? It's not code where you are for your dryer to be on a separate breaker from everything else? My well is on it's own breaker, dryer on it's own, furnace on it's own. I thought this was part of the National Electrical Code?
     
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  28. gohammergo

    gohammergo I like sharp things.... Supporter Bushcraft Friend

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    No, dryer and water heater each have their own breaker, but they wouldn't trip. It was the 100 amp main breaker that would heat up and trip. That is what made me think the main was bad. When i went to replace the main, and found the set screws loose, I kinda figured that might be the trouble, but I had the new breaker so I replaced it anyway. I went through and checked out all of the individual breakers and ground wires as well and made sure that everything was tight.
     
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  29. Fishrarr

    Fishrarr Tracker

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    Years ago I had the same problem more or less. It ended up being the connection on the power pole was loose, as soon as the line man touch the wire my power came back on. Give you power company a call. I would what to get this fixed right away, as I would be worried about a major short that could start fire, that's way better than loosing you house especially if you were a away.
     
  30. Eric Westbrook

    Eric Westbrook Supporter Supporter

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    Got a call from the VFW hall in town on a saturday afternoon, getting ready for bingo, they said the the lights were flickering bad. Got there, sure enough, that many things flickering is usually the utility. Went out to look at the connection, the fuse up on the pole Xformer was in meltdown mode.

    Secondary/Triplex is insulated. Bare neutral/messenger but insulated phase conductors, usually 600V URD coating. They HAVE to be to prevent phase to phase & phase to neutral shorts.
     
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  31. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

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    Still not considered insulated... hell even the orange covers/guards you see linemen use as "insulation" are not insulation... they are not even rated or tested. Yes, hendrix line is "insulated" to an extent and so are other companies but they can't tell you that because they cannot guarantee once it is on the pole that it is still insulated, hence it it weather coated. In fact ever seen that lovely blue flash when a tree comes down onto spacer cable and they contact each other? I have. Guess what? That means it wasn't insulated. Ever seen what happens when a branch hangs up on a secondary and makes contact with the phone or cable line? Hint, power goes out... not insulated. This is "covered" wire, not insulated wire. There is a reason secondary is "no touch" and anything over 1kv to 15kv has a 2'1" minimum approach distance. Barely any power lines out there are actually insulated. You will rarely see actual insulated wire as it is pretty expensive. "Okonite Self Supporting Aerial Cable" is actually insulated... it's easy to spot as it is a messenger cable with 3 lines wrapped/bundled together. This has an actual insulation layer in each line. But even that once on the pole is not considered insulated as anything from that point forward may have happened to the line... it only takes a pin hole.
     
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  32. Vanitas

    Vanitas Supporter Supporter

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    Just because I'm in the mood...



    Notice, that is covered wire... known as "tree wire"... pretty much the standard covered wire you'll see out there. Looks real insulated eh?
     
  33. Polecat

    Polecat Polecat in a Poke Supporter

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    That aluminum wire on the service entrance cable is supposed to be coated in ox-guard where it terminates at the panel box and meter head. If either your end or the power company's end didn't get that treatment, it's possible for the aluminum wire to corrode and cause problems like you're having. Nowadays most states require it to pass inspection, but if your service was installed many years ago, then it's possible you've got corrosion.

    It's not hard to fix, but the power company will have to come out and disconnect your service at the transformer while you do it.

    Check and make sure your interior wiring is not aluminum, too. If it is, tear it all out and pull in copper, or it will likely eventually burn your house down. They did some of that in the 70s I think, but it didn't last very long before people realized it was a bad idea.
     
  34. junkpile

    junkpile Scout

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    I think you may have some potentially dangerous problems. I'd get an electrician out there to check things out, and it's probably not going to be cheap. Also could look at getting a circuit tracer and start running things down until you locate your problems.

    I've been in my house for almost 2 years now, and my son got buzzed on the garage door tracks this fall. I ended up tracing it down to a circuit that had the hot and neutral backwards. I'm really glad I found it after seeing what the actual problem was. To make matters worse, both that and another circuit were just buried in the yard, open-ended. The strange thing was, this garage is only about 4 years old, as it had been rebuilt after the original burned down. I was thinking neglect from welding or something, but I'd say this electrical issue was probably the real culprit.
     

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