electrical service help desperately needed,pro or anectdotal welcome

Discussion in 'Homesteading Questions' started by mightybooboo, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Heres the story.house 1935,60 amp service,three 15 amp circuits.Power went out,i flipped the disconnect a few times,no power.Everyone in neighbor hood out.My switch was difficult to turn.Power comes on,my power surges and out it goes.Open box,the disconnect switch has melted.This setup is power meter,wires straight to disconnect,then straight to the fuse holders.Old screw in type fuses.One straight line,an integral unit as in whole setup is on big box.Power company comes up,turns off power at meter.Nephew wires from meter to a 100 amp fused disconnect,then to the fuse bars that the fuses power off of.Electric company inspects,approves,and turns on power.

    OK,heres the problem,Im now having variable power voltages in house,usually 116-118 volts and all is well,then POOF,power dumps to about 108 volts.I can turn on dryer,and power will come to 118,USUALLY,sometimes it just browns out,though I have no voltage reading for that.

    Today wife says she got shocked when bathing and touched the cold water tap.So I get my meter,house is 118 volts,check with 1 probe to tap,other to water in tub,it reads 1 volt.Thought thats odd,1 volt and she got zapped,so I had her turn on electric heater ,volts at outlet 108 and checked tub again.14 volts!!

    So this is what I think,either the nuetral to the house was damaged,or the meter or something,or the house has a ground to water pipes or ???? thats perhaps faulty?Years ago my niece said she felt a tingle from tub,though old man me couldnt feel it.

    So,a ground problem?What do you know as a pro or homeowner thats experienced such a thing??? This is the advice I need.

    What should replacing service to 200 amp, with just three 15 amp house circuits and 12 outlets total cost in Socal,high cost area?Wires travel through metal flexible conduit.It is an outdoor style service box.

    Thanks for the help and advice.
    BooBoo
     
  2. stonerebel

    stonerebel Well-Known Member

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    I would say you have a faulty ground. I would check my ground at meter base first. Then check ground at breaker box. If you get tingle feeling off the pipes or tub then something is bleeding through. If this is an old house sometimes aluminum wiring was used and not copper, and that could be a problem because it will break if you look at it wrong. Check your voltage as it comes in the breaker box make sure you are getting the correct voltage on high and low side. I still would bet on a ground fault some place.
     

  3. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sometimes one has to bite the bullet & hire a pro. Seems you have a dangerous situation there. I'd want it fixed by someone who's licence & insurance is on the line, not by some faceless nut like me half a contenent away & a bunch of half-baked ideas. :)

    If things melted down literally on you, I would expect the ground wire, which is unfused, also got melted down 'somewhere' and you have a ground fault issue. But it's difficult for me to speculate with your family's lives....

    --->Paul
     
  4. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    2 excellent answers so far,I WILL have it fixed by a pro,agree 1000% this is a time to bite the bullet on expense,just want to go into it not looking like a total dummy.This is a serious life threatening problem,nothing to mess around with.Definitely this time it will be an electrician who does the work.

    I have done a servicebox replacement many years ago,really nothing to it,got it inspected by the county and was up and running,but it was done on a home I was refurbashing before i moved in,so i had a week to dilly dalley around with it,not the case this time.

    Thanks gentlemen.
    More answers and stories gratefully appreciated
    BooBoo
     
  5. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Does have copper wire.I wont be checking any live voltages at the meter after seeing the damage done when it shorted( Im not qualified to do THAT! :eek: ),I imagine i wouldnt be here,meltdown!I will check it at the disconnect,its a clean box,easily accessed,lots of room,I feel 'safe' looking in there,not the meter.The voltages were equal at 118 volts both sides(to meter and to circuit fuses) of disconnect fuses(2 fuses,100 amps each if that matters) if that means anything.Even the SCE guy was leery of it(Old meter setup),and came back next day to show it to a young fella as its so old! :eek:
    BooBoo
     
  6. mysticokra

    mysticokra Well-Known Member

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    You should also call the power company. If you hire a pro, he will have them pull the meter when he installs your new 150AMP box (I'd get a 200AMP)

    The wires from the pole to the house should be checked and they will do that for free, once you explain the need.
     
  7. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Still more great advice! Will do that.
    BooBoo
     
  8. morrowsmowers

    morrowsmowers Well-Known Member

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    You should have 2 ground cables from the circuit panel. One goes striaght outside to a ground rod driven into the soil. The other goes to a cold water pipe if you have copper plumbing. If you have city water there needs to be a jumper cable at the meter, too. That gives you 2 grounds in case something happens to one of them. Also, the ground lines and the neutral lines come back to the same points in the panel but should not be interconnected at any other place in the system. If you have any sub panels (such as in a shed or barn) they must have a seperate neutral and ground bus. Any time you get current from appliances to ground you have a very dangerous situation and it is potentially deadly. Also, if you have an electric dryer or other 240v appliance it is advisable to change wiring from 3 prong plug to 4 prong plug -- that gives you 2 hots - 1 neutral - 1 ground. Makes things even safer.

    Ken in Glassboro, NJ
    :cool:
     
  9. Nevada

    Nevada Voice of Reason Supporter

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    You could try turning off one circuit at a time, and see if the brown-out still occurs. If you can isolate the problem to just one circuit then you can concentrate on just that area.
     
  10. thebeav

    thebeav Well-Known Member

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    Not only is there a faulty ground, but when your voltage drops like that it's usually a bad neutral somewhere.
    George
     
  11. agmantoo

    agmantoo agmantoo Supporter

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    With the shock situation you may have one other problem not mentioned. You could have a heating element in a hot water heater shorted. Disconnect both hot wires to the water heater and see if everything goes to OK. Additionally, you need to verify the service entrance cable size from the transfomer to the power meter if you are thinking of upgrading to a higher amperage. You may have too small of a service entrance cable to move much higher.
     
  12. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    OK,we dont have copper pipes,and dont have 240.Im going to look today for those grounds.We also dont have any sub panels.Im glad to see you all are thinking its a ground problem,sounds like I should be able to get repaired without too great an expense,esp. if i can find a shoody ground hookup on my own.Are you saying if its not copper,I wont have a water pipe ground?What do you mean 'jumper' cable at meter..to water pipe or ground rod?
     
  13. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Will try that
     
  14. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    If its bad nuetral,i cant fix that(not touching anything thats near hot wires,not qualified in any way to go near anything like that),I will look at the grounds.If thats not it,I will have electric comp. check their nuetral,then call the electrician to look at it.
    I really appreciate the knowledge!
     
  15. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Yep,power guy already told me to get a new 'drop' if upgrading to 200 amp when he came out.Gas for hot water.

    Would like to thank you ALL,great advice,and I feel better having an idea on whats up.I will let you know as it progresses,will try to get SCE out on Monday,see if i can schedule em ASAP,will be in touch with the resolution.
    You all got it right,this is a dangerous thing that must get fixed fast.
    BooBoo
     
  16. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    1 question not answered yet,any one know what an upgrade to 200 amp with outdoor box should run?
    BooBoo
     
  17. rambler

    rambler Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Any metal pipes can be used as a ground rod - at one time that was all that was needed. Now the dual system, both water pipe & ground rod is required. So who knows what you will find...

    A water meter might not ground from one side of itself to the other, therefore a big bare copper cable will be (should be) clamped to the pipe on either side of the meter to complete the ground. Also a ground wire onto the pipe should be (doesn't mean that is what you will find) located fairly close to where the pipe enters the ground.

    What happens is some pipe gets replaced by plastic, or the water line outside the hose leaks and gets replaced with plastic under ground - and then you have no or poor ground even tho it was originally a good thing.

    Therefore, they now require both grounds, pipe if you have metal, plus the ground rod.

    --->Paul
     
  18. gobug

    gobug Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I looked at home deport about two months ago because I need to purchase a 200 amp service box and guts to electrify my property. They sell a package with some breakers included for $129. (If I recall correctly) It's definitely under $200.
     
  19. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Did get under house today,found a couple should I say junction boxes,that had a flexible conduit from main panel,then 2 0r 3 conduits running from that to what appeaers to be my wall plugs.Didnt like the looks of those boxes,and I didnt see what I suspect is ground (the solid conduit from bottom of panel) as its way under house behind floor joist? and wasnt interested in going that far back today.
    Im thinking,looking at this,that i can fish new romex to each wall plug(only 12) upgrade to a new panel,and I can do this myself in a day or so after pulling a permit and having SCE pull the power.I will research this a bit and get back to you.It may be feasible to just rewire this thing completely,gotta think a bit about this.Do my ceiling lights run from a wall plug,to wall switch ,then to lights,is that how that works?They seem to be on same circuits as floor plugs.
    BooBoo
     
  20. mightybooboo

    mightybooboo Well-Known Member

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    Still havent been able to even get someone to come out and look at it.With the residential boom on out here,they are booked solid doing housing tracts!
    Soo.....if you are an underworked electrician,apparently Socal has a job for you.Will update again when I find someone who can actually find the time to stop by.Called and talked to a couple more answering machines today.
    BooBoo