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Electrical Inspections Contains discussions about electrical systems. This includes receptacles, panels, wiring, etc.

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  #1  
Old 11/26/07, 8:44 AM
Jeff Nunz Jeff Nunz is offline
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Default Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

I have a whole house problem of lights flickering and dimming as appliances run or start up. As the washing machine is in it's washing cycle, the light actually flicker to the agitation of the washer as if they were disco lights, this happens throughout the entire home. I also have dimming of lights throughout the house as appliances start up. It is an older home that has been built in the late 60's or early 70's with only a 60A service. I realize that this service is probably not adequate for todays amount and style of modern appliances. I did however check the breaker box for tight connections and a possible loose neutral and found nothing wrong. However I did check the incoming load at the panel and seems as though there is an indifference in the line voltage on each leg, as much as 20 to 25 volts difference from one side to the the other. Could this be a potential problem of my utility company, possibly at the meter socket, such as a bad connection. Anything anyone can share would be a great help!

Thanks, Jeff
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  #2  
Old 11/26/07, 8:56 AM
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mjohnson6 mjohnson6 is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

Jeff, I think you hit the nail on the head with the socket being faulty.

On older homes, it is not uncommon to find corrosion in the meter socket and this can cause flickering. At least thats my guess from here.

another thing i just thought of is do you get any shocks from the pipes..if so could be an open nuetral...

Last edited by mjohnson6; 11/26/07 at 9:04 AM.. Reason: new thought
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  #3  
Old 11/26/07, 8:57 AM
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Roy D. Cooke, Sr Roy D. Cooke, Sr is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

Call an electrician , this can not be fixed from away.
...Cookie
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Old 11/26/07, 8:59 AM
jking2 jking2 is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

Sounds most likely to involve a loose neutral connection, causing 120 volt lighting and appliances on each leg to in effect be in series with lighting and appliances on the other leg in a single 240 volt circuit. It sort of works when loads on each leg are by sheer luck perfectly balanced, but can subject lighting and appliances to any voltage between zero and 240 volts when load is increased or decreased on either leg.
I recommend you have a licensed electrician examine your electrical system immediately, as this would be a dangerous situation.

Jim King
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Old 11/26/07, 9:01 AM
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Bruce A. King Bruce A. King is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

You are correct, the problem appears to be in the meter socket or the service.

Just a note, you mentioned checking the load and then described the voltage difference..... Load checks result in amperage readings, voltage checks result in voltage readings.... you had your terminology wrong there.

A load difference between the two 120V lines are normal when random 120V loads are in operation. Voltage differences on those lines should not be more than a few volts.

If you are sure about the connections on your equipment its time to call the power company. I have even heard of them repairing things on the customers equipment for free many times around here.



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Old 11/26/07, 9:26 AM
Jeff Nunz Jeff Nunz is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

I checked the two main lines coming into the box from the meter. The one leg was reading around 129 volts while the other was reading about 107 volts. That's what led me to believe I may have a bad connection in the meter socket or even a bad meter.
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  #7  
Old 11/26/07, 11:12 AM
jking2 jking2 is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

The 127 (unusually high) + 107 (unusually low) add up to 236, very close to 240. That makes me continue to suspect a poor neutral connection. The 107 leg could also have a poor connection, and both problems could be in the meter socket, as stated by others.

Jim King
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Old 11/26/07, 11:26 AM
Greg Fretwell Greg Fretwell is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

If you have a non-contact thermometer you can probably spot this from a safe distance. Are any of the neutral connections in the panel discolored or dull looking? If the problem isn't there it is in the meter base or upstream from there. That is the PoCos problem and they will fix it for free. You can probably speed them up by saying it is an emergency and you are going in yourself ... but don't.
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Old 11/26/07, 11:27 AM
Jeff Nunz Jeff Nunz is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

Would you suspect the poor neutral connection to be in the utility companies wiring? That reading was taken at the box where the main coming in attaches to the breaker box lugs. I touched each lead, of which there are two, separately coming in and and the neutral bus bar to get the reading. I went over all the neutrals in the box and all are tight and secure. There is one that I am suspicious of though and it is a piece of stranded wire that runs from GFCI breaker to the neutral bus bar. I suspect that whomever installed the GFCI breaker used this piece of stranded wire instead of a piece of solid copper. Do you think I should replace it with a piece of solid?
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  #10  
Old 11/26/07, 12:03 PM
Jim Port Jim Port is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

The stranded wire on the GFI breaker is from the factory. There is no need to replace it.

Do as others have already suggested and call your local power company.
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Old 11/26/07, 12:03 PM
jking2 jking2 is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

I think you need either the POCO or a licensed electrician NOW. Whether you get it checked out for free or not should be one of your lesser concerns at this point Jeff.

Jim King
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  #12  
Old 11/26/07, 2:45 PM
Greg Fretwell Greg Fretwell is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

If the problem is not in your equipment, which sounds true, it has to be the PoCos problem. They don't want you in the meter can behind their seal (even though you might own it) and you certainly have no business up at the service point on the drop or at the transformer on the pole. So you can see this is clearly their job to fix it.
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  #13  
Old 11/27/07, 9:50 AM
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Roy D. Cooke, Sr Roy D. Cooke, Sr is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

Please Note: This user is a non-member guest and is in no way affiliated with InterNACHI.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff Nunz
I have a whole house problem of lights flickering and dimming as appliances run or start up. As the washing machine is in it's washing cycle, the light actually flicker to the agitation of the washer as if they were disco lights, this happens throughout the entire home. I also have dimming of lights throughout the house as appliances start up. It is an older home that has been built in the late 60's or early 70's with only a 60A service. I realize that this service is probably not adequate for todays amount and style of modern appliances. I did however check the breaker box for tight connections and a possible loose neutral and found nothing wrong. However I did check the incoming load at the panel and seems as though there is an indifference in the line voltage on each leg, as much as 20 to 25 volts difference from one side to the the other. Could this be a potential problem of my utility company, possibly at the meter socket, such as a bad connection. Anything anyone can share would be a great help!

Thanks, Jeff
I wonder how many if any of the above post's are made by electricians .
While we all like to give advice and information , I do wish you would think just a Little before giving advice like has been given above .
With knowing nothing of the person asking the questions and the person is not even ("Please Note: This user is a non-member guest and is in no way affiliated with InterNACHI. ").
Now if this person tries to make repairs and some one is hurt or worse I can see advertisement and possible more that NACHI or any of the above sure do not want or need.

Thanks.... Cookie
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  #14  
Old 11/27/07, 11:13 AM
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mjohnson6 mjohnson6 is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

I used to be an licensed electrician. It's true many are not electricians, That doesnt make it wrong to ask questions. However.. Cookie is right. and ultamately we do not want our poster to get hurt.
Call a licensed electrician to have it evaluated. You'll fell better.
Then Let us know what was wrong so we can gloat about who was right or wrong.
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  #15  
Old 11/27/07, 2:25 PM
Jeff Nunz Jeff Nunz is offline
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Default Re: Lights Flickering while appliances start-up and while running.

Just wanted to let you all know that the issue with the incoming electric is a problem of my utility. Apparently between the transformer and the handhole box (underground utilities). I appreciate all of your replies and I wanted to let "Cookie" know that I am safe and that I didn't electrocute myself. I would not have taken on any job that I couldn't have handled or tampered with the utility company's service in any way. I was only looking for some other opinions on what others thought the problem was.

J
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