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 Post subject: Calling all electricians
PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 8:11 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:46 pm
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Location: Markham, ON, CA
I need some help here regarding the power into my house and who better to ask than CAM electricians!

What I have is an regular but intermittent power issue. I have 200 amp service into a ITE panel in the basement. We also had a flood two years ago that wrote off much of the house. I am not sure if this issue is corrosion-related or what....but here goes.

The issue is one of clean power to the house. There are times (when it is really cold outside or very humid/rainy) when all the lights in the house flicker momentarily....like 20 times a minute. Also, my APC kicks in and out regularly; when it does I get AC hum on my stereo....interestingly, if I power off the circuit entirely, there is no AC hum...is this an indication of a neutral fault versus power drop?

So here are my thoughts....

first, this appears to be systemic...the whole house is suffering these instantaneous blips

second, I wonder if the power panel needs all breakers re-seated to break any corrosion? The fact that all circuits are affected seems to indicate an issue at the main breaker or entrance cable interface...

third, when the house air conditioner kicks in, the lights dim throughout the house...again, an indication that a 220 load can induce this behaviour

fourth, this condition is exacerbated significantly when it is really cold outside or (like today) when the outside humidity reaches 100 percent. I have thought, on a dry day when there are no problems, I should sit outside and soak the meter and entrance cable conduit....and see if I can induce a response.

finally, when my wife uses the hair dryer the lights on that circuit flicker constantly. (I know this may be just one circuit issue; the safety breaker may be the issue here) I am changing out that outlet today.

I have called Hydro and they came and checked at the meter...and (of course) said there is no problem on their end.

The panel has been inspected when we did the 200A conversion (and installed the new entrance cable). |All passed with flying colours. Prior to closing up the basement, all junctions were checked and re-twisted then marettes re-installed) There is no signs of corrosion at the panel, no excessive heat indicated or found when checked (I have checked all the breakers for heat variances etc). I am drawing a blank here.

Is there some sort of trap or monitor that can be placed on the incoming circuit (from the meter) to determine if we have an issue with the termination at the meter? Or even power from the street?
Give me a few things to do to eliminate obvious and simple issues (like re-seating breakers)...let me try them, and at least eliminate a few issues before the professionals arrive.... Any GTA based electricians wanting to take this on? PM me please.

Being "follically challenged" I cannot honestly say I am pulling my hair out here, but I am certainly frustrated :?

Thanks in advance.
Tom


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:16 am 
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Location: St.Catharines, ON, CA
Sounds like a loose connection (neutral suspect) when new entrance installed.
Not much you can do at the meter but can snug up the neutral in the breaker panel.
Being weather related my guess would be at the meter though.

Probably best to contact the original electrician who did the work.


Gary


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:25 am 
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Location: Markham, ON, CA
Thanks Gary. That was my thought as well....Deal is the work was done 20 years ago....kinda past any warranty! I will investigate further.

I also just installed a polarity tester in a circuit I can see from the couch; hopefully when/if it happens I can see the tester indicating something funky.

Thanks for the heads up
Tom


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 9:53 am 
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Location: Ottawa, ON, CA
I'm not an electrican, but as part of Electrical Engineering we did study Electrical Power and it's issues, and just general experience -> what it sounds like is a grounding/earthing issue. Usually the white neutral and the green ground are bonded together and the incoming service is grounded/bonded to the incoming water service - on the external side of the water meter.

So if you had a flood perhaps this connection is corroded? Adequate when the soil is dry but when the soil resistance goes up, not so good.

Scroll down to the 2nd answer, the first is answering a different question.
https://www.quora.com/How-do-you-check- ... ly-earthed

BTW, my parents home built 35 years or so ago, had no water service (country home), so had no earth at all! This resulted in a whole raft of weird issues that presented itself a bit after the TV antenna mast was taken down. This was solved by driving in a new earthing rod and connecting the electrical ground to that.

~A


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 10:27 am 
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Location: Markham, ON, CA
Good suggestion. I'll check both today. After the flood, all connections are suspect. Back in the day, with telephone connections, bad grounds were a big issue in rurals. The trick was, in dry spells, to go and get a bucket of water and pour it over the ground rod. Most often the problem went away. Of note, TSSA now required propane furnaces to be grounded. The option is to take a #6 ground wire from the black pipe over to the common ground at the breaker or to install an external ground rod and take the black pipe to it. This is now (within the last few years) and is required in order to prevent LP tanks from blowing up if the building/unit were to be struck by lightening.

So, today, I will go and clean up the ground inside the house. I know that the ground wire is one constant strand...I will make sure the water pipe connection is clean and tight, then I'll get into the panel.

Thanks again, Tom


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 2:36 pm 
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Location: London, ON, CA
If you are not comfortable doing the work hire someone.

As mentioned earlier there is more than likely a bad connection on the neutral.

The reason for the neutral issue is it is common to both phases in your home.

All connections in the panel need to be checked, including the mains to the panel.

I would not be putting any water in the direction of any suspected electrical faults.

If not fixed as soon as possible, you may end up with a larger bill than expected...

Regards
Ohms

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“It's easier to fool people than to convince them that they have been fooled.” ----Mark Twain

https://www.leohl.ca


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:23 pm 
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Location: Repentigny, QC, CA
So you said your house was flooded , is your power panel and of your breakers are there since?
Is your electrical installation was requalified by an electrician once you could live in your house?
Maybe corrosion on power panel contacts, and inside the breakers themselves and the 200A main too?
An electrician will qualify main connection for tightness maybe ''penetrox'' bare wires into the main 200A breaker
Then make sure you don't have wrong defective distribution breakers caused by water.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 4:52 pm 
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Location: Markham, ON, CA
Good advice. So I pulled the panel apart today.

Checked the grounds, the neutrals and all breakers. Found one GFI circuit that (I have no idea why) had a set of pigtails and marettes on it.....that was not me as I built the panel and all circuits myself years ago. During the renovations the contractor was into the panel....not sayin it was him, but it was not me! :shock: So I cleaned that circuit up, removed the pigtails and marettes and re-terminated it to a new breaker. So the panel is now back to code.

Just to be clear, the pulsing was occurring prior to the flood so I really do not think the reno was the cause here; this problem was prior to the flood....we just have had too much to deal with after the flood to even think about the power fluctuation issue....until now.

The entrance cable looks fine, all connections tight. Ground is properly bonded to the neutral. I also tightened up the neutrals and hot side of all breakers. So everything looks good, nothing shows signs of heat or stress or corrosion...and nothing happened when I wiggled all the wiring (you'd be surprised how many faults I have found by subjectively moving each wire to test its mechanical connection).

Last thing to check inside the house is the ground connection at the water pipe....will do that tomorrow.

So, I know the meter is the demarcation point for power. Does that mean that the connection (on the house side at the meter) is my responsibility? I just wonder, as we have had three meter changes (smart meters) over the past few years, might there be a fault caused by hydro? I say so because I could call them back, be there while they pop the meter and can take a look at the connections at that time.

The other question: is there some sort of "trap" that could be put on the entrance cable, or at the panel, that could show what is happening?

Again, thanks! I am concerned as this has been going on too long. After losing the house to a flood, then the restoration, I sure don't want to lose the house to a fire!

Thanks again for your help.

Tom

-- 24 Jun 2018 01:58 --

revoxb77 wrote:
So you said your house was flooded , is your power panel and of your breakers are there since?
Is your electrical installation was requalified by an electrician once you could live in your house?
Maybe corrosion on power panel contacts, and inside the breakers themselves and the 200A main too?
An electrician will qualify main connection for tightness maybe ''penetrox'' bare wires into the main 200A breaker
Then make sure you don't have wrong defective distribution breakers caused by water.


Agree. But the issue was occurring shortly before we had the flood. In addition I just checked all circuits and connections inside the panel today. No signs of corrosion, heat stress, loose connections etc. It do agree, that as the panel was exposed to a very high humidity for a protracted period of time, there may be unseen corrosion within the breakers themselves.

The signs (to me) appear to be at the connection between the entrance cable and the meter itself...the issues only occurred after the meter was changed. The problems have occurred through the next two meter changes however. This is systemic, with every circuit in the house affected. This is exacerbated by high humidity and cold temperatures. Symptomatic with mechanical connection issues. I wonder if the issue does not show itself at the meter, is there any way to test for a problem with the quality of power being supplied at the street?

Again, thanks.
Tom


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 5:25 pm 
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Posts: 190
Location: Dundas, ON, CA
If your service is overhead and not underground, you may have a bad connection at the service head. Typicaly you will have three splices connecting the overhead wire at the mast. Sometimes the splices develop a bad connection and this will be affected by temperature, wind and moisture. Best to contact your service provider and have those connections checked.


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PostPosted: Sat Jun 23, 2018 7:52 pm 
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Joined: Fri Jan 04, 2008 4:57 pm
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Location: Etobicoke, ON, CA
OK - A Real Electrician here - the problem is in the Meter Base /Weatherhead connections -
you really can't tell by looking at the interior of meter base, you need to measure the resistance

The incoming wires 3/0 AWG are not seated properly in the lugs -
you may have aluminum feeders.

never the less contact me and i will come by and fix you up.

Steve


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 3:15 am 
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Location: North Bay, ON, CA
And another real electrician. As mentioned above, problem is likely in the meter base. Sometimes the tension clip on the meter jaws fails or is missing, giving an intermittent connection. The lugs could be tight to the conductors, but the jaws could be faulty. You may see some discoloration on one of the jaws. Note the neutral feeds through, in residential only the two hots go through the meter.


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 7:15 am 
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sasquatch wrote:
Sounds like a loose connection (neutral suspect) when new entrance installed.
Not much you can do at the meter but can snug up the neutral in the breaker panel.
Being weather related my guess would be at the meter though.

Probably best to contact the original electrician who did the work.


Gary

+1


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:19 am 
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Location: Etobicoke, ON, CA
to brownslane - I am sure most Electricians would seriously recommend you address this issue right away - as its a serious problem that will only get worse - and worse case you would have arcing & sparking and melting of the meter base lug connections, which will be expensive to replace.

without seeing it - here is what I suggest - close inspection of grounding & bonding and neutral lugs in meter base or Weatherhead.

Call The local utility & E.S.A - this is a prime example of why our trade is licensed and requires a 5 year apprenticeship.


Remember if you pay peanuts you get monkeys - skilled labour isn't cheap - cheap labour isn't skilled


Steve


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 8:50 am 
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Joined: Thu Jan 13, 2011 11:29 am
Posts: 800
Location: St.Catharines, ON, CA
Who is responsible for what in Ontario ?
Lineman or electrician ?

G


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PostPosted: Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:06 am 
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Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 5:46 pm
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Location: Markham, ON, CA
Fridgeguy wrote:
If your service is overhead and not underground, you may have a bad connection at the service head. Typicaly you will have three splices connecting the overhead wire at the mast. Sometimes the splices develop a bad connection and this will be affected by temperature, wind and moisture. Best to contact your service provider and have those connections checked.


Thanks it is BSW. Still, I believe the head connection may well be the culprit. I will call hydro Monday and set something up. Thanks.

-- 24 Jun 2018 18:08 --

alladione wrote:
to brownslane - I am sure most Electricians would seriously recommend you address this issue right away - as its a serious problem that will only get worse - and worse case you would have arcing & sparking and melting of the meter base lug connections, which will be expensive to replace.

without seeing it - here is what I suggest - close inspection of grounding & bonding and neutral lugs in meter base or Weatherhead.

Call The local utility & E.S.A - this is a prime example of why our trade is licensed and requires a 5 year apprenticeship.


Remember if you pay peanuts you get monkeys - skilled labour isn't cheap - cheap labour isn't skilled


Steve


Gotcha. Hydro get the call Monday morning. Anybody you can recommend in the Markham area? Money is NOT the issue; I want this addressed asap. Thanks.

EDIT Steve, you have a PM. Guys, I'll report on what we eventually find.


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