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Old 03-10-2011, 05:06 AM   #1
i3k
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Angry Any electricians on here? Weird electrical problem at home.

Having a weird electrical problem at the house. Seems like it started after the power went out on our block from high winds 2 days ago. The power only went out for about 10 seconds and then kicked back on.

Well earlier tonight we started experiencing an electrical problem. At first the problem seemed to be isolated in the kitchen area. I have one of my aquariums in the dining area that's part of the kitchen. When I open the fridge, my filters on the aquarium shut off(fridge and aquarium plugged into different outlets). Also, the bulb in the fridge would dim and get brighter while the fridge was open. I turned the kitchen lights on, and again, the filters on my aquarium shut off, but I can tell the fridge was still working. Weird I thought, so I turned all the lights off in the kitchen and went upstairs to do some research on the computer. Then all of a sudden the room upstairs started experiencing a problem with the lights getting brighter and then dim some. I ran downstairs and there was no power in the kitchen at all.

So I went into the garage where the main circuit breaker box is and reset all the switches. One of the switches was kind of warm, not hot, but warmer than others. And when I barely touched that particular switch, there was this sound...shortening out type of sound. I went ahead and turned all the circuit switches off. After turning the switches back on, all the lights seem to be working without any flickering, dimming, getting brighter etc...

Anyone have a clue to what is happening?
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Old 03-10-2011, 10:34 AM   #2
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sounds to me like you have a short in one of your circuits, most likely the one your fridge and aquarium are plugged in to. I had a similar issue in my old apartment. I killed the breaker to that circuit, tested to make sure all the outlets were dead, and tightened up the connections on the back. That fixed it for me. Sometimes it's simple like that. That would be my first place to look before digging deep in to it and having an electrician come over.
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Old 03-10-2011, 10:47 AM   #3
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Yes, I would agree with rookie here. It sounds like you have a dead short somewhere in your loop. If it were me I would have an electrician come out and take a look to be safe. A hot, or even warm, breaker is not a good thing. I would keep the breaker in the off position until you can have someone qualified to check it out. Sounds like you had a surge and possibly fried something (insulation burnt and is shorting somewhere).

I work with high voltage (480 volt, three phase) all day and shorts is not something you want to mess around with.
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Old 03-10-2011, 11:11 AM   #4
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In the meantime, I'd use an extension cord and plug the tank into another circuit in another room. Just because the 2 are now on different outlets, doesn't mean they are on different circuits. But get the electrician out there. Like said, nothing to guess about or play with.
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Old 03-10-2011, 08:00 PM   #5
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Today I haven't experienced any problems so far. We'll see later tonight.

Can this possibly been some kind of temporary problem/glitch? Just seems like after resetting the circuits, everything has been stable. But if there is any further issues, I'll definitely be calling an electrician out.
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Old 03-10-2011, 08:20 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by i3k View Post
Having a weird electrical problem at the house. Seems like it started after the power went out on our block from high winds 2 days ago. The power only went out for about 10 seconds and then kicked back on.

Well earlier tonight we started experiencing an electrical problem. At first the problem seemed to be isolated in the kitchen area. I have one of my aquariums in the dining area that's part of the kitchen. When I open the fridge, my filters on the aquarium shut off(fridge and aquarium plugged into different outlets). Also, the bulb in the fridge would dim and get brighter while the fridge was open. I turned the kitchen lights on, and again, the filters on my aquarium shut off, but I can tell the fridge was still working. Weird I thought, so I turned all the lights off in the kitchen and went upstairs to do some research on the computer. Then all of a sudden the room upstairs started experiencing a problem with the lights getting brighter and then dim some. I ran downstairs and there was no power in the kitchen at all.

So I went into the garage where the main circuit breaker box is and reset all the switches. One of the switches was kind of warm, not hot, but warmer than others. And when I barely touched that particular switch, there was this sound...shortening out type of sound. I went ahead and turned all the circuit switches off. After turning the switches back on, all the lights seem to be working without any flickering, dimming, getting brighter etc...

Anyone have a clue to what is happening?
Call a licensed electrician IMMEDIATELY! I am an electrician, and it is not a short that is causing this, it is a loose nuetral, probably at the pole from the high winds. What is happening is when the lights on one side get bright, the voltage is increasing, and the side that gets dim, the voltage is decreasing...it is a see-saw effect caused by the bad nuetral. This CAN cause a FIRE! I have seen this happen in homes before where the electrical system used the cable tv ground as the nuetral because of the bad house nuetral, and the CATV wire goes up in flames like a fuse. Call your power company, or a licensed electrician IMMEDIATELY!!! Dont wait till it happens again!
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Old 03-10-2011, 10:03 PM   #7
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It could be an open neutral.. but I don't think it is at the pole or panel. If it were, the whole house would have the same problems.

It is probably an outlet or other connection isolated to that circuit. You could do some troubleshooting with a meter if you have one. Otherwise an electrician will need to be called to find the culprit.

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Old 03-10-2011, 10:13 PM   #8
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It could be an open neutral.. but I don't think it is at the pole or panel. If it were, the whole house would have the same problems.

It is probably an outlet or other connection isolated to that circuit. You could do some troubleshooting with a meter if you have one. Otherwise an electrician will need to be called to find the culprit.

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Steve, he noticed it in more than one room of the house. Last time I came accross this problem, it was in the meter socket....nuetral almost burned off. I know he needs to get it addressed ASAP, or he could have some big problems...
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Old 03-10-2011, 10:21 PM   #9
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Good catch, I re-read the OP and saw the part about upstairs. Sounds like you are spot on then.

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Old 03-10-2011, 10:59 PM   #10
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Good catch, I re-read the OP and saw the part about upstairs. Sounds like you are spot on then.

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I missed it the first time too, but caught it the second time. I hope he gets someone out there soon... I'll never forget the call I went on where the house used the CATV coax ground in place of the open nuetral.... talk about scary stuff. Coax literally looked like a burned up fuse. It was a miracle the house didnt go up in flames.

And Megosh....Go Steelers! I am a Pennsylvania native.....
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