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'[EE]: Whole house electricity cleaner?'
2002\01\17@182313 by Brandon Fosdick

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I have a house with very dirty electricity. At night I can watch the lights
slowly dim and brighten. I'm not talking about the normal surges you see when
turning on a vaccuum cleaner, shop tool, or other high current appliance. This
is a fairly continuous, but random, fluctuation. The period of the fluctuations
seems to range from a few tens of seconds to a few minutes. So far I can't find
anything in the house that would be causing power surges like that. The power
company has come out (during the day when its less obvious) and they think I'm
nuts. The funny thing is that the house is only about 10 miles from a nuclear
power plant (North Anna, Virginia, USA for the curious), so you'd think I'd be
getting the good stuff.

Does anybody have any idea what might cause this? Or anyway to fix it? I've seen
whole house surge protectors on the internet, will that help any?

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2002\01\17@184255 by Greg Hayward

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Brandon,
I have a friend that had a problem like this and it was traced back to the screws
clamping the incoming power lines. The screw and cable connections in the fuse box
had loosened over the years. This resulted in a varying voltage drops across the
connection that was effected by temperature changes.
This is something that you would what an electrical contractor to look at.

Brandon Fosdick wrote:

{Quote hidden}

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2002\01\17@185245 by mooseman

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sounds like you have more of a line sag rather than a surge.
surge protectors are to clip the spikes of high voltage.

i don't know about the power company in your area, but here we can request
the company put a line monitor on the pole. this is basically a data logger
that tracks the freq, voltage peaks, valleys and average load etc.

i think if they find nothing then they try to charge for it, but usually, if
you can see your lights going dim etc then there is something going on the
line.

the other thing is what is the circuiting like in your house? too many things
on one circuit? some older houses had fewer circuits and consequently lights
and plugs and whatever else would get strung along daisy-chain like.

of course to make this somewhat PIC related, perhaps you could put together
your own line monitor. get it to log from say, your dryer plug or other two
pole circuit so you can get both legs that way. if you get it set up to be
able to spit out the data in such a way that you can print it as a graph and
then go talk to the power company..... graphs can be _very_persuasive.

they may try to say your instruments are off.... tell them to prove it.

my two cents worth.

moose.


On Thursday 17 January 2002 18:22, you wrote:
{Quote hidden}

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2002\01\17@185321 by Robert A. LaBudde

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At 06:22 PM 1/17/02 -0500, you wrote:
>I have a house with very dirty electricity. At night I can watch the lights
>slowly dim and brighten. I'm not talking about the normal surges you see when
>turning on a vaccuum cleaner, shop tool, or other high current appliance. This
>is a fairly continuous, but random, fluctuation. The period of the
>fluctuations
>seems to range from a few tens of seconds to a few minutes. So far I can't
>find
>anything in the house that would be causing power surges like that. The power
>company has come out (during the day when its less obvious) and they think I'm
>nuts. The funny thing is that the house is only about 10 miles from a nuclear
>power plant (North Anna, Virginia, USA for the curious), so you'd think I'd be
>getting the good stuff.
>
>Does anybody have any idea what might cause this? Or anyway to fix it?
>I've seen
>whole house surge protectors on the internet, will that help any?

Check the neutral and ground. You may have different voltages on different
circuits. This can happen if the exterior cable is damaged. E.g., buried
cable which is corroded.

================================================================
Robert A. LaBudde, PhD, PAS, Dpl. ACAFS  e-mail: .....ralKILLspamspam@spam@lcfltd.com
Least Cost Formulations, Ltd.            URL: http://lcfltd.com/
824 Timberlake Drive                     Tel: 757-467-0954
Virginia Beach, VA 23464-3239            Fax: 757-467-2947

"Vere scire est per causas scire"
================================================================

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2002\01\17@185327 by brandon

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At my old house, the incomming power lines started breaking from swinging in the wind. We had large power fluctuations and also some very large sparks at the telephone pole. :^)

Brandon Irwin

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--- Greg Hayward <ghaywardspamKILLspamCASPIANNETWORKS.COM> wrote:
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2002\01\17@191317 by Kelly Kohls

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Brandon,

Make certain that the neutral between your utility pole and the house hasn't
come loose.  This happened to me several years ago.

Kelly Kohls, N5TLE
Dallas, TX
http://www.qsl.net/n5tle/
There's never enough time to do it right, but plenty of time to do it over.

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2002\01\17@233942 by Hugh Prescott

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Had something like that when I built my first Altair, it kept dumping
programs during the night.

We were almost the last house on a rural Missouri REA operation.

Called them, you got a what in your house??

They believed me, as I had worked with them getting power to a new hospital
x-ray system i was installing at a local hospital.

Turned out to be an autotransformer up stream that had blown the power
resistor that carries the load during the switching from one tap to another.
These things were regulating 13KV AC

With the blown bypass resistor the downstream voltage just dropped out when
the mechanical switch stepped.

Power company did not like to work on these regulators because of the
voltage and need for a stepped load to test them.

The reason it occurred at night was the daytime load was dropping after
supper till midnight and the voltage started to rise so the autotransformer
started stepping. Same thing happens in the morning in reverse.

Hugh



{Original Message removed}

2002\01\18@110357 by Brandon Fosdick

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"Robert A. LaBudde" wrote:
> Check the neutral and ground. You may have different voltages on different
> circuits. This can happen if the exterior cable is damaged. E.g., buried
> cable which is corroded.

Exterior cable damage could be a possibility. The power co installation
guys weren't too swift, and there's a lot of construction in the
neighborhood. How would I check for that?

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2002\01\18@110412 by Brandon Fosdick

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Greg Hayward wrote:
>
> Brandon,
> I have a friend that had a problem like this and it was traced back to the screws
> clamping the incoming power lines. The screw and cable connections in the fuse box
> had loosened over the years. This resulted in a varying voltage drops across the
> connection that was effected by temperature changes.
> This is something that you would what an electrical contractor to look at.

I hadn't thought about checking for loose screws. I'll take a look this
weekend.

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2002\01\18@131632 by gacrowell

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Yup, happened to me on a house only a couple of years old.  Flickering
lights occasionally, then finally one phase went out completely.  Called the
power company and they pulled the meter.  The connections to the meter base
had been loose, and had eventually burned out the meter base connections
completely.  Had to replace the service entry box.

GC

> {Original Message removed}

2002\01\18@153028 by Gary Crum

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My friend had a similar thing happen to him and it took forever to figure
out what was causing it

The power came from the pole and to the outside of the house, that's where
his screws came loose, not at the actual fuse box
you could see the arching on the contacts, which produced the intermitent
power on/off

ah,,,,, but be carefull not to fry yourself when fixing it



{Original Message removed}

2002\01\18@201530 by Reginald Neale

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>I have a house with very dirty electricity. At night I can watch the lights
>slowly dim and brighten. I'm not talking about the normal surges you see when
>turning on a vaccuum cleaner, shop tool, or other high current appliance. This
>is a fairly continuous, but random, fluctuation. The period of the
>fluctuations
>seems to range from a few tens of seconds to a few minutes. So far I
>can't find
>anything in the house that would be causing power surges like that. The power
>company has come out (during the day when its less obvious) and they think I'm
>nuts. The funny thing is that the house is only about 10 miles from a nuclear
>power plant (North Anna, Virginia, USA for the curious), so you'd think I'd be
>getting the good stuff.
>
Does anybody have any idea what might cause this? Or anyway to fix it?

  For twenty-five years I lived in a decaying Victorian mansion
  that had been wired with knob-and-tube in the 1920s. The service
  entrance had an enormous cartridge fuse inside the house.
  The silver plating on the end caps of this fuse had tarnished
  and resulted in a non-linear resistance in series with the
  power sourced into the house. It caused fluctuations like the
  ones you described. Clue: AC voltage measurement between the fuse
  clips and the metal caps. Pulled out the fuse, polished the end
  caps, reinstalled, kept a sharp eye on it ever after, as this
  could generate heat and be a fire hazard.

  Reg Neale

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2002\01\18@212918 by Barry Gershenfeld

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> At night I can watch the lights
> slowly dim and brighten.

If they measured the voltage at the end of the line and
compensated by raising and lowering it coming from the
generators then folks close by would see a variation
like that.  But I get the impression the power companies
don't ever do it this way.

Enough people have responded with suggestions about
a bad neutral connection that I guess I'd check into
that.  A dead giveaway for this problem
is if the "other half" of your circuits show the
opposite voltage variation corresponding to what you're
seeing now.

Barry

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2002\01\21@045821 by Alan B. Pearce

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>Depending on what other load is on the same transformer (your neighbotrs
>houses, for example) and how unbalanced the load with the floating neutral
>is, and a few other factors, you can see some pretty dramatic swings.

This may be as big a factor in your lighting brightness swings as any of the
other things suggested. If you have a neighbour with any of the faults
suggested so far, especially in the neutral line of a multiple earth neutral
installation, then their neutral current could be coming back up your ground
connection to the supply neutral. Your voltage at the fuseboard will then
vary somewhat according to what the neighbour is doing - imagine what
happens when the washing machine motor switches on and off.

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2002\01\22@170716 by brandon

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So did he ever figure out what it was?

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2002\01\22@195532 by Brandon Fosdick

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Brandon Irwin wrote:
>
> So did he ever figure out what it was?

Not yet. I defended my Masters thesis today so the last week or so has been
hectic and I haven't gotten around to it. Hopefully I'll have a chance this
weekend.

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