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[shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 19, 2011 11:12AM
Washing machine/dryer making very odd noises.
Lights rapidly dimming/getting much brighter than normal.
Smoke here and there.
Touching circuit breaker box causes shock
Lights popping, blowing

Neighbor came by last night describing this sort of stuff. She cleared out of her house and called 911. They sent a freaking flotilla---2 LSVs, 3 fire trucks, 2 cop cars. No fire. Another neighbor had managed to cut power to the house at the box with rubber gloves. Jeebus!

Her ex stopped by and said she needs to have her water turned off as a result.

So, what? Did the breaker or switch that has each 110 leg coming into the house physically come apart and send one or both legs down the neutral side, or simply combine to send 220 throughout the house?

No report yet on how much stuff got ruined. I worry about what damage can't yet be seen from inside the walls.
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: ztirffritz
Date: August 19, 2011 11:14AM
Yikes! That would be scary.



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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: TheTominator
Date: August 19, 2011 11:15AM
Did she recently start construction on a pool in her backyard and discovered bodies of Native Americans?
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: DeusxMac
Date: August 19, 2011 11:20AM
"They're here..."
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: Chakravartin
Date: August 19, 2011 11:28AM
'Had similar symptoms at my house when I was a kid.

'Turned out that the cable guy had stopped by for some still-unknown reason, disconnected the house-ground and connected it to a power-line.

The cable company paid to replace all of our electronics with nary a fuss.
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: decay
Date: August 19, 2011 11:29AM
solar flares



---
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: TheCaber
Date: August 19, 2011 11:30AM
My guess: her fears are groundless. Literally.


Someone, somewhere, lost the earth ground connection. Could be her house, could be a neighbor sharing the same stepdown transformer. She needs an electrician, stat, to check out her house wiring, and the power company's electrician to check the wiring from the transformer to the house.

I hope she's OK, and no one else in the neighborhood gets hurt.



=TC
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: OWC Jamie
Date: August 19, 2011 11:35AM
Yep, ground could be broken, the ground rod outside could be bone dry (no moisture in the soil), or what I saw one time (really scary) - the ground settled in a subdivision, pulling about 3 or 4 houses incoming electrical underground wires REALLY taut - breaking the electrical meter plastic mounting tabs off of the metal chassis and causing it to twist and pull a live metal tab into the outside casing of the electrical meter.

Pulling the meter would do nothing in that situation either - it had to be cut at the transformer because it was the incoming side of the line that was coming into contact with the meter base.

Guess what. The house was aluminum siding. Once that happened, everything metal was shocking. Burned the nails right off the siding in spots even.

Let's just say there's some investigation to do - and it'll be interesting to hear what the cause was.



Good Luck!
Jamie Dresser
Other World Computing
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: JPK
Date: August 19, 2011 11:48AM
Hamsters on treadmill not running fast enough? This could cause a voltage drop dangerous to the electrical equipment you described.

JPK
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 19, 2011 11:56AM
She does have an electrician stopping by sometime today. Presumably he'll either see the problem at the house or suggest the County be brought in to investigate. Hadn't thought of the transformer-to-house link and ground; that seems just as plausible, if not moreso than anything wrong with her house. Neighbors haven't reported any problems.
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: numbered
Date: August 19, 2011 12:16PM
My neighbor had something like this happen. Blew out every light, fried refrigerator compressor, etc. Turned out that your mention of 220 was right: a limb had shorted both 110s and made the house 220. Easy to fix, expensive to replace everything. Insurance covered her.
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: Paul F.
Date: August 19, 2011 12:24PM
My money is on a bad ground, or a short like numbered describes.

Have her leave the main breaker OFF until the electrician arrives unless she wants to replace everything electrical in her house... plus maybe have the house burn down..



Paul F.
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Good is the enemy of Excellent. Talent is not necessary for Excellence.
Persistence is necessary for Excellence. And Persistence is a Decision.

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Eureka, CA
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: pqrst
Date: August 19, 2011 12:33PM
Wow, she is lucky to have not been injured. Tell her to go directly to an experienced electrician! How old is the house?
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: Black
Date: August 19, 2011 01:28PM
Bad ground somewhere. No way to tell from your description but everything acting funny could be on the same circuit.

My electrician treated me to such a show about two years ago, but only for about 20 seconds. All I lost was a few protected power strips, but that could have been the beginning of the end for my router.




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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 19, 2011 02:31PM
Still no word. (I'll tell her you're all concerned.) She did say last night the jolt she got from her hand touching the box zapped her LEG pretty good.

Houses here are between 16-25 yrs old. All electrical is underground; no poles with transformers etc.
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: OWC Jamie
Date: August 19, 2011 02:48PM
Yeesh. Damp basement?



Good Luck!
Jamie Dresser
Other World Computing
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: deckeda
Date: August 19, 2011 03:14PM
I should never have suggested converting that basement into a swimming pool, you're saying?
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: OWC Jamie
Date: August 19, 2011 04:00PM
No, just wondering if damp floor, if so that reinforces the ground theory.



Good Luck!
Jamie Dresser
Other World Computing
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: Black
Date: August 19, 2011 04:21PM
Quote
OWC Jamie
No, just wondering if damp floor, if so that reinforces the ground theory.

Ground theory has never been scientifically proven.




New forum user map 8/2015: [www.zeemaps.com]
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: Bill in NC
Date: August 19, 2011 07:10PM
Sure it wasn't the limb knocking the overhead wires (14kV here) onto the lines running into the service head?

Not that uncommon - the only thing that helps is a panel-mounted whole house protector (glad my service is underground)
Quote
numbered
My neighbor had something like this happen. Blew out every light, fried refrigerator compressor, etc. Turned out that your mention of 220 was right: a limb had shorted both 110s and made the house 220. Easy to fix, expensive to replace everything. Insurance covered her.
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Re: [shocking discovery] What would cause a house's electrical grid to do this?
Posted by: pbarra1
Date: August 21, 2011 04:53PM
Had that happen to me in last house. While updating the service panel to 200 amps from 100 amps (electrician did the work), public service had to run an additional drop line from the pole and while connecting to the house made some sort of mistake connecting the wires which doubled every circuit to 220. It was intermittent. The ceiling fans ran at hyperspeed, the outlets tested at 110 then 220 then 110 etc. Eventually the tv made these popping noises (capacitors) followed by sizzling and smoke. They cam out that night and corrected the problem. All I lost was an old TV.
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