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Old 02-08-2017, 10:04 PM   #1
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Default Voltage issues with residential service

Hello all,

I have a friend of mine who received a shock when cutting a copper pipe going out to a detached living quarters. Dedicated electrical service, water is coming from the main house though. I went over to investigate and read the voltage on one leg of his 120/240V service at 40V, the other at 200V. I searched for a ground rod and found at least 1 under the panel. I couldn't tell if there was a second one, though the wire continued on after the first. After I figured out there was at least that part of the grounding electrode, I disconnected the bond wire to the water coming in from the main house. Voltage was then 0V on one leg, 240V on the other. I read the voltage in the main house and it was 120V to ground for each leg, so I don't think there's a problem with the utility side. I took a reading at the spot in the water supply he redid and it was 80V from the house main house side to the coupled piece he used to patch the pipe.

Is this just an example of why a detached living quarters needs to have a dedicated water supply as well, or anyone know what I'm dealing with here? All load side connections appeared tight at meter box and breaker panel.

Any help or advice is appreciated. I'm stumped.
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:14 PM   #2
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I think you've lost your noodle............
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:14 PM   #3
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The neutral in the feeder between the house and suite is open. This is not a grounding issue. It has nothing to do with ground rods. The neutral is the issue.
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:15 PM   #4
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Forget about the grounds. You have a floating neutral.
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:31 PM   #5
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The neutral in the feeder between the house and suite is open. This is not a grounding issue. It has nothing to do with ground rods. The neutral is the issue.
Dedicated electrical service. No feeders. I thought it was a floating neutral, too, but the connections all looked tight. I couldn't get the Allan to fit into the neutral in the panel (thanks to the last person in) so I had to settle for the jiggle test.

The readings were consistent throughout whole system.
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:34 PM   #6
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Then it's loose somewhere else. The symptoms all point to an open neutral.
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:36 PM   #7
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Dedicated electrical service. No feeders. I thought it was a floating neutral, too, but the connections all looked tight. I couldn't get the Allan to fit into the neutral in the panel (thanks to the last person in) so I had to settle for the jiggle test.

The readings were consistent throughout whole system.
If it's an overhead then it's likely at the mast head. But, it could be
anywhere between where you're measuring and the center tap of
the supply transformer.
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:42 PM   #8
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Eo when do we tell him to call an electrician?
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Old 02-08-2017, 10:55 PM   #9
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Originally Posted by ~48~ View Post
Dedicated electrical service. No feeders. I thought it was a floating neutral, too, but the connections all looked tight. I couldn't get the Allan to fit into the neutral in the panel (thanks to the last person in) so I had to settle for the jiggle test.

The readings were consistent throughout whole system.
If its overhead, I bet the POCO splice at the mast has failed or has a very high resistance connection. Current is going via water bond/ gas bond/ ground etc.. back to a nearby service(s) fed by the same POCO transformer.

Same situation has led to energized metal mesh in plaster walls, people removing water meters getting shocked, current on coax/phone wires.

There was a thread here a few years back about a bunch of house fires in Florida from the same situation.
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Old 02-09-2017, 06:12 AM   #10
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Originally Posted by ~48~ View Post
Hello all,

Is this just an example of why a detached living quarters needs to have a dedicated water supply as well, or anyone know what I'm dealing with here? All load side connections appeared tight at meter box and breaker panel.

Any help or advice is appreciated. I'm stumped.

No you're not , and the others are spot on following up 48, bum noodle.....

Having any return path to a mutual Xformer can assume the lions share of N load , given conditions described by you

In fact, part of my personal apprentice training is asking why the arc appears when touching a grounding electrode conductor to a municipal (or any other mettalic back to source) h20 pipe.

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Old 02-09-2017, 06:42 AM   #11
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Eo when do we tell him to call an electrician?
Go to your room.
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Old 02-09-2017, 07:01 AM   #12
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True or false:

Quote:
When you have voltage on the ground electrode system, pipes, etc., it can be a number of things.

When you see voltages that aren't 120, but add up to 240, you have an open neutral.
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Old 02-09-2017, 07:10 AM   #13
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If its overhead, I bet the POCO splice at the mast has failed or has a very high resistance connection. Current is going via water bond/ gas bond/ ground etc.. back to a nearby service(s) fed by the same POCO transformer.

Same situation has led to energized metal mesh in plaster walls, people removing water meters getting shocked, current on coax/phone wires.

There was a thread here a few years back about a bunch of house fires in Florida from the same situation.
People call all of the time about voltage problems.
I tell them to call FPL and tell them your electrician said it was on their side.
More than 80% of the time it's a rotten service entrance splice.
Some of them are bad Smart Meters where it turns off only one side.
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Old 02-09-2017, 07:15 AM   #14
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True or false:
True

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Old 02-09-2017, 07:22 PM   #15
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Another vote for a neutral problem. Classic symptoms.
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Old 02-09-2017, 07:55 PM   #16
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So I know it's possible, but is it likely that when the water pipe removal incident occurred it created a surge event on the neutral? I'm guessing the event was before the guy got shocked since there was an abnormal amount of voltage going to ground when it occurred.
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Old 02-09-2017, 08:16 PM   #17
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So I know it's possible, but is it likely that when the water pipe removal incident occurred it created a surge event on the neutral? I'm guessing the event was before the guy got shocked since there was an abnormal amount of voltage going to ground when it occurred.
So you think everything was fine, but you had a massive amount of current flowing on your GEC ?
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Old 02-09-2017, 10:53 PM   #18
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So I know it's possible, but is it likely that when the water pipe removal incident occurred it created a surge event on the neutral? I'm guessing the event was before the guy got shocked since there was an abnormal amount of voltage going to ground when it occurred.
The voltage appeared on the copper pipe when it was cut because the pipe was acting as the neutral. As soon as the cut occurred, the circuit was opened. When he touched both sides of the pipe, he got shocked because he completed the circuit through his body.

There was no surge event. If the lugs that you can check are good, then the problem is either in the line coming to the house, or the transformer itself. Call the utility and tell them you have an open neutral on their side. They don't usually drag their feet on this kind of call.
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Old 02-09-2017, 11:24 PM   #19
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Utility came out and addressed the issue. The neutral separated in the service drop. Kudos and gratitude to everyone.
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Old 02-17-2017, 02:30 PM   #20
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When I moved into the house I live in now, we had issues for about 6-8 months with incandescent lamps poppin' like popcorn. It was getting expensive, and ticking me off. I knew I had a voltage problem, but I was having trouble finding it. I would normally read close to 130V from line to neutral. Every now and then, my wife would call and tell me that power to half of the house had gone out. I suspected a bad transformer connection. About 2AM one morning I woke to the sound of my smoke detectors making all sorts of racket. They weren't alarming, but making a weird buzzing sound. I jumped out of bed (early January, about 30 deg outside) and realized half of the power to the house was out. Grabbed a meter and ran outside, and yanked the cover off of the panel for the house, and found one leg was dead. Called the power company, and a lineman showed up about an hour later. By that time, power had come back on. Lineman was ticked off, but I told him what I'd seen. He drove his bucket truck into my backyard and inspected the pole-mount transformer, and found a mess. When he tried to pull the primary fuse, the fuse, fuse holder, and leads all crumbled to pieces and fell on the ground. The secondary side was no better. Crusty, corroded, green connections on both legs and neutral. He cleaned it all up, reterminated everything, and I never had another lick of trouble out of it.
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