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Close friend of mine offered me $5000 to fix one of the most craziest electrical issue I never knew existed

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So, for a year now a close friend of mine has had some really strange issue. Any device he plugs into his house gets ruined and gets damaged.

He’s spent 10k+ on computers.. the last time he came over with a new PC before he plugged it into his house to see if it worked, it did.. then @ his house it turned bad, brought it to mine and boom.. broke

His outlets are all fine. Even used a UPS. Stable 115V-120V voltage, no surging, circuits aren’t overloaded, grounded etc. The regular checks all show it should be good.

He keeps talking about possible line noise interference/ EMI. I never learned that.

Has anyone ever heard or dealt with this kind of issue or has experience with RFI/EMI? Really want to help the guy as I see how this is affecting him but I don’t know what to do.
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Is this a house in a subdivision or rural country?
Near a substation?

Forget the RFI/EMI and look for the loose neutral, I'd put money on that, at the utility transformer, meter, panel, and branch circuits in that order.

Get a large heater or several and connect to a CB at the panel one leg at a time, let it run, and watch voltage with your DMM for 5000 I'll come to fix it.
 

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You’re going to have to up your test game on this one. A Beast Of Burden or it’s homemade equivalent, and a recording voltmeter are going to be the first go to. Load the fire out of one side to neutral and test, then the other side to neutral. Try this then get back to us.
 

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Is there a voltage selector switch on the equipment and is it in the correct position for the supplied voltage?
I've never seen multi voltage equipment that could use the same cord end. The idea of receptacles and cord ends is to have physical rejection properties such that you can't hook things up to the wrong voltage without rewiring.

For example a 20A 120v cord end won't plug into a 15A 120V outlet and neither will a 240V 20A cord end.

Is there something I'm missing?
 

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I've never seen multi voltage equipment that could use the same cord end. The idea of receptacles and cord ends is to have physical rejection properties such that you can't hook things up to the wrong voltage without rewiring.

For example a 20A 120v cord end won't plug into a 15A 120V outlet and neither will a 240V 20A cord end.

Is there something I'm missing?
Travel adapters.
 

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So, for a year now ...
...

Really want to help the guy as I see how this is affecting him but I don’t know what to do.
How about the time prior? Did he own the place then or did he move in one year ago?

If everything was fine previously, what changed? Did he have a solar system installed? EV charger? Grow op? Bitcoin mining op?

Does the neighbor on the same transformer have any problems?
 

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Estwing magic
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Travel adapters.
A travel adapter only changes the blade configuration. A notebook will work fine on 120, 220 or 240V. I discovered this when I accidentally connected a 120V outlet to a 240V heating circuit. The customer had his computer plugged in and it didn’t even blink. I can tell you I was relieved.

Computer manufacturers will tell you not to use a transformer for cell phones and notebooks when traveling to countries with 220V.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
How about the time prior? Did he own the place then or did he move in one year ago?

If everything was fine previously, what changed? Did he have a solar system installed? EV charger? Grow op? Bitcoin mining op?

Does the neighbor on the same transformer have any problems?
He’s lived there for years. No grow up (unless he ain’t tell me lol) or bitcoin mining stuff or a solar system.

He says a power outage happened around the time he started realizing something was up.
 

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A travel adapter only changes the blade configuration. A notebook will work fine on 120, 220 or 240V. I discovered this when I accidentally connected a 120V outlet to a 240V heating circuit. The customer had his computer plugged in and it didn’t even blink. I can tell you I was relieved.

Computer manufacturers will tell you not to use a transformer for cell phones and notebooks when traveling to countries with 220V.
I concur.

And travel adapters come with warnings not to put 240V on your 120V appliances.
 

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First what is the total load on the house running at.
Something don't add up if it has UPS and surge protection. At $10,000 + in computer stuff I hope he is running good protection not cheap stuff. If it is a loose neutral and voltage changes with load the UPS should cycle at the high/low voltage. Any appliance issues?

How are the computers dyeing, power supply or loss on hardware ( Hard drives, wiping data)
 

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I would start at the beginning. Call the POCO beg or pay for them to put a recording volt and amp meter on the service. After 30 days mysteriously they will fix the problem or give you some data that can help.
You provide no information on the configuration of this service nor any thing else.
Generalities will not help in this situation.

Your going to hate this question. What changed a about a year ago?

Anyone ever do a ground test on the main grounding electrode?
Neutral issues pop into mind,
 

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Hackenschmidt
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I've never seen multi voltage equipment that could use the same cord end. The idea of receptacles and cord ends is to have physical rejection properties such that you can't hook things up to the wrong voltage without rewiring.

For example a 20A 120v cord end won't plug into a 15A 120V outlet and neither will a 240V 20A cord end.

Is there something I'm missing?
This is not the case with the IEC connectors commonly used in IT equipment today. These are often at 208 or 240 in data centers.

A lot of power supplies today will work with <110V and >240V with no switch or jumper setting. But some do not :(
Camera accessory Auto part Cable Font Electronics accessory
 

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So, for a year now a close friend of mine has had some really strange issue. Any device he plugs into his house gets ruined and gets damaged.

He’s spent 10k+ on computers.. the last time he came over with a new PC before he plugged it into his house to see if it worked, it did.. then @ his house it turned bad, brought it to mine and boom.. broke

His outlets are all fine. Even used a UPS. Stable 115V-120V voltage, no surging, circuits aren’t overloaded, grounded etc. The regular checks all show it should be good.

He keeps talking about possible line noise interference/ EMI. I never learned that.

Has anyone ever heard or dealt with this kind of issue or has experience with RFI/EMI? Really want to help the guy as I see how this is affecting him but I don’t know what to do.
THE Most Common problem i have seen in houses or trailers over 10 yrs old is
1) wires plugged into the back of the receptacle instead of under the screw
2) lost neutral. starting from poco supply to the meter, or all the way down to halfway through a circuit after the breaker

if every thing in the house has problems , begin with a call to poco , usually they are free

if it's not there , as mentioned above load one phase with 120V heaters on hi. the reason is this is usually an intermittent problem, doing this will make it obvious
in the first panel, check voltage from phases to neu, they should be within 1 or 2 volts
begin at the meter base and and check incoming neutral all the way to the last panel
look for color change as much as a few inches away from the lug
check for voltage drop (or no more than 1 ohm) from the neutral conductor to downstream of the lug

if you have hertz on your meter, check to see if it is over 61, this will mean start looking for an amazon or ebay, etc. appliance.... 120 or 240,
if you cant find an FCC AND UL stamp it is guilty of using SCR switching and putting out switching pulses/dirty power/harmonics

the cost to buy a filter for it will be more than if he bought good stuff to start with

if any of this gets you the 5K then i want a cut lol
 

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Modern computer power supply wouldn't care about the voltage but a internet switch with poe or internal fault might be enough to let the magic smoke out.

Now im home on a pc rather than a phone i thought i should flesh this out a little.

Lets say your friend is on a transformer with another neighbors. if the neighbor has a bad neutral connection power will try to use the ground. That means power is hunting a return path to the source (the transformer) and the easiest return path may be your friends grounding points.

Things that can act as a shared ground between neighbors like phone lines, cable tv, gas lines, etc can all cause problems.

A quick walk around the home with a amp meter clamping on ground point will give you a clue if something like this is happening. Also stuff fails so suspect everything until proven wrong.
 

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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
First what is the total load on the house running at.
Something don't add up if it has UPS and surge protection. At $10,000 + in computer stuff I hope he is running good protection not cheap stuff. If it is a loose neutral and voltage changes with load the UPS should cycle at the high/low voltage. Any appliance issues?

How are the computers dyeing, power supply or loss on hardware ( Hard drives, wiping data)
That’s the strange part. Nothing like that is happening. The computer seems totally fine, it’s only when he plays games which the computer needs to do more work and compile shaders while gaming. So whatever is going on, it’s ruining that component.

He can play games if it downloads all that stuff @ the beginning, but he also told me when it first happened he was getting a blurry monitor if he would move his mouse while playing games but it went away.

He has good stuff connected to it. UPS AVR battery backup, plus a furman power conditioner.

OUTLET-> UPS -> POWER CONDITIONER -> PC

Had it connected that way when he plugged it in for the first time and showed me. Not the internet either since it happens offline. So im left baffled, can’t find anything that can explain it if its going through both of those and still ruining his computer.
 
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