View Full Version : Household electricity question
07-11-2004, 07:29 AM
The lights in our house sometimes flicker. Also, when a fan is running, such as the kitchen exahust fan, there is a noticeable drop and rise in the fan speed. This situation occurs randomly and can happen if one light is on, or if lights in every room are on. It can also go days or weeks without happening.
The electric utility checked things from their end, and said there is no problem. I think they checked it during one of the "good" (http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=264037&highlight=delivery) times though. On our end, we have changed the main breaker in the inside box, and assured that the system is properly grounded.
This is on a 200 amp, 110/220 system. My question is, What else can be wrong with the electric.
For the record, we intend to contact a certified electrician to check things out this week or next.
07-11-2004, 07:41 AM
Someone needs to troubleshoot the situation. The problem is likely one of the following:
- bad connection where service connects to breaker box (i.e. a bad connection where hot leg 1, hot leg 2, or neutral connects to breaker box)
- bad main breaker
- bad service cables
- bad connection at transformer
- faulty transformer
- Overloaded transformer (i.e. another home connected to the same transformer is using a lot of current, or switching motors on and off, etc.)
07-11-2004, 08:55 AM
Even though the utility says that everything is ok, my guess is that the problem lies on their side of the main breaker. If each glitch lasts less than one second, then I'd suspect that they're caused when the utility switches feeds at a substation.
07-11-2004, 12:17 PM
I tend to agree that the problem is on the utility side, although the flickering can last for hours at a time. THe breaker box has been gone over fairly well by a non-certified electrician, and we found only a cracked lug on the main breaker. Thanks for the replies, I will try to post a folowup when the electrician visits.
07-11-2004, 03:34 PM
A certain amount of fluctuation is normal for electrical service. Loads will be switched on and off the line all day long. The cause could be long wires in your own house. These wires have a certain amount of resistance to them (since they aren't superconductors) so the voltage near the end of the wire can drop a fair bit. You might notice for example that your lights flicker every time your fridge kicks on and off, or your kitchen fan runs slower when the clothes dryer is on. That's normal.
If it's a bit excessive though, it can indicate a major problem somewhere. Usually it means that there is part of the circuit somewhere that isn't conducting as much electricity as it should. This could be anything. It could be a bad connection at the pole. It could be a damaged wire. I had a problem in my house where the connector inside the electrical meter wasn't making good contact (and found out that while the company owns the meter, I apparently own the base it sits in and had to pay for the repair... grrr....). Have the electrician look for connections that just don't look right. Usually if something isn't conducting well, it heats up and gets discolored.
07-11-2004, 03:58 PM
When that happens to me, there's usually a tree limb somewhere along the way that brushes against the power line when the wind blows. When the utility company is doing a good job of maintaining the right of way (as they are at present), I don't have a problem. Of course, this type problem is more likely in a rural area than in a large city.
07-11-2004, 05:07 PM
Could be a bad neutral between the transformer and house. We just had that happen (the neutral was loose at the transformer) and it caused all sorts of bizarre power fluctuations. We had a hell of a time convincing the power company that it was there was a problem.
07-12-2004, 06:20 AM
There is quite a bit of fluctuation. When a large appliance comes on, there is a noticeable drop in illumination. When the washer is running, it sometimes looks as if someone is rapidly flipping the light switches off and on. But, even when a light is the only item on, they still flicker.
I will check on the tree thing.
As for the neutral, it appears to be ok on our end. I will have to wait for the electrician to tell for sure.
Thanks to all.
07-13-2004, 01:09 AM
Also, when a fan is running, such as the kitchen exahust fan, there is a noticeable drop and rise in the fan speed. This one can be as simple as a wind outside that either slows down or speeds up the fan. This happens occasionally to my kitchen exhaust fan, and it doesn't have anything to do with the electricity.
But the flickering lights, those do indicate a problem.
vBulletin® v3.7.3, Copyright ©2000-2013, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.