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Jan 20, 2020 - 11:38:52 AM
1191 posts since 11/3/2008

Yesterday our dryer and water heater quit working. Also have a 120 circuit in the kitchen acting up. The frig light is very dim and the microwave won't work correctly. I checked the voltage on all the individual breaker lugs they all read 117v. If I check the voltage on the 2 power wires that go into the main breaker I get 117 on each but if I check them together I get 35 volts which should be 117x2 or 240v. Any electricians on the hangout?

Jan 20, 2020 - 11:43:09 AM

1191 posts since 11/3/2008

I also noticed if I turn off the breaker to the hot water heater which is 240v 20amp breaker a 120 outlet in the bathroom turns off with it.

Jan 20, 2020 - 12:29:17 PM
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DRH

USA

194 posts since 5/29/2018
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I had a similar problem years ago. It turned out to be a pole transformer going bad, specifically a winding insulation failure. Ground tap failure can cause similar issues.

You need to have this checked by the power company. Total failure will usually burn the fuse at the pole. Before it gets there you run the risk of line voltage entering your home. Line voltage in our case was 14,400 volts.

EDIT: if turning off a 240 breaker turns off a 120V outlet you may have wiring problems in your main panel.

Edited by - DRH on 01/20/2020 12:33:30

Jan 20, 2020 - 12:44:50 PM
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figmo59

USA

29859 posts since 3/5/2008

Beleave it or not...
But mice can really buggerup...an electrical system...
The jump across poles... n ..short out...

Tesla's bettah mouse trap I guess... :0/

Lots of barns burn down from that too....

Jan 20, 2020 - 1:15:58 PM
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KyBanjo

USA

488 posts since 2/15/2004

you most likely have one leg of your service that is lose in the breaker box. Electricity cycles back and forth. This causes mi-nute vibrations and the lugs will lose tension on them causing an arc of sort which shorts to ground and reason for the lower voltage on one or both legs. you need to check there first. Make sure all breakers are tight including the main breaker.

As for your light and water heater issue, it is simply tied into one side of the water heater circuit.

Jan 20, 2020 - 1:16:36 PM
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Brian T

Canada

16046 posts since 6/5/2008

That much of such an odd power loss and weird readings, get on the horn with the power company. Far easier to replace than to wait for it to blow up.

As a kid, I knew that mice could chew the insulation off wiring in any of the farm buildings.
Really hard to keep them out of the electricals.
Kept the kitchen stove matches in a metal cannister with a metal lid.
Those were the old "strike anywhere" matches.
Decades later with a cottage at the lake, I still checked everything for mouse damage.

Jan 20, 2020 - 1:58:37 PM
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10896 posts since 6/17/2003

Since you have power at the legs into the panel, I would investigate for a bad breaker, or breaker contact to the panel bar, and also verify the system ground. Sometimes a grounding clamp to the pipe to the exterior or the ground rod outside will corrode or become loose. All kinds of strange things happen then.

Jan 20, 2020 - 4:16:21 PM

3270 posts since 12/6/2009

with out being there it sounds like you lost your 240 volt power feed on one leg.. things are dim because your getting a back feed through the windings of a 240 volt circuit with only one side energized. you may even get a 120 reading on an outlet or a circuit but when it draws it may draw it down quite a bit heating what ever it is trying to draw....get someone there to check it out before you heat something up and cause a fire or burn out an appliance ...tv....fans....anything electronic...computer etc.....you could even try the power company it maybe their fault. how ever a bad ground could possibly but that would mean you would have a bad neutral feed....meaning the power id looking for a neutral and wants the ground......ground rarely disrupts if the feed and neutral  are sound. Id say you lost a leg of your 240 2 wire feed. easy to check for someone who knows what their doing.....shut off all circuits and then put tester across the 2 feed wires from the street to the panel main. or one wire at a time to the neutral bar.

Edited by - overhere on 01/20/2020 16:29:34

Jan 20, 2020 - 11:07:02 PM

1191 posts since 11/3/2008

OK I checked the voltage at the meter 118 v on each wire and 236 together. At the breaker box in the house main breaker I consistently get 117 volts on one wire and anywhere between 65 and 117 on the other wire. But when I check them both together I get 45 volts not 236. I'm using a digital multimeter on the 200 and 600 ac settings.

Edited by - DENNISNDODIE on 01/20/2020 23:10:10

Jan 21, 2020 - 7:18:35 PM
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9013 posts since 8/22/2006

May be a pain but as you are testing voltage at the main breaker start turn other breaker off and see if your readings change. Does your breaker box smell like a dead mouse? If so your breakers are going bad and the oil inside is get hot. No kidding we had this problem.

Jan 21, 2020 - 9:35:37 PM
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CamC

Canada

297 posts since 7/12/2012

My guess would be a loose connection on the main lugs. Maybe aluminum wire oxidizing.

Jan 23, 2020 - 3:55:54 AM

3270 posts since 12/6/2009

have you shut off all circuit breakers and checked with just the main breaker on the main bars? It still sounds to me like a dead leg on the feed...also check each leg to neutral.....
Actually I hope you found it by now.

Jan 23, 2020 - 7:18:20 AM
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14535 posts since 12/2/2005

quote:
Originally posted by figmo59


Tesla's bettah mouse trap
 


In that I can't screw the top back on a rum bottle without crossing the threads, I'll refrain from offering electrical advice.

But that would be one helluva good name for a band....

Jan 23, 2020 - 8:29:33 AM
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1672 posts since 2/10/2003

quote:
Originally posted by DENNISNDODIE

I also noticed if I turn off the breaker to the hot water heater which is 240v 20amp breaker a 120 outlet in the bathroom turns off with it.


Hot water heaters and bathroom receptacles both require dedicated circuits.  Are you saying that if you turn off the breaker for the hot water heater, it trips the 120V breaker for the bathroom receptacle, or are you saying that turning off the breaker for the hot water also cuts power to the bathroom receptacle. If it is the later, the circuit for the bathroom receptacle may either be double tapped to one leg of the hot water heater breaker, or tied to one leg of the feed to the hot water heater at a junction box or the like.  This should be remedied. If you have space in the panel, put the bathroom receptacle(s) on its own 120V 20amp breaker.  Easy if it is a double tap, if it is tied in down the line, you would have to run more wire.  That being said, the bathroom receptacles should be fed by 12 ga wire.  If is is smaller. Then you need a complete rewire of this circuit. You cannot put a 20A breaker on a 14ga circuit and bathrooms require 20A circuits. If it is the former situation where cutting of the power to the water heater trips the breaker for the bathroom receptacle, then you more then likely have a problem with a short in the panel. The problems you are having in the panel and with the bathroom receptacle could be two different issues, depending on what is happening when you turn off the water heater breaker. 

Jan 24, 2020 - 11:56:14 AM

tmercks

USA

743 posts since 3/7/2006

quote:
Originally posted by overhere

with out being there it sounds like you lost your 240 volt power feed on one leg.. things are dim because your getting a back feed through the windings of a 240 volt circuit with only one side energized. you may even get a 120 reading on an outlet or a circuit but when it draws it may draw it down quite a bit heating what ever it is trying to draw....get someone there to check it out before you heat something up and cause a fire or burn out an appliance ...tv....fans....anything electronic...computer etc.....you could even try the power company it maybe their fault. how ever a bad ground could possibly but that would mean you would have a bad neutral feed....meaning the power id looking for a neutral and wants the ground......ground rarely disrupts if the feed and neutral  are sound. Id say you lost a leg of your 240 2 wire feed. easy to check for someone who knows what their doing.....shut off all circuits and then put tester across the 2 feed wires from the street to the panel main. or one wire at a time to the neutral bar.


I was thinking the same. It's called "single phasing", where you lose one 120 side of your 240, and it back feeds. The Electricians used to have this happen at the airbase where I worked, and would immediately shut the entire system down until it could be fixed. Quite the hazard. 

In any case, I would report a potential problem to the power company and have a tech come out and check the pole/transformer first to make sure it isn't their problem.  Then they may be able to advise you. They won't fix anything in your house, but they love to talk about it for sure.

Feb 2, 2020 - 4:54:07 AM
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3270 posts since 12/6/2009

quote:
Originally posted by 250gibson
quote:
Originally posted by DENNISNDODIE

I also noticed if I turn off the breaker to the hot water heater which is 240v 20amp breaker a 120 outlet in the bathroom turns off with it.


Hot water heaters and bathroom receptacles both require dedicated circuits.  Are you saying that if you turn off the breaker for the hot water heater, it trips the 120V breaker for the bathroom receptacle, or are you saying that turning off the breaker for the hot water also cuts power to the bathroom receptacle. If it is the later, the circuit for the bathroom receptacle may either be double tapped to one leg of the hot water heater breaker, or tied to one leg of the feed to the hot water heater at a junction box or the like.  This should be remedied. If you have space in the panel, put the bathroom receptacle(s) on its own 120V 20amp breaker.  Easy if it is a double tap, if it is tied in down the line, you would have to run more wire.  That being said, the bathroom receptacles should be fed by 12 ga wire.  If is is smaller. Then you need a complete rewire of this circuit. You cannot put a 20A breaker on a 14ga circuit and bathrooms require 20A circuits. If it is the former situation where cutting of the power to the water heater trips the breaker for the bathroom receptacle, then you more then likely have a problem with a short in the panel. The problems you are having in the panel and with the bathroom receptacle could be two different issues, depending on what is happening when you turn off the water heater breaker. 


i think what we are implying is...if you understand how something like a water heater circuit works you'd understand ,....i'll try,... a water heater has a rwo pole breaker which means its sending current down two wires from the two seperate sides of the electric panel. now, if one side of the panel loses power then the one wire that goes to the water heater with current will go through the water heater eliment and back to the side of the panel that has lost its power....but enough where a meter would pick up voltage but not enough to be useable but still readable or even sometimes enough to give a small device enough power to operate...so by turning all double pole breakers off....then that dead side of the panel would be prevented from getting the return reduced power through those 220 volt circuits.....then one would know the panel lost half its power with a dead leg....from there they would hav eto check main breaker or power coming into the house from power company.

Feb 2, 2020 - 6:24:56 PM

1115 posts since 4/22/2018

So you have 110v and 240v supplies into houses in the US? I didn’t know that, I assumed you were on 110v throughout. ... is the 240v for specific devices ?

Feb 2, 2020 - 7:35:13 PM

9013 posts since 8/22/2006

Higher voltage = more amps

More amps= more household appliances and outlets.

Feb 3, 2020 - 3:57:03 AM

3270 posts since 12/6/2009

quote:
Originally posted by Wet Spaniel

So you have 110v and 240v supplies into houses in the US? I didn’t know that, I assumed you were on 110v throughout. ... is the 240v for specific devices ?


 

generally the home devices and appliances for 220 volt are heavier appliances that need the advantage of 220/240 like water heaters/ well pumps/ electric dryers , heating equipment, stoves and cooking ranges.etc...they operate more efficiently with the 220 volts. regular lighting and receptacle plugs are not allowed 220 by code...our system is A/C current. I guess they figure that will kill you faster then DC ???? ...Is all UK house power 240 volt DC/AC ? I forgot.

Feb 3, 2020 - 5:59:24 AM

1115 posts since 4/22/2018

quote:
Originally posted by overhere
quote:
Originally posted by Wet Spaniel

So you have 110v and 240v supplies into houses in the US? I didn’t know that, I assumed you were on 110v throughout. ... is the 240v for specific devices ?


 

generally the home devices and appliances for 220 volt are heavier appliances that need the advantage of 220/240 like water heaters/ well pumps/ electric dryers , heating equipment, stoves and cooking ranges.etc...they operate more efficiently with the 220 volts. regular lighting and receptacle plugs are not allowed 220 by code...our system is A/C current. I guess they figure that will kill you faster then DC ???? ...Is all UK house power 240 volt DC/AC ? I forgot.


It's 230v AC for everything in the domestic household.  Obviously it goes through a consumer unit/fuse board/breaker to restrict certain circuits to specified amperages 

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