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Home electrical problem

Discussion in 'Electronic Repair' started by thomas rush, Nov 16, 2005.

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  1. thomas rush

    thomas rush Guest

    [First -- I didn't see a better group to post this
    question... if one exists, I'd appreciate a pointer...
    but I've found that this group will deal with almost
    any electrical issue!]

    Hi, all.

    I've got a problem with my home electical system, and
    was hoping to get a pointer from the group before I
    scheduled a service call.

    A 10-year-old house in the US with standard 110
    wiring, no known electrical or wiring problems
    before this. Home is currently vacant, but
    everything worked when my family and I were living
    there with all the normal drains of computer,
    microwaves, electonics, refrigerator, A/C....

    What's happening:
    I noticed a few days ago that the first floor A/C
    system did not seem to be cooling, but I didn't have
    time then to check it out. When I went back to
    investigate yesterday, I found that the unit blower
    would be on but the air wasn't coming out cold.

    I noticed an unusual dimming of the living room
    lights when the A/C unit came on -- not just a
    temporary dip-then-back-up, but a noticeable drop
    to maybe 2/3 brightness that didn't come back up

    I checked and all circuit breakers seemed to be
    set -- but I flipped them off and reset them to
    'on' anyway. Back in the house, when I turned
    the A/C unit back on, the same bank of lights
    that dimmed before with A/C operation (living
    room et al.) now wouldn't come on at all! They
    did eventually come back on, but it was after I
    went outside to reset the single-throw breakers,
    and I believe it took several minutes even after
    I turned the A/C off (these are standard
    incandescent bulbs, not fluorescent or halogen).

    I went in to the attic and didn't see anything
    strange with the heater/AC blower unit, fwiw.
    I believe that the HVAC system is on a separate
    circuit from the 110v circuits that feed the
    lights in the house.

    Puzzled and without a flashlight to see in to
    the breaker box or look at the outside cooler
    enclosures (the grills with fan in the center), I
    turned the HVAC system off at the thermostat
    and left.

    I'm a bit confused by the behaviour of the lights,
    which have never acted this way before. What
    would the group's guesses be as to cause? Is it
    possible that it is just a breaker is going bad?
    What would you do as next steps?

    I appreciate your suggestions.

    SelfGovern at Yahoo dot Com.
  2. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    The central A/C should be 240v, you can verify this by looking at the
    breaker for it, which would be double pole, usually there's two separate
    levers connected with a bridge though some have a single lever on a
    double wide body. If that's the case, I suspect one whole side of the
    panel may have a poor connection, take the cover off and look at the
    heavy wires coming in at the top where they connect to the main and
    touch the insulated portion near the main breaker to see if they're
    warm. A common problem here is the lugs work loose and you get a poor
    connection, but it could also be outside in the sealed meter box, where
    the wires splice at the weather head (if overhead wiring), or out at the
    transformer on the pole or in a box, the latter of which you'd need to
    call the utility, if it's on their side of the meter they'll fix it for
    free. If the lugs in the panel are loose, you can carefully use a
    screwdriver to tighten them, being sure to only touch the plastic
    handle, wearing gloves is a good idea too. I normally check mine every
    few years just to make sure since we had a meltdown in the service panel
    of the house I grew up in because of that.
  3. Mark

    Mark Guest

    check the ground connection at the breaker panel and try posting your
    question in

  4. The blower is a separate motor from the compressor (the outside unit).
    Stalled compressor. Might just need a capacitor.
    When you manually tripped the breakers, one or more failed to close. Your
    second trip fixed that. Several minutes???????????????

    My guess is your only problem is the compressor.
  5. Better an electrician. Don't open the panel and start tightening
    things UNLESS you are 110% comfortable doing so.

    One slip and you may have a bad holiday season

    Jeff Stielau
    Shoreline Electronics Repair
    344 East Main Street
    Clinton,CT 06413
    860-664-3535 (fax)

  6. thomas rush

    thomas rush Guest

    thomas rush wrote:

    [that stuff's below; here's what I've found out...]

    Called an electrician who suggested it might be a
    problem with the wiring between the transformer
    and meter -- apparently not uncommon here in Houston
    with the underground, usually aluminum wiring.

    So I called the electric company who confirmed that
    one leg of my feed was at 120V, the other was at

    The good news is that it was that easy to diagnose.
    The bad news is that this is considered to be the
    homeowner's problem. So I'm putting in a new line
    in, in conduit, at $12/foot. The buyers should
    have good power for a long time to come.

    Thanks to all for your insight.

  7. Check your electric bill to see if you are paying for wiring repairs.
    Some utilities have a program for $3-4 month they will fix wiring
    normally responsibility of the customer. I just had a meter base
    replaced free under this program.

  8. James Sweet

    James Sweet Guest

    That's bizarre that it's you who has to pay when the problem is on the
    electric company's side of the meter, my utility fixes anything on their
    side on their dime.
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