Mountain Electric

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Southern Man, Aug 11, 2008.

  1. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I have a seasonal use cabin in the mountains of NC and have numerous problems with electrical and electronic devices. My wife jokes that a body must be buried under the house and its ghost is driving us nuts. In three years:

    1. Refrigerator board intermittently beeping. I located the noisemaker, snipped it off. Also the temperature controller stopped working, and stuck itself freezer 0, fridge 33 (perfect). One year later the fridge changed to 40 (not so perfect). Also ice maker worked, then stopped working, now works again.

    2. Brand new “Mr Coffee†coffee maker- kaput.

    3. Pet Smart radio fence. The charger and the unit stopped working.

    4. X10 touch tone controller stopped working.

    5. Plug-in phone (simple streamline unit) stopped working.

    6. Aquastat relay on the boiler broke- short in the circuit board.

    7. LL Bean (plug in) alarm clock stopped working.

    8. Bass unit on Sony stereo stops working occasionally. Slap it on the side to get it going again.

    9. Circuit that powers exterior outlets stopped working. I still have not figured out why.

    Is this normal for a new house or is something odd happening? They did install a new power main from the base of the mountain all the way to a new development close by last year, but stuff is still happening. We alway have (still do) get short power failures about once/ 2 weeks. Last time I checked the voltage at the house was 124.
  2. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,566
    Location:
    North Carolina
    this sounds like a neutral problem
  3. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I'm not sure what that means. I built the house three years ago, and my electrical sub was very professional, and seemed very competent (not like my plumber). The circuit board is wired as neat as any I’ve seen.
  4. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,566
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I grew up in the Yadkin Valley of NC. I lived in a little community called Rock Creek about half way between Roaring River and North Wilkesboro.

    I ran around in Elkin most of my Teenage years hanging out around the area where the Waffle House is located at I-77 and 268. I also spent a lot of time in Trap Hill area on the south side of Stone Mountain.

    I attended North Wilkes High School and Mountain View Elementary.

    This is some of the most beautiful country that God ever created.

    With the loss of all those electronics it sounds like you are losing the neutral causing the house to become a series 240 volt circuit instead of parallel 120 volts.
  5. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    I got here as soon as I could, and have been here for 11 years.

    So this could be a bad connection to the neutral bus bar in the panel, or possibly at the service connection at the utility’s transformer, right?

    The former I can check myself next time I’m there, probably in two weeks. I'll check the connection between the main at the breaker panel for tightness. I can also test for continuity across that connection. I can also rig up an extension cord at test between the ground rod at the transformer and the neutral bus in my breaker cabinet. Am I on the right track?
  6. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    In rural areas, there can be all sorts of power outages and voltage surges.

    In addition to having your electric company check for neutral problems, I would suggest getting a "whole house surge protector" which would be installed in your main panel. And then get good quality surge protectors for each outlet where you have something electronic plugged in.

    I live in a rural area and we have all sorts of power problems. (All my clocks are battery operated, I've given up resetting the electronic clocks.) Anyway I have the above surge protection and have not had anything electronic go bad.

    Also a nearby lightning strike can cause these problems. If this was the case, you insurance company may pay for the damage. Lightning is quite weird. I've seen homes where one thing was blown up (fried), but in the next room the electronic gizmos worked just fine! Other times everything in the house is fried.
  7. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    P.S. For the main lugs in a breaker panel and meter panel, the lugs need to be torqued with a torque wrench to the specifications printed on the box label. Needless to say, if there is live power there, you would want your electric company to do this for you.

    Also if there is aluminum wiring for the main service, this should have had anti-oxidant "goop" applied to the bare wire before installation. I use a toothbrush to brush this stuff on. (An old toothbrush that is. :) )
  8. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    This house is located in a "saddle" between two mountain peaks, 4900' high near the Eastern Continental Divide. So yeah, we get all kinds of lightning. The utility company is actually called "Mountain Electric" out of nearby Tennessee. The utility only takes responsibility at the street and will not go on the property. They even require the meter to be at the street on a 4x4 post. Everything is buried from 2 miles down the road with pad mounted transformers.

    I was planning on checking the resistance between the main nuetral and the panel before I touched it. As I recall it is a large allen wrench fitting. Anything else on the hot side and I'll just call my electrician.

    Here's a Leviton whole house surge protector for under $200. Any recomendations on this would be appreciated. I assume that this goes on the hot side ahead of the panel and would be installed by my electrician. Maybe I'll just have him put this along with another little job that I was planning at the same time. http://www.smarthome.com/4860.html
  9. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    Actually they connect to the panel, does not need to be ahead of the panel.

    They also have whole house surge protectors which look like a double breaker and they go in a spare double breaker slot. Only they don't have a trip bar on them and have little LED lights. Might be less expensive for the breaker slot kind if you have a double slot free and they make one for your panel.
  10. Southern Man

    Southern Man DIY Hillbilly

    Messages:
    530
    Location:
    North Carolina
    SmartHome sells three different units:

    Intermatic 1200 joules 48KA $80
    Leviton 950Joules 50KA $191
    Primax GPP800S 2700joules 60KA $120

    The Primax seems like the best deal although I'm not familiar with that manufacturer. In the product information they have this statement:

    I'd like to know that that means.
  11. Billy_Bob

    Billy_Bob In the Trades

    Messages:
    422
    The way these gizmos work is they typically have devices inside them called "varistors" or "metal oxide varistors" or "MOV's".

    These are basically switches which turn on if the voltage exceeds a certain amount. Like with a voltage surge.

    These are wired to "short" to the ground connection.

    So say a high voltage wire falls and contacts the lower voltage wire serving your house. A big prolonged voltage surge enters your electric service. Then these MOV's short to ground. My thinking is that if these are installed *after* the breaker (in the panel), they might trip the main breaker. But if installed before the main breaker, then no chance they would trip the main breaker.

    Also if you have a lot of individual surge protectors wired to this and that in the house, these would also at the same time be shorting to ground.

    So my thinking is that with all these protectors shorting the hot wires to ground, there would be a good chance the main breaker would trip, stopping the further entry of the high voltage.

    I don't know if this is the case or not. I know these MOV's will get "fried" if there is too much of a surge and they no longer short to ground after that.

    Anyway that is my thinking...
Similar Threads: Mountain Electric
Forum Title Date
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Can Electric Panel be Located in Closet Thursday at 8:32 PM
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Homeowner installing electric to hot tub Nov 30, 2014
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Electric Baseboard in Bathroom Nov 14, 2014
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Tankless Electric Oct 5, 2014
Electrical Forum discussion & Blog Selecting Transformers for Electric Baseboard Heat Sep 9, 2014

Share This Page