Mysterious reason behind extremely high home voltage??


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Old 01-16-17, 01:30 PM
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Mysterious reason behind extremely high home voltage??

At my home the voltage is always around 140v to 160v, the power company has checked everything and also the electrician but none of them could find the reason! ultimately suggesting me to use a home voltage regulator, before using it I wanted to know what could the reasons behind this high voltage be? its a two phase normal home connection.
 
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Old 01-16-17, 01:46 PM
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its a two phase normal home connection.
Two phase has never been used in residential and only limited use in industrial use in the early 1900s. You have single phase. It is the power company's responsibility to give you 120 volts 10%.
 
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Old 01-16-17, 01:48 PM
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Do you share the outside transformer with other homes?
Sorry, but the power company gave you an unbelievable answer. Of course they can find the reason. They set up the voltage regulators on the substation feed transformer, they determine the proper primary voltage to your transformer, and they spec the turns ratio of that last transformer.
What utility?
 
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Old 01-16-17, 01:49 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Your home service is 120/240v single phase.

Ultimately the power company determines the voltage going to your house.
If it's high it's their responsibility to correct it.
 
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Old 01-16-17, 02:37 PM
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Hi electer and welcome to the forum,
Since the the normal 120 is obtained by using half of the 240 a poor neutral can result in one side being high while the other side is low. When you get a high reading, it may only occur when something is loading the circuit, test several other outlets to see if any are reading low. Ideally you could test both sides of the 240 inside the panel, but that is a safety issue for you to decide.

If you find some high while others are low it needs to be addressed immediately and the pros here can help.

Bud
 
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Old 01-17-17, 05:08 AM
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Yes i share the outside transformer with several neighbors, you're right !! is there something wrong at the transformer?
 
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Old 01-17-17, 06:11 AM
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Were you there when the POCO checked the voltages,where did they take the readings, are your neighbors having any issues?
 
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Old 01-17-17, 07:06 AM
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i dont talk to the backstreet neighbours, the connection has been 15 years old and it was fine until 6 months ago
 
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Old 01-17-17, 08:21 AM
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Then this is a bad transformer or failed connection. In either case the power company needs to fix this up to the point the service enters your house. The power company should be able to show you 120V hot-to-neutral on both legs at the meter base. Until they can do that, they are in the wrong. File complaints or whatever you have to do, but it's their responsibility to provide power to a certainly quality standard up to your house. The acceptable range at the meter should be somewhere around 115-127V on each leg and 230-250V between legs.
 
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Old 01-17-17, 11:25 AM
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I agree with everything Ben said, the POCO should provide you 120v +/- a few percent.

Just to clarify though, how are you measuring your voltage? Most multimeters measure RMS voltage, which is standard 120v (or 240v across both legs). Some meters read, or can read, peak voltage, which is in the 170v range. Are you sure you're reading the voltage correctly?

I ask, because 160v would likely be blowing bulbs and some electronics.
 
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Old 01-17-17, 12:17 PM
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One more thing, if you are using a digital voltmeter you may need to change the battery. Some digital meters read high when the battery is failing.
 
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Old 01-18-17, 05:28 AM
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I am measuring the voltage on a handy voltage regulator with digital display installed over my fridge in my home, I installed it when the high voltage blew my fridge up, then it blew up the food processor and then a few lights..thats when I called the power company,

They showed me at a neighbor's home and his voltage was fine ! they also made a few fixes and replacements but to no avail so thats why I am quite confused whats wrong with my home!
to rule out any problem inside my home I called up the electrician and he also ended blaming the power company, now I wanna know if I can sue the power company for not providing me the correct voltage?
 
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Old 01-18-17, 07:08 AM
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Anybody may sue anyone at any time for just about any reason. Whether or not you will prevail is another question.

When you call the utility do you call the general information number or an emergency service number? Is the neighbor that has the proper voltage served by the same transformer as you? Is your "service" the wiring from the utility transformer and your home overhead or underground?

Do you have 240 volt appliances such as central air conditioning, an electric furnace, electric water heater or clothes dryer? Does your high voltage reading change depending on which of the 240 volt appliances are in operation when you check the voltage? Does this high voltage only appear on certain 120 volt circuits or is it on every 120 volt circuit? If you turn off the circuit breakers for ALL the 240 volt appliances what happens to the high voltage on the circuit you measure? What about other 120 volt circuits?

What exactly did the utility do when they came out? Did they meter the same circuit as you have have?

This sounds like a case of a faulty neutral conductor but rather than being before the utility's watt-hour meter it is after, which in most cases makes it YOUR responsibility. If the watt-hour meter is mounted on your home then anything past it is definitely your responsibility; the utility's responsibility ends at the meter. However, if the watt-hour meter is mounted on a pole some distance from the house it is less clear. Some utilities will supply and maintain the cable between a pole-mounted meter and the house while other utilities will not and that cable is the homeowner's responsibility.
 
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Old 01-18-17, 12:23 PM
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I can recall that one guy from the power company asked me to replace the cable between the pole and my meter and said that It could resolve the problem? any guesses? because I think it was all an excuse as i don't think there is anything in a simple wire that can increase the voltage? and @Furd I'll answer the rest of your questions later as I have to analyse them all!
 
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Old 01-18-17, 12:58 PM
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Yes if the neutral conductor is broken or corroded in the service lateral cable it will cause voltage to rise on one leg of the service and drop by an equal amount on the other leg. For example one leg may be 160V and the other will be 80V. This imbalance will change depending on what appliances are in use at any given time. It depends on the local laws who is responsible for repairing that cable. In some areas is it owned by the property owner and in some areas it is owned by the power company.

Perhaps they didn't do detailed testing, but there are conclusive ways to know if that cable is bad. An electrician can test it to know for sure if the cable needs to be replaced or if the problem is caused by some other component. Often if the cable is bad due to a break, the bad section can be located and a few feet of patch installed rather than excavate the whole trench, but specialized testing equipment is required to make that analysis.
 
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Old 01-18-17, 01:12 PM
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the power company has checked everything and also the electrician but none of them could find the reason
Once at the panel, Or even at the dryer recept. this is a 90 second test. Now, finding the culprit will take longer; but, it sounds like both have given up??

What utility? I spend 2 hours on the phone today with PG&E, and have contacts at SDGE. They DO have the people to fix this.
 
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Old 01-18-17, 05:07 PM
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Some complexity is needed to test for a broken neutral

You need to unplug all electronics (TV,s microwaves, also). Keep them unplugged until you fix the problem.

Have some incandescent lights plugged in and turned on. Measure voltage while you add or unplug additional incandescent lights. Noticeable variations in voltage are a sure sign of a neutral problem. A hair dryer will reveal problems more quiickly but may cause some of the bulbs to burn out.

Are all of your circuits incorrect in terms of voltage at a given time when youi noticed problems with one circuit? Or are some circuits rock steady 120 volts while others vary?
 
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Old 01-18-17, 05:53 PM
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Cal.must have a Public Utility Commision,I would give them a call or file a complaint in writing about the issues ,also keep receipts for all replacement appliances etc. you should be able to recupe some of the cost,is your meter supplied from overhead or underground?
Geo
 
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Old 01-19-17, 02:02 AM
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@Furd
yes when I switch OFF/ON any appliance then the voltage does change, it decreases when I switch on a 240v appliance and increases when i switch them off, and yes i have also noticed that the voltage readings are different at different sockets.
 
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Old 01-19-17, 02:06 AM
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@ibpooks
But the voltage gets normal sometimes randomly and is quite good around 120v so if the cable is faulty then won't the voltage be high at all the times?
 
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Old 01-19-17, 02:10 AM
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the voltage does get better sometimes but randomly and mostly during the noon
 

Last edited by electer; 01-19-17 at 02:38 AM.
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Old 01-19-17, 02:18 AM
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Unfortunately at this point you need to get your electrician to contact the power company.
He should have had the panel cover off.
He should have measured the voltage across the two hot legs.
He should have measured the voltage from leg A to neutral.
He should have measured the voltage from leg B to neutral.

Those three measurements should have told him all he needed to know to tell the power company.

I'm an electrician. When I get called in for a problem like yours..... I call the power company. I make sure that they are notified of the problem and then I follow thru.

I've never had a problem with the power company giving me the run around.
 
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Old 01-19-17, 02:44 AM
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@PJmax
yup he did call their engineer and asked him to replace the connection
and they even did that but right after that their engineer gave up and asked me to replace the meter cable and then both my electrician and the power company guy asked me to get a home voltage regulator installed.
 
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Old 01-19-17, 04:37 AM
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Just trying to clear up something. The readings at the incoming Power lines are right and the problem is on your side of the panel? You are getting 120 from outside to center on both lugs and 240 across both outside lugs.
 
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Old 01-19-17, 04:52 AM
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Electer, You have an open neutral.
The voltage will fluctuate, I've seen it as high as 177V
WARNING: Do not disconnect any plumbing grounds or ground rods, you could die.
Possible Causes:
1. Loose connection at transformer
2. Bad cable from transformer to meter
3. If this is overhead, loose connection at "point of attachment"
4. Loose or corroded connections in meter
5. Loose connection at Neutral in main breaker panel
6. Broken Neutral Buss inside main breaker panel
7. Bad cable from meter to main panel

If you don't get this fixed soon, plan on replacing everything in your house with a circuit board.
What doesn't have a circuit board?
 
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Old 01-19-17, 05:24 AM
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Are all of your circuits incorrect in terms of voltage at a given time when youi noticed problems with one circuit? Or are some circuits rock steady 120 volts while others vary?

During times when you measured 140 to 160 volts at a receptacle are there other receptacles where you measure low voltage such as 80 to 100 volts? Which ones are they? Make a map of the affected receptacles.

During times when you measured abnormally high voltage, are there a third, fourth, etc. different voltages at different receptacles that may be high or low at the exact same time? What are these voltages? Make a map.

You need a time when usage is not changing. After measuring several receptacles, come back to the first and measure it again. If it is different from your first measurement there, tear up your map and start all over.

Using the hair dryer, have someone else keep it at one receptacle while you measure that and several other receptacles throughout the house. The hair dryer should be on for only a few seconds at a time. Make a "hair dryer on" and a "hair dryer off" measurement at each receptacle you choose.

The result of all this is that you might find just one affected circuit, or maybe find a group of circuits that come together at one place such as a subpanel.

Only an experienced person should touch the big lugs with the fat feed wires in your panel. It is too easy for your hand to slip and the meter probe shorts out something with a big frightening spark that can splash molten metal in your eyes. But you can make several measurements in the panel yourself, from different breaker screws respectively to neutral (terminal strip with all the white wires).
 
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Old 01-19-17, 08:05 AM
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Let me try to explain the Main Neutral. I'm going to use layman's terms as much as possible.
If anyone wants to correct me or add to this, feel free.

The Main Neutral carries the unbalanced load between the Line (hot) conductors.
If Line A carries 68 amps and Line B carries 54 amps, then the Neutral has 14 amps. 68-54=14
The voltage on the Neutral will be determined by the voltage drop over the Line conductors.

The important part here is that 14 amps is more than enough to kill you, no matter what the voltage is.
When the Neutral is completely open (disconnected), the ground wires going to plumbing and ground rods will carry that 14 amps to ground. If you Open the ground wire and get between the ground wire and ground, like plumbing, you can get killed. Many water authority employees have died this way changing a water meter. The Open Neutral sent voltage to the Ground wire going to the Plumbing. The water company employee got caught between the Hot Ground wire and the Copper Water line going underground. This is why the water meter must be jumped according to code.

When the Main Neutral is Open, voltage on Line 1 and Line 2 will vary based on the unbalanced load. Line 1 could be 170 volts while Line 2 could be 70 volts. The 170 volt leg does plenty of damage to electronics. As you turn off and unplug items in the house, the unbalance load will switch from Line 1 to Line 2 causing the high voltage to switch to the other leg. Now the Line 2 could have 170 volts, burning up the other 50% of the items in your house.

When you pull the meter or shut off the Main Breaker, there is no unbalanced load, in fact there is no load at all. In this case, you'll measure 120 volts on each leg and everything will seem normal. When you replace the meter and turn on the Main Breaker, the unbalanced load starts and voltage will fluctuate. To detect an Open Neutral, things in the house have to be on and running.

Sometimes the Open is intermittent, this is usually caused by overhead wires coming to the house from the pole having a loose connection. When wind blows or temperature change quickly, the connection can fail. It's interesting that this type of failure occurs more in the winter than on hot summer days. Heat and expansion helps the connection to make contact.

For underground utilities, the Neutral can be damaged underground, especially if it's not in conduit.
 

Last edited by Electromen; 01-19-17 at 08:21 AM.
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Old 01-19-17, 10:21 AM
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Pugsi, I don't believe we ever established that for some reason,also wether it's an overhead or underground service,IMO if you haven't verified the correct supply voltages all the other testing at this point is Null.
Geo
 
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Old 01-20-17, 12:17 AM
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Exclamation Not impressed with the theory of replacing the meter cable !!

If the voltage was increasing due to a bad meter cable then how come the voltage gets better sometimes? like its better at noon around 125v and a few weeks ago the voltage stayed normal for about two weeks and then the high voltage returned at the fourth week, this session happens very frequently, so if the cable is bad its bad for good or does it keep on getting better and then bad again?
Because even if I change the meter cable, its gonna be a bit of a hassle and I don't wanna waste my time and money for nothing !!
Otherwise, I really appreciate you guys with such good technical knowledge your spirit of helping...
 
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Old 01-20-17, 03:01 AM
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I've been following your thread and I want to see if I can explain why your readings keep changing.
First, a bad neutral doesn't mean it is a broken wire. It is more common for it to be a poor connection which can vary with load and temperature and that is probably your case.
Second, when the neutral has a high resistance then a load (current) on either side of the 240v incoming power (normally 120v on each side) creates a voltage drop that adds to one side and subtracts from the other. Example, if you turn on several devices on one side and it creates a 10v drop across the neutral then that side will measure 110v while the other side will measure 130v. If there is 240 entering your house the two sides will always add up to that number.

When you use any 240v appliance it only sends current in and out the two hot wires and doesn't need a neutral. The neutral when it is good only divides the 240 into two 120v sides. When it is bad it becomes load dependent and the results can be anywhere from very low on one side combined with very high on the other, always adding up to the 240v.

The variable readings you are getting are due to changing loads on different sides of the 240v line. I didn't go back and re-read the entire thread but as I remember you are monitoring the voltage at the power conditioner at the refrigerator. Apology if my memory is incorrect. Using that one location is only showing one side of your line.

A part I don't understand (or I messed it) is why your power company and your electrician didn't explain this to you and then follow up by isolating the problem.

I hope this helped a little.

Bud
 
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Old 01-20-17, 06:07 AM
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I've done my best to explain this voltage variance, if Electer, the OP, doesn't want my 32 yrs of experience in troubleshooting, then good luck.
Make sure your homeowner's insurance is paid up.
 
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Old 01-20-17, 09:37 AM
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The split of voltage will depend on what appliances are running at any given time. The cable also may not be completely broken (yet), so depending on how wet or warm it is may have different conduction.

I also don't believe we have enough information to prove this isn't a problem with your main panel. That also needs to be checked out.

In any case that cable is very likely to be the problem until proven otherwise. You need an electrician to carefully test it. This is one of the most dangerous problems that can occur in residential wiring as it has the potential to cause a fire and to create dangerous shock hazards throughout the house. I really, really suggest you get this fixed as soon as possible.
 
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Old 01-20-17, 11:20 AM
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@Electromen
I am taking your post and suggestions seriously and I'm sorry if I appeared to have ignored it but your knowledge is very valuable and good. Thanks I'm going through your post once again to understand all the points.
 
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Old 01-20-17, 11:47 AM
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Is the feed from the Transformer to the Meter underground ?
 
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Old 01-20-17, 01:23 PM
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@electromen
no the meter cable is coming from a pole.
 
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Old 01-20-17, 01:38 PM
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In every Power Company I've ever worked with, the Power Company owns the overhead feed to the house including the connections at each end.
Call them and schedule an appointment to have the cable connections cut off and redone. At the same time, have them check inside the meter socket for loose connections or corrosion.
They should do this for free.
If it were me, I'd tell them this is an emergency with an Open Neutral.
 
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Old 01-20-17, 06:10 PM
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I agree with everybody's advice and agree with Electromen with calling the 24 hr service line. This is an loose/open neutral.
 
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Old 01-20-17, 08:30 PM
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If the questions I posed back in post #13 had been answered this could have been resolved by now.

I get the idea that I am simply wasting my time here.
 
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Old 01-22-17, 12:51 AM
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@Furd
I answered it just a few posts below it.
FYI, the Water purifuer machine also blew up yesterday...fixing to get the meter cable changed. I can't even watch tv anymore and I have to charge my laptop at my cousin's to post here...
 
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Old 01-22-17, 01:26 AM
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I can tell you this..... any of my customer would have fired me if I as an electrician couldn't get to the bottom of this.

Maybe this problem is outside your electricians area of knowledge. It may be time to hire a new one.
 
 

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