Originally Posted by Lee Willis:

I hate aluminum wiring by the way - worrisome stuff if not checked occasionally.

Do you think aluminum is that big of a deal when used for service entry?  Pretty much standard around here for residential entries.

 

I agree you don't want your house wired with it though.

Charlie a.k.a MichiganRailRoad714 - D3R - NMRRC


 

 

Most of the larger gauge wiring in residential wiring is still aluminum.  The issues with dissimilar metals has long ago been solved.  All the wiring to my three heat pumps is aluminum, as is the wiring to the range, dryer, and of course, the service entrance.  When I take the cover off one of the two 200A panels in my house, I see lots of aluminum wiring.

The main feeder box is wired with aluminum, as are the range (220 V), the dryer and a sub panel in the basement, both 220 volts.  Everything else, all 120 volt circuits are copper.  I have added several circuits in the basement, a feeder to my barn, and a 220 volt  copper feeder to the AC/Heat pump.  

 

When the power company rep was here yesterday, and told me my feeder was undersized, looked at for some inkling if they would replace the feed from the street to the house (about 300 feet - overhead).  I could not get a reading, he just had no affect.   

I think they must be trained to act like this, much like the medical profession about getting information without a doctor present.

 

Well, I am hopeful that the electrical contractor will be able to offer me some insights about cost and specific responsibilities.  Wish me luck.

 

 

Power Problems in House

Hi Bob Severin

See photo below of my power panel 

 

I am not an electrician, but I took a picture of my power panel. The house was built in 1936. Over the years it has been updated.

 

In the box you will see a whole house surge protector at 29 & 31. This has solved a lot of issues and I had it installed by a electrician, from the advise of my local building inspector. This may help - Good Luck 

Whole House Surge Protector

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Originally Posted:
In the box you will see a whole house surge protector at 29 & 31.

Those are just breakers, the surge protector should be inside the cabinet, out of view. Those may be the breakers that the surge protector uses to tap in to the panel.

Rob

Originally Posted by ADCX Rob:
Originally Posted:
In the box you will see a whole house surge protector at 29 & 31.

Those are just breakers, the surge protector should be inside the cabinet, out of view. Those may be the breakers that the surge protector uses to tap in to the panel.

Yes, the device is inside the box. 29 & 31 are the reset for the Whole House Power Surge. We had a bad storm last week and the protector did trip 29 & 31. The building inspector did approve this installation.  Do you think a Whole House Protector would help for this issue? The big box stores all sell these. Thanks

Bob, you said this started back in May. Do you have central air conditioning? That load could cause draw down the voltage when the compressor starts. I get that all the time in my train room. 

 

On the other hand, if your neighbors are experiencing the same thing, it is probably the power company's problem and you have no control.

Originally Posted by Big_Boy_4005:

Bob, you said this started back in May. Do you have central air conditioning? That load could cause draw down the voltage when the compressor starts. I get that all the time in my train room. 

 

On the other hand, if your neighbors are experiencing the same thing, it is probably the power company's problem and you have no control.

Although it started in May, it has nothing to do with the AC.  The problem occurs whether or not the AC is running.  It even happens in the wee hours, when the outdoor temp is cool, and there is not much going on anywhere in the area.  I have a dusk to dawn sodium light that lights the back property, and it continues to flicker when nothing else is happening.

Bob, you're doing the right thing by calling in a certified electrical contractor.  Once you get the house checked out by them it gives you more strength to be able to fight it out with the electrical company & PSC if needed by having a professional contractor reporting issues from the meter out and showing your house has been checked. Good luck!

Sincerely, Gary P.  Hopefully some day again to be rebuilding the Phillips Junction Railroad layout in Slackerville after my medical issues.

UPDATE:

 

Today, both the power company and an electrical contractor were out. The power company lineman installed a monitor at the lines feeding my house.  They will monitor it for approximately a week to determine the cause of the voltage drop.  

 

A bit later the electrical contractor also came out.  I contracted with him to replace the entrance service, from the mast, to a new meter plug, and a complete replacement of the main panel, with an upgrade to a 200 amp service.  They are also going to install a surge suppressor in the new panel.  The surge suppressor also includes a $75000.00 rider for my home owners insurance.  

 

For those who worried about me attempting to do this on my own, I am  ever thankful for your concern.  I think it was in a Dirty Harry movie - "A man's got to know his limitations."  Well this one certainly was above my limitations, and both the wife and I are feeling good about this investment in our lives.  

 

Once again, thanks to everyone for your answers, input, and concerns.  It's what this forum is about for me.  

 

bob 

Sounds like you should be able to nail any power issues with that combo.

 

It'll be interesting to see what the power company comes up with.

Originally Posted by Forrest Jerome:

 

did he offer any speculation about what was happening?

Not directly.  He did comment that despite the obvious problems, he said everything is correctly wired, no apparent overheating or visible problems.  I still think the drop in voltage / lights flickering problem stems from the power company.

Originally Posted by gunrunnerjohn:

Most of the larger gauge wiring in residential wiring is still aluminum.  The issues with dissimilar metals has long ago been solved.  All the wiring to my three heat pumps is aluminum, as is the wiring to the range, dryer, and of course, the service entrance.  When I take the cover off one of the two 200A panels in my house, I see lots of aluminum wiring.

I've got no problem with AL in utility systems - called for a lot of AA and ACSR in my time and very little CU.  Or into my meter box.  Good, solid meter box terminals and all will not come loose if done right, and they are . . .

 

But here in the house, and in the trainroom and workship, no.  It's all copper and only copper.  I'm not concerned about dissimilar metals, etc. - yes that's been solved.  What bothers me is thermal expansion working circuits loose.  Somehow it causes the aluminum to gradually weaken and screwed-down contacts to loosen just a tiny bit, which causes more resistance, which causes more heating - which causes more expansion and eventually a rash of open circuits or flickering lights.  It was a major pain in a home I had two houses ago.  

 

Maybe that has been solved, too - it has been 25 years - but I'm sticking with CU.

Originally Posted by Bob Severin:

UPDATE:

 

Today, both the power company and an electrical contractor were out. The power company lineman installed a monitor at the lines feeding my house.  They will monitor it for approximately a week to determine the cause of the voltage drop.  

 

A bit later the electrical contractor also came out.  I contracted with him to replace the entrance service, from the mast, to a new meter plug, and a complete replacement of the main panel, with an upgrade to a 200 amp service.  They are also going to install a surge suppressor in the new panel.  The surge suppressor also includes a $75000.00 rider for my home owners insurance.  

 

For those who worried about me attempting to do this on my own, I am  ever thankful for your concern.  I think it was in a Dirty Harry movie - "A man's got to know his limitations."  Well this one certainly was above my limitations, and both the wife and I are feeling good about this investment in our lives.  

 

Once again, thanks to everyone for your answers, input, and concerns.  It's what this forum is about for me.  

 

bob 

 Bob, Thanks for the intelligent and reasoned story about your situation. I like to hear about people taking an in-depth interest instead of just "call an expert". There are plenty of cases of supposed "experts" not nailing down specific problems but charging you plenty regardless! In this case, the final verdict is not in yet?

 

A friend had a low water pressure situation at his residence that was an elusive problem. He finally tracked it down to an undersized hole in the plastic water main upstream of the water meter. It was one of those neighborhoods where new houses are connected to the existing pressurized main with a saddle tee, then they drill through a ball valve to make the connection. But the "experts" drilled too small! And it took years to track down the real problem!

Sometimes it's a problem caused as others have mentioned by the main feeders into the home being aluminum, which for some reason causes the connections to loosen up.  An electrician will re-torque the connections if they are loose which stops the overheating and flickering.  Originally Posted by Bob Severin:
Originally Posted by Forrest Jerome:

 

did he offer any speculation about what was happening?

Not directly.  He did comment that despite the obvious problems, he said everything is correctly wired, no apparent overheating or visible problems.  I still think the drop in voltage / lights flickering problem stems from the power company.

 

It sounds like you have the problem in hand. Sorry to be late to the party, but I can offer a possible explanation to the relatively sudden onset of low voltage problems.

 

I was asked by our local church to figure out why, suddenly, the lights would flicker when the A-C units kicked in.  I took measurements and determined that the line voltage on both 120 volt legs would sag 5 volts when the compressors started.  That is more than the recommended maximum 3% voltage drop that we go by.

 

It seems that the lighting company had re-run and re-directed our aerial drop wire from an adjacent pole-mounted transformer, to one about 4 sections (~600') away.

 

They had done this because a commercial building across the street had complained of low voltage, so the brains at LIPA (motto "We're even worse than the phone company") moved the church to a different transformer, and in doing so added more copper, which results in more resistance, which results in more sag.

 

I convinced them to put things back the way they were, and to move the commercial building's service to a transformer one section back.  Now everyone is happy.

 

Something like this might have happened in your neighborhood back in May.

Arthur P. Bloom TCA 86-23906 "I love the smell of smoke pellets in the morning!"

Bob, if you're having the electrical contractor upgrading your service up to 200 amp service from the panel, meter, pole mast, & feeder wires from the mast to the panel the electrical company will need to upgrade your supply wires from the street pole to the mast to handle the extra power requirements if ever needed,  they charge by your supply service so make sure they replace & upgrade your supply lines. Try to have your contractor there when the electrical company does the upgrade plus everything has to be inspected too. Sounds like you're doing everything right. Good luck.

Sincerely, Gary P.  Hopefully some day again to be rebuilding the Phillips Junction Railroad layout in Slackerville after my medical issues.

Hopefully you’ve solved your problem by now. We had a similar issue years ago in our house. The house was built in  1939 and still had all original wiring and connections including a glass fuse panel.

turns out there was corroded connections in the meter box from service line from pole. New meter box and breaker box solved issue.

Years ago I had a new service drop installed and the conductor was copper. The electrician who did the work used a TAP made for aluminum service drop. I had much the same problem you are having.

In short, I found this out by calling Philadelphia Electric who replaced the tap with one made to interface their Aluminum line with my copper and the problem went away. The line men told me that this sort of things happens all the time.

Oh yea, No charge from PECO.

 

Keep Your Rails Polished!

NJ HiRailer

(Just Picture The Image)

Bob Severin posted:

Bill, I hired a couple of professional electricians, and they put in a new 150 amp service.  No problems since that.  Oh, and the new service has a whole house surge protector.  No flicker in lights, no voltage drops, just better all around.

They God. No more voltage drops to slow down the trains. LOL

In my little world, I leave this troubled world behind.

As a retired electrician I would suggest that you start at the incoming service panel.  Flickering lights are a good indication that you have a loose neutral wire and or ground wire.  Next I would check the tightness of all aluminium wires.  Aluminium wires expand and contract, which eventually makes for a loose connection.  When the electrician shows up ask him to remove the aluminium wires and add some Penetrox to the ends of the wire and reconnect and tighten them back down.  A torque wrenchvshould be used and tighten to manufacturer's recommendations.  After checking the service entrance panel go to your subpage that contains all the house circuit breakers and follow the aforementioned directions.  The thin transparent wrapping you saw o. Your wires is part of the wire outer insulation and has no bearing o  the wires themselves.  In regards to the 60 amps versus 100 amp concern.  One, what is the main breaker rated at?  60 amps or 90 amps or 100 amps?  Two, if an amp meter was used around the service wires and it read 60 amps, it only meant the house "load" at that point and time was 60 amps.  The house was using 60 amps.  If the power provided stated that the service wire was only rated for 60 amps (maybe size 4 or 6) then the main breaker should be around 60 amps.

Again main reason for flickering lights throughout a house is a loose neutral wire.

Be Safe

 

Terry Givens

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