O no, need a new fridge! WAIT! 95 volts????

O no, need a new fridge! WAIT! 95 volts????

PostBy: agcowvet On: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:28 pm

Not a new fridge but a dropped hot leg!

This evening, cleaning up, wife says from the other room, "Honey, the lights just got really dim!" Hmmm. Go to basement, no breakers tripped. Kill main, turn on again, no change. Go down line, killing breakers on same leg as dim lights until I find the one for the fridge. Kill it, and the lights brighten up again. Tried several times, same response. Fridge is single-outlet circuit, #12 wire.

Well, now, the fridge is probably 20 years old or more, a $50 front-porch special, but it is large and works well. I figure the compressor has siezed, and that's why it won't start. Look at ads for fridges. $500 minimum, plus tax! Ouch!

Clear the stuff from top of fridge, pull out from wall, in preparation for some troubleshooting. Hmmm, best check incoming line voltage first. 95 volts?! How can that be? Maybe something's up with transformer. Killed the hot-water tank (the only active 240V load.) Now there's 0V on line and all lights on that leg are dead!

Current must have been coming *through* the water-heater element, in series, from the good hot leg, onto the bad hot leg, then to neutral. Worked OK as long as lights were the only load, but when the fridge tried to start who knows how low the voltage dropped (I didn't check it, didn't want to subject the compressor windings to any more excess heat.)

Pulled panel cover, verified 116V on one hot leg, 0V on the other. Went outside looking for the problem, easy to spot, one of the service drop wires had come loose from the transformer.

Called it in to NYSEG, made sure to tell them "no worries, leave it go for tomorrow if you want, there's no need to come out tonight"...lineman came about 40 minutes ago (couldn't have been an hour between calling it in and him showing up!), fixed it in 15 minutes or less. Either they were right nearby, or wanted to get it out of the way in case of more pressing things tomorrow. 8-)

Long story short--just because there's not 0V doesn't mean you have both hot legs! Thank goodness we were home, I wonder if the fridge compressor would have been toasted if it remained stalled; interesting to note that neither the internal overload on fridge nor the circuit breaker tripped.
agcowvet
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: efm AF150
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Newmac NL-2 (oil)

Re: O no, need a new fridge! WAIT! 95 volts????

PostBy: McGiever On: Mon Jan 06, 2014 11:53 pm

agcowvet wrote:Not a new fridge but a dropped hot leg!

This evening, cleaning up, wife says from the other room, "Honey, the lights just got really dim!" Hmmm. Go to basement, no breakers tripped. Kill main, turn on again, no change. Go down line, killing breakers on same leg as dim lights until I find the one for the fridge. Kill it, and the lights brighten up again. Tried several times, same response. Fridge is single-outlet circuit, #12 wire.

Well, now, the fridge is probably 20 years old or more, a $50 front-porch special, but it is large and works well. I figure the compressor has siezed, and that's why it won't start. Look at ads for fridges. $500 minimum, plus tax! Ouch!

Clear the stuff from top of fridge, pull out from wall, in preparation for some troubleshooting. Hmmm, best check incoming line voltage first. 95 volts?! How can that be? Maybe something's up with transformer. Killed the hot-water tank (the only active 240V load.) Now there's 0V on line and all lights on that leg are dead!

Current must have been coming *through* the water-heater element, in series, from the good hot leg, onto the bad hot leg, then to neutral. Worked OK as long as lights were the only load, but when the fridge tried to start who knows how low the voltage dropped (I didn't check it, didn't want to subject the compressor windings to any more excess heat.)

Pulled panel cover, verified 116V on one hot leg, 0V on the other. Went outside looking for the problem, easy to spot, one of the service drop wires had come loose from the transformer.

Called it in to NYSEG, made sure to tell them "no worries, leave it go for tomorrow if you want, there's no need to come out tonight"...lineman came about 40 minutes ago (couldn't have been an hour between calling it in and him showing up!), fixed it in 15 minutes or less. Either they were right nearby, or wanted to get it out of the way in case of more pressing things tomorrow. 8-)

Long story short--just because there's not 0V doesn't mean you have both hot legs! Thank goodness we were home, I wonder if the fridge compressor would have been toasted if it remained stalled; interesting to note that neither the internal overload on fridge nor the circuit breaker tripped.


Neutral plays no part in a 240 volt WH circuit.
You could however get a ground from a broken sheath over a element that burned through in the tank. If the element wasn't bad the lights and fridge would of went out the instant the wire came loose on pole. You are lucky to find out your WH elements is bad...others have bad elements and don't know it. :)

Now you got another repair job. :roll:
McGiever
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AXEMAN-ANDERSON 130 "1959"
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: HARMAN MAGNUM
Hand Fed Coal Stove: RADIANT HOME AIR BLAST
Baseburners & Antiques: OUR GLENWOOD 111 BASEBURNER "1908"
Coal Size/Type: PEA / ANTHRACITE, NUT-STOVE / ANTHRACITE
Other Heating: Ground Source Heat Pump
Stove/Furnace Make: Hydro Heat /Mega Tek

Re: O no, need a new fridge! WAIT! 95 volts????

PostBy: agcowvet On: Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:22 am

Sorry guess I wasn't clear. There's no voltage on neutral direct from water heater, and the 95V on "Hot Leg 2" went away when water heater breaker pulled. "Hot Leg 2", having lost its feed from the utility, was now being fed by "Hot Leg 1" through the water heater element, and all loads on "Hot Leg 2" would get their juice from "Hot Leg 1"...something like a backfed receptacle?

So instead of juice going, "utility--->1--->element--->2--->utility" it went more like "utility--->1--->element--->2--->loads on 2--->neutral--->utility"? I did NOT check voltages at the water heater or its breaker. Neutral to ground on 120v circuits on Leg 2 was 0V.

I may be all wrong in my interpretation though, and perfectly willing to investigate further.

I'll take amp clamp tomorrow and see if any water-heater juice is unaccounted for on its own feed legs. That should be sufficiently accurate, no?
agcowvet
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: efm AF150
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Newmac NL-2 (oil)


Re: O no, need a new fridge! WAIT! 95 volts????

PostBy: agcowvet On: Tue Jan 07, 2014 12:38 am

Impatience :oops: I took amp clamp down just now. Granted just a HF unit but seems to read accurately enough.

--Amp clamp around cable feeding WH: 00.0 amp (no 'missing' current, but WH grounding conductor would (hopefully!) be carrying any stray electrons away)

--Amp clamp around conductors feeding WH inside panelbox: variable. I think head is too large to fit well, can't easily repeat location and angle within ring. Readings ranged from 13.8 to 14.5 amps, on the same conductor, depending on position of amp clamp.

If an element were failed grounded, I should be able to measure electricity flowing on the grounding conductor of WH cable, right? Maybe tomorrow will turn off breaker, disconnect ground, connect test leads, turn on breaker, and see.

(Side note: how can you suspect/diagnose a grounded element in the absence of power problems?)
agcowvet
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Furnace: efm AF150
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Hitzer 50-93
Other Heating: Newmac NL-2 (oil)

Re: O no, need a new fridge! WAIT! 95 volts????

PostBy: Short Bus On: Tue Jan 07, 2014 1:26 am

Agcowvet you have it right.

When one leg drops to your house power will go though the element and back feed the open leg. If you have much load on that leg the element will get warm dropping the voltage in the improperly powered leg and causing all sorts of problems.

I pay about 25 cents per KW here for power and replaced an old working fridge with a new unit and the bill went down about thirty dollars per month and has paid for the new fridge now. Refrigeration has made some great improvements in recent years.
Short Bus
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: Kewanee boiler with Anchor stoker
Coal Size/Type: Chestnut / Sub-bituminous C
Other Heating: Propane wall furnace back up only

Re: O no, need a new fridge! WAIT! 95 volts????

PostBy: lowfog01 On: Tue Jan 07, 2014 2:38 am

I keep a second "old" refrigerator in the basement. I started with the 1970 Olive Green that was original to this house. It worked great! but I put it out to rest when a newer old model was available for the right price, i.e. free. As old as it was I didn't want it breaking down while I had it loaded with food. That change produced a noticeable difference in the electric bill. Now I keep my eyes open and update the spare fridge if a newer model comes available.

The second refrigerator I have now is only a couple of years older than my main one. I got it when the neighbors remodeled. It's crazy to think what ends up in the landfill now days. Lisa
lowfog01
 
Hand Fed Coal Stove: Mark II & Mark I

Re: O no, need a new fridge! WAIT! 95 volts????

PostBy: Hambden Bob On: Tue Jan 07, 2014 5:43 am

Ahh,The Magic of What we Call "Backfeed".
Hambden Bob
 
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: Harman 1998 Magnum Stoker
Coal Size/Type: Rice-A-Roni !

Re: O no, need a new fridge! WAIT! 95 volts????

PostBy: Lightning On: Tue Jan 07, 2014 7:18 am

I had no idea a heating element in an electric hot water tank could back feed the other leg of the breaker box. It makes sense though. That's very useful information. Thank you for posting.

I had a similar problem. In my meter box, one side was making intermittent connection. Half of my house lights would flicker the other half wouldn't. Sometimes they flickered completely out, other times they just dimmed. Now I know why. While the hot water tank was heating, it fed the other side. This went on for days and progressively got worse. I thought my house was possessed. Then thru a flickering episode I looked at the meter. I could hear it arcing inside. I felt it and it was warm. I called the electric company and they came out immediately. It could have started a fire, I was lucky.
Lightning
 
Hand Fed Coal Furnace: Clayton 1537G
Coal Size/Type: Nut/Stove Size Mix

Re: O no, need a new fridge! WAIT! 95 volts????

PostBy: anthony7812 On: Tue Jan 07, 2014 8:03 am

A partial poweroutage does more damage than say a full on downed line... at least for your home. Uncle OHM still does his job so all the nice sensitive electronics today dont usually hold thier own for long.
anthony7812
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: VanWert VA 400
Coal Size/Type: Buck/Nut/Anthracite

Re: O no, need a new fridge! WAIT! 95 volts????

PostBy: McGiever On: Tue Jan 07, 2014 11:16 am

agcowvet wrote:Sorry guess I wasn't clear. There's no voltage on neutral direct from water heater, and the 95V on "Hot Leg 2" went away when water heater breaker pulled. "Hot Leg 2", having lost its feed from the utility, was now being fed by "Hot Leg 1" through the water heater element, and all loads on "Hot Leg 2" would get their juice from "Hot Leg 1"...something like a backfed receptacle?

So instead of juice going, "utility--->1--->element--->2--->utility" it went more like "utility--->1--->element--->2--->loads on 2--->neutral--->utility"? I did NOT check voltages at the water heater or its breaker. Neutral to ground on 120v circuits on Leg 2 was 0V.

I may be all wrong in my interpretation though, and perfectly willing to investigate further.

I'll take amp clamp tomorrow and see if any water-heater juice is unaccounted for on its own feed legs. That should be sufficiently accurate, no?


Understand what you say.

Note: WH only switch 1 leg through t'stat...other leg is constantly hot from breaker.
McGiever
 
Stoker Coal Boiler: AXEMAN-ANDERSON 130 "1959"
Hot Air Coal Stoker Stove: HARMAN MAGNUM
Hand Fed Coal Stove: RADIANT HOME AIR BLAST
Baseburners & Antiques: OUR GLENWOOD 111 BASEBURNER "1908"
Coal Size/Type: PEA / ANTHRACITE, NUT-STOVE / ANTHRACITE
Other Heating: Ground Source Heat Pump
Stove/Furnace Make: Hydro Heat /Mega Tek

Re: O no, need a new fridge! WAIT! 95 volts????

PostBy: tjnamtiw On: Sat Jan 25, 2014 2:06 pm

agcowvet wrote:
(Side note: how can you suspect/diagnose a grounded element in the absence of power problems?)


Disconnect one lead from each of the elements AFTER KILLING POWER. Check resistance of each element from terminal to terminal and check each terminal to ground to see if there's a short to ground.
tjnamtiw
 
Other Heating: Sopka Cook stove