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hburgin

11:09PM | 06/24/04
Member Since: 06/24/04
2 lifetime posts
Bvelectrical
I have been having electrical work done at my home by a licensed electrician. In the course of the work a power surge occurred, burning out a TV, timers for my sprinklers, a telephone and two surge protectors in an adjacent guest house (the main house is under construction and has no electronic equipment in it).

Sometime prior to the surge (24 hours?) the another worker mentioned to me that a neutral wire in an outlet was disconnected, and the electrical workers were trying to locate where the disconnect occurred, but that I should mention it to the electrician to ensure that it was fixed. Which I did and it was.

In investigating the cause of the power surge, the power company, not knowing anything about this, told me that the power surge occurred because of a neutral disconnect which would cause the 110 wire to arch to between 60 -240 volts. So it seemed like the electrical people made a mistake and was the cause of the surge and my loss.

In speaking with the electrician about this, he says that he does not believe this to be the cause. He says in rewiring switches and receptacles, the neutral wire is often disconnected and no arching occurs.

I need someone who understands these things to help me understand the neutral wire issue so I can decide whether I should pursue the electrician to cover at least part of my loss. Can you help me?

Thank you,

hb

bcelect

05:17AM | 06/25/04
Member Since: 02/21/04
138 lifetime posts
If there was only one outlet where the neutral was open, then the rest of the outlets would have been ok. If the open affected outer outlets down the line, then yes that would have wreaked havok with your voltages depending what loads were applied to the line. The voltages would have been too much and yes that is what could have burned out your appliances. You should ask to see where the open was and if he is a reputable electrician, and it was his fault, he is insured to pay for the damages.

hburgin

07:01AM | 06/25/04
Member Since: 06/24/04
2 lifetime posts
Thanks for your reply. I will ask the electrician to show me where it happened and if it could have affected outlets down the line.

hb

Tom O

04:10PM | 06/25/04
Member Since: 09/17/02
477 lifetime posts
Open neutrals in a 120 volt circuit will not cause damage of the type you describe.

A problem arises when a neutral is shared between opposite phases in what is referrred to as a "multi-wire circuit" where there is 120 volts to ground from each hot wire and 240 volts between the two hot wires. Should this neutral open up or get loose, the voltage to ground on one of the hots can exceed 200 volts, while the voltage to ground on the other hot will fall to a lower voltage.

Keep in mind that your service entrance is a "multi-wire" circuit and a loose or open neutral could be located at the transformer, at the weatherhead connections, in the meter socket or in the service panel or in any multiwire branch circuit.

Damage will only occur downstream from the open or loose connection. Proving who is responsible may be difficult unless you bring in a disinterested 3rd party.

Judging by your description, if the electrician was working on branch circuits in the main house, he was not responsible for the problems in the guest house. However, if the feeder to the guest house had it's neutral connection opened or loosened, then whoever did that would be responsible for the damage.

Tom
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