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  • Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

    I am only asking this because it seems like I have heard this before, but lets say that you have a house with really old or even faulty wiring....is it possible that it can somehow use more kwh? For instance, if my AC uses a hypothetical 3500 watts, could bad wiring cause it to use more than that per hour?

    Also, I am not sure what the deal is, but over the last couple of weeks there have been times where I started the washer and when I went back in the laundry room to check on the clothes, the washer had lost power. The breaker had been thrown each time. The same thing happened a couple of days ago to the breaker that runs my microwave and lights in various rooms.

    Well, yesterday I was standing in the kitchen with hubby and the lights started to flicker. We just kinda stood there for a minute because the way it was flickering was weird, but then the power went out completely. My bill had been paid, so I knew it wasnt cut from lack of payment. It was a clear and sunny day, so it was not out due to storms. It is not uncommon for my neighborhood to have an occasional outage for no apparent reason, so I chalked it up to that! I went out for a while and returned about an hour and a half later. When I got back, the power was still out. I went to my neighbor's house to ask if theirs was also out and it was not out. WEIRD! My husband then decided to check the breakers and wouldnt ya know, the main was off! Here is the thing though, I have a 3 year old that WILL NOT LEAVE STUFF ALONE! The box is above my washer and there have been times when I have caught her on top of the wash messing with crap. BUT, I do not remember where she was at the time that the power went out. If she is not the one that turned off the main, what could be causing this? Faulty wiring? Bad circuit switches? Is there a way for us to test to see where the problem is coming from w/o having to call an electrician? Obviously, if it is indeed the wiring, I would have a licensed electrician correct the problem, but if the problem is in the box or switches, my husband can prolly do that himself!

  • #2
    Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

    Rather than take chances you really should call in a good licensed electrician and have things checked out.

    You may have leakage from hot to ground somewhere or from hot to neutral. As for tripping the main breaker, what is the Amp rating on it? Could it have been that lots of heavy loads were on? As for flickering lights that can be many things. To be sure it is inside of your house it might be a good idea to have a recording Power Line Voltage Monitor setup connected to the main bus in your breaker box and that does need a good electrician to do. Also the cost for such device is not something you want to get into if you can help it.

    By the way your asking this shows that you are anything but stupid. The stupid girl would just leave it go until you have a smoke filled house or fire or someone gets a nasty shock.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

      By the way your asking this shows that you are anything but stupid. The stupid girl would just leave it go until you have a smoke filled house or fire or someone gets a nasty shock.
      Actually, I was referring to my first question as the stupid question!

      You see, my elec. bill continually increases regardless of what I do to try to decrease it. For the past two months, I have been running my dishwasher on a normal cycle rather than heavy cycle, which lessens the time it runs by more than 30 minutes, as well as stopped using the hot wash cycle. I also changed cycles that I use for my washer, which decrease's each wash cycle by about 10 or 15 minutes. There are 7 of us in my household, so with the obscene amounts of clothes that I wash, 10 or 15 minutes ea. wash adds up to a TON of minutes. Even with doing that, my bill was $50 more this past month than the month prior!

      I have made lots of energy-saving/efficient improvements, but my bill keeps getting higher. I had my windows tinted. I got rid of the old 10 seer unit we had and replaced it with a 14 seer variable speed. I bought a front-loader washer. We added R-30 over the existing R-24 (if I am not mistaken). Plus, Ive cut back on other stuff, but I still cant seem to get my bill below $450/mo. I guess I am hoping that somehow, someway, bad wiring can use more energy, thus causing my outrageous light bills. Wishful thinking, huh?

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

        how old is your home? when was it built? My home built around 1966 had a similar challenge as the lights would flicker all of a sudden....

        It turned out to be a loose neutral behind the meter...The old meter socket of 43 years lost tension and it required replacement. You need to contact a licensed electrician and the power company to pull the meter.

        For the pros ..the old socket was made from phenolic material and the new socket is a fiberglass/plastic design. The new socket was slightly larger than the old socket but it did fit in the original box!

        If you're concerned about the curtain climber messing with the circuit panel box LOCK IT!
        Get a small pad lock or child proof lock that you can access easily, and safely.

        You may be able to trouble shoot your electrical problem with an AC voltmeter...
        measure the voltage at various outlets throughout the house. You should measure 120VAC+/- say 5%...if you get readings like 122VAC at one end of the house and 135VAC at the other end you may have a loose neutral as the two 120vac runs are not balanced.

        do you have aluminum wiring [age of home]? Where are you located as building codes do vary and the answer may also become more obvious. specific details would help.

        Then on the other hand it may be simply the connections to the circuit breakers [they are circuit breakers and not fuses?] may need to be tightened

        Just keep in mind electricity is much more dangerous than plumbing. You could get electrocuted if you do not know the safe steps to take....you may not drown when you flood the living room with water....

        be safe

        Cactus Man


        P.S. don't forget the obama power plan...yuk! In my area we have been informed that our electric bill may increase by 10+%
        or an average of $144.00 more per year. I anticipate an annual increase to $300.00 per year!!!!! after the addition of scammed new fees.
        Last edited by cactusman; 07-21-2009, 11:34 AM.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

          Check your bill, most time 2 out of 3 bills are estimates and may be way off actuals as they would be based on last years numbers before you made the improvements. I have seen issues like you are having and it was a bad neutral connection in the utility companies transformer. It would not have been your kid that turned off the main. The lights would not have flickered it would have been on then off, also the main is likely a bit stiff for a 3 year old to turn off. Flickering lights and then the main goes is not a good situation, I would suggest you have the power company check their side and hire an electrician to check your side
          Last edited by wbrooks; 07-21-2009, 12:02 PM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

            Originally posted by wbrooks View Post
            Check your bill, most time 2 out of 3 bills are estimates and may be way off actuals as they would be based on last years numbers before you made the improvements. I have seen issues like you are having and it was a bad neutral connection in the utility companies transformer. It would not have been your kid that turned off the main. The lights would not have flickered it would have been on then off, also the main is likely a bit stiff for a 3 year old to turn off. Flickering lights and then the main goes is not a good situation, I would suggest you have the power company check their side and hire an electrician to check your side
            Ours used to be based on a average, but a couple of years ago they put in some new system that supposedly gives the exact reading each month. When we first moved to this house (9 years ago), I was freaking if my bill was over $180 ( water, sewage, and elec. combined). Back then we only had 3 kids, whereas now, we have 5. Even so, there is no possible way that the addition of 2 kids has caused my bill to go up almost $300 a month. Even with random rate increases, I dont see it going up THAT much! Something is bad wrong! It just has to be!

            At the rate things are going, especially if there are going to be even more increases, I guess it will come to a point that I will have to make the decision as to whether I feed my kids, or give them running water, lights, etc... Of course, what good is food if I am not able to cook and refrigerate it?

            I am calling the power company ASAP. I hope and pray that they find something on their end that is causing all this!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

              loose connections is the first thing that comes to mind,
              is there any underground utilities, or lines that are buried?


              one way to see if there is any leakage or unwarranted usage, is to unplug everything or shut off if possible, and go look at the meter and see if the (if it is the old type) the disk is still turning, I am not sure one can tell on the electronic meters, (leave things off for a few hrs and see if any usage take place, would be one way, but not very fast if the leakage is small,

              I would suggest getting some one with a quality understanding of the electrical system in and look over the situation, (your power provider may be able to help you in this area, also they may do a power audit for you, or loan you a sub meter so on can have an idea what each appliance is using), (the flickering and the breaker tripping is not good),

              check back on electrical bills and see if the KWH usage is increasing or where it is at,
              (like I said record your numbers down) and see if they match the utilities numbers. (they may have meter numbers mixed up, or estimating),

              but I keep a record of electrical meter readings every month, and compare to the last month, (actually i write it on the receipt I file away). and usually do a quick estment on the next months bill,

              do you have demand charges, on your service, (if so doing laundry at off peak hours, and timer on the hot water heater if electric can help there),

              the flickering and the breaker tripping may be related to the larger bills and assumed usage. but it is definitely a problem I would check into as it sounds like something is arcing to me,
              do or have your ever heard any buzzing in or near a box when the lights are flickering?
              Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
              attributed to Samuel Johnson
              ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
              PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

                Ok, I just thought of something!

                My husband ran electric out to our workshop several years ago, but he also put it on its own circuit box that is ran from the main breaker. I hope I am making sense, as I am not sure of the correct verbage. Anyway, could the fact that he is running that one off of our main breaker be causing an increase in usage? Even if the lights are not in use? I only ask because I was just reading something that said something about this, but I wasnt really clear if that is what it meant. FTR, he is not, nor has he ever been an electrician. Perhaps his wiring is what is causing all my electrical problems?

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

                  Actually, I could be wrong about it having its own box out there, but I am pretty sure he did.

                  I just looked at the one in the house and noticed where he added a breaker for the workshop. All of the other switches are numbered anywhere between 20-50, with an exception of the main which is 150. The breaker he added is numbered with 100. I dont know if that means anything or not, but just thought I would mention it in case it does.

                  Would he have needed to add a breaker in the main box even if he put a seperate box in the workshop?

                  Is it possible that there are too many breakers running off of the main?

                  I apologize for so many questions, but I need answers and I cant seem to get any anywhere else!

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

                    go out to his mancave and unplug his big screen tv and kegerator until he fixes the kitchen sink

                    keep most plumbers away from electricty. in your case, keep your husband away.

                    this will lower your bill

                    rick.
                    phoebe it is

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

                      "Out to our workshop" sort of implies a detached structure. This, combined with "not an electrician" would make this the prime suspect.

                      How is the wire run to the workshop? If underground, an improper installation could result in "leakage". In this case, all the extra money is going into making a warm spot in the back yard.

                      On the other hand, if this were the culprit, I'd expect the 100A breaker to trip before the 150A breaker.

                      It should be easy enough to turn off the workshop breaker and watch the meter to see if usage changes.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

                        The number of breakers shouldn't affect your usage. Something really cheap to do is to look at your meter and see how fast it is spinning. You can then switch off various breakers to see what is causing it (e.g., you could flip off the workshop breaker).

                        Don't try to compare dollars to dollars, you need to compare kilowatt hours. At least in NY the rates can go up and down quite a lot, so the rates fluctuating may have something to do with it.

                        Flickering lights does not seem good at all, I think you should really have it looked at.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

                          Thanks for the suggestions!

                          After some thought, it does seem as though the bill started rising around the time he ran the wiring. And yes, it is a detached building and the wiring is underground!

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

                            For incressed electrical use, there has to be for it to go some where,
                            jsut more breakers or wire will not cause more use, unless there is some thing hooked up to it, and using the electricity, (the other possible cause is leakage) basicly it is shorting out some where and compleating a cirurt and using electriciy in wast.
                            under ground direct burial lines can be a concern here, as if there is a nick in the insulation they may leak to ground (I my experence most of the time if it is aluminum wire buried the will will soon disingrate breaking the circurt, (not nessarly stop using electricty because it will still leak to ground as it wasts the wire away), (by shuting off breakers and checking the meter should be able to give an indication of that),

                            leaking water pipes (if on a well the well has to pump much more water) if a hot water line the hot water heater has to heat a lot more water, (electric hot water), leaking pipes in the ground may not be easy to find or see),

                            first I would compair my bills to see of the Kilowatt hours of use actulay incressed over time, and how much.

                            if they changed to demand metering that may be the cause of the incressed cost,


                            the demand is the largest amount of electricty used as any one time,

                            (right or wrong) they some times have a meter that meausres the maxamun amount of power you have used at one time, and add a charge for that usage, even if it was only used for a few mins, in 30 day period, so say you run all the applances at once, and you have a large demand at on one 15 min period, and then would shut down the house for the reast of the month, even tho your electical use may in total have been very small, jsut a few KWH, if it was all used in 15 mins, the demand would be high, and if you were billed on a demand basic you may have a large bill for jsut a little of electricy used,

                            so it is importain to know how your being billed, and if your being billed with a demand charge.

                            before I would go looking for where the power was used, I would go to the bills and see if the amount of power used has actualy incressed. and if so to what extent.

                            now the flickering is a concern to me.
                            Push sticks/blocks Save Fingers
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                            "The true measure of a man is how he treats someone who can do him absolutely no good."
                            attributed to Samuel Johnson
                            ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
                            PUBLIC NOTICE: Due to recent budget cuts, the rising cost of electricity, gas, and oil...plus the current state of the economy............the light at the end of the tunnel, has been turned off.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Disclaimer; Stupid Girl Question

                              Well, I just checked the meter and apparently they installed a new one some time in the past year. It is digital, so how am I supposed to check that?

                              I will have to call them tomorrow to ask about the demand elec., as to whether or not that is how our is billed, but let me ask this...if they bill it like that and say we only use 2700 kwh per mo., but they bill us at 3500 kwh per mo. based on our usage during the15 or 30 minute interval, if called on it, is that something most companies will adjust? Is that just something that we as consumers have to accept because like it or not, we have no other options?

                              Also, lets say that you consistantly reduce the amount of kwh used per month. Will they make adjustments based on that?

                              Comment

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