Electrician Types - I Have a Puzzle

cjjtulsa

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Wired my shop up myself about 10 years ago, and all has been fine. Wired outlets in the ceiling for plug-in florescent lights that are wired to a wall switch, and wired the wall outlets to a separate circuit. Three weeks ago, I pulled all of the florescents for some Harbor Freight LEDs. Things were bright, and worked great. Until now. Now they either don't come on, or are barely visible, with occasional pulsing. But the interesting thing - if I fire up a grinder plugged into the wall, the lights come on. Was running a fan a few days ago, flipped the wall switch, and the fan died, and wouldn't come back on, switch on or off. Plugged in the grinder, hit the switch, and lights and fan on. WTF? Maintenance guy at work said it sounds like I have a neutral loose somewhere, but all connections in the box at the shop are tight. It has 3 main breakers (I know): one at the shop panel, one outside of the house, and one in the main panel at the house. Any ideas on what I should check? Do the breakers possibly get weak, and can cause that? I might be having to call someone who knows what they are doing. Thanks for any help.
 

tyromeo55

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Sure sounds like an open or weak neutral to me too. Is everything in the house working properly?? PM me your number and I'd be happy to call and talk to you about it
 

mr ed

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Had something like that in a rent house. had an electrician look at it and could not find the problem.
finally found and it was a loose neutral in a wall outlet that would occasionally lose contact and kill the circuit.
didn't find it til I tightened every wire at every outlet.
 

dennishoddy

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Use a meter to make sure you have 230 V across the phases and then check each phase to neutral. You should be getting in the neighborhood of 120 volts give or take.
If you have buried electrical going to the panel, it's likely a gopher or something has destroyed the neutral. I've repaired a couple of rural locations that have experienced the issues your having.
 

tyromeo55

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Use a meter to make sure you have 230 V across the phases and then check each phase to neutral. You should be getting in the neighborhood of 120 volts give or take.
If you have buried electrical going to the panel, it's likely a gopher or something has destroyed the neutral. I've repaired a couple of rural locations that have experienced the issues your having.
To add to this...
To add to DH's post.

This is a good simple test but not absolute.

If one of the terminations is not good but still making some connection you could be getting a good reading but still not able to deliver any current. The neutral (grounded conductor) only carries the unbalanced load. depending on what connections are intact and what is running on the the other phase then little to no current could be flowing thru that neutral. It would be really sketchy just like what you mention when the grinder comes on. Be warned. depending on what you turn on and the impedance between phases you could get some really nasty voltage spikes on the entire system. the poor neutral is also probably getting really crunchy too. Could be a fire hazard if you keep going.
 
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