Please help or discuss

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kain_99gs

Member
Thank you and I have spent the last 2 hours or so searching the site for a proper response but I couldn't find a situation similiar enough to mine. Maybe I wasn't using the correct keywords but here is my problem and thanks in advance for answers.

About 2 weeks ago my computer (on a surge protector) started acting really funny and ended up having a mother board issue. The computer is from 2001 so I figured that maybe it was just the computers time to go.

Roughly 3 days later my Nintendo Gamecube acts the same way as my computer acted. Basically one day it turns on and runs perfectly fine, the next day just the fan/light turns on however it seems like the motherboard is fried/has a problem.

Well I decide to get a used computer from goodwill. The computer is probablly from the year 1999 or so. It ran well for about 1 week. Then one night/morning it has exact same symptoms as other components. Also I cannot shut off the computer whatsoever. Not even holding in button/etc.

So I have been faced with a lot of dumbfounded people over the past couple days to say the least. A couple people suggested "noise" in the electricity. I have been researching this and cannot come up to a clear solution as to if this can effect my components even though they are on surge protectors/etc.

I have also been reading about how the "noise" is really just a bad ground issue. Before I got and get an electrician to come to my house I wanted to ask some advice (I couldn't get a hold of any today, being saturday and all :)
 

iwire

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Massachusetts
Re: Please help or discuss

I can't help with an exorcism, and as you are not 'in the trade' I can not give you much info.

An electrician should check for proper voltage, correct connections and the grounding continuity.

With 3 pieces of equipment all failing in my opinion there is an issue that should be fixed.

Have you noticed lights in the house changing brightness?
 

charlie tuna

Senior Member
Location
Florida
Re: Please help or discuss

assuming that all these items were connected to the same circuit - you could have a problem like a loose common neutral connection which intermittently applies 240 volts to this circuit. and i'm not saying that all these items were plugged into the same convienance outlet - but wired to the same circuit. you not being an electrician do not understand the problem and how to correct it. if the equipment and wiring is properly grounded i do not suspect "static electricity" the culpert! idealy, someone with the capabilities of installing a power quality monitor would be the way to go. have them monitor the original power receptacle outlet...
 

davedottcom

Senior Member
Re: Please help or discuss

Sounds like an open neutral to me. I've seen it take out a tv, vcr, computer, answering machine, cordless phone, melt cable tv wires, all in the same house. (Bad neutral lug-connection in meter base)

My advice is to unplug Everything until you have an electrician check ALL the connections in your service and panel. It's probably as easy as tightening the loose neutral connection, but you have to find it first.

Dave
 

kain_99gs

Member
Re: Please help or discuss

Okay thanks for the answers. Today I tested my outlets and they are staying between 117 and 119 volts. I had my girlfriend turn on the dryer and it didn't even fluctuate. The only problem would be that I only did this for about 1-2 minutes. So I suppose if the neutral wire was loose that it could open the connection at random and send lots of power through. These outlets are not on the same breaker. Another question was could a loose or bad breaker cause these problems aswell?
 

don_resqcapt19

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Illinois
Occupation
retired electrician
Re: Please help or discuss

I had my girlfriend turn on the dryer and it didn't even fluctuate.
If this is an electric dryer, I would not expect it to have any effect on a grounded (neutral)conductor problem.
Don
 

charlie tuna

Senior Member
Location
Florida
Re: Please help or discuss

first of all --don't plug in any new computer equipment until you are sure there is no problem! to do this you will have to monitor this outlet for a long period of time --maybe days or a week! operating the dryer would have no effect on a typical circuit if the problem was within that circuit. that is why i suggested hiring a contractor who has the capability on gathering data from this circuit -- the same outlet that the original problem occured. without a data recorder he can only do what you did, and i don't think you want to pay him to stand there looking at a meter for a week? all of my sensitive computerized equipment have small ups units to protect them --- not surge suppressors---battery back up ups devices!! they cost about $100.00.. i don't think you understand what an open neutral is? but it can cause the normal voltage to double! and if it a loose connection --it may only open at certain loads or under certain vibrations. and electronics can't handle 240 volts for any legnth of time. the voltage on an open neutral is dependent on other loads also. this can get into an expensive issue --- like hunting for a needle in a hay stack! time consuming type work and the electrician needs to know how the average house is wired to even begin to look in the correct boxes. thats why the first step is to make sure you actually have a problem---data recorder...
 

physis

Senior Member
Re: Please help or discuss

I'm not completely sold on it being a neutral connection. It could be. You could leave a lamp plugged in. See if the light gets brighter for no reason sometimes.

It's curious that the three things that blew up all have a very similar power supply. And everything else is ok. I'm not saying that necessarily means anything either.

I'm wondering if the game cube was plugged into the surge protector too.
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
Re: Please help or discuss

Originally posted by kain_99gs: I have been researching this and cannot come up to a clear solution as to if this can effect my components even though they are on surge protectors/etc.
If there is a sudden, rapid rise in voltage, a "spike," then a surge protector should be able to prevent that spike from damaging anything plugged into it. What the other members have been discussing, an "open neutral," is neither sudden nor rapid, and does not look like a spike. It can, however, be intermittent, if there is a loose wire that sometimes is in contact and sometimes is not in contact. Some have suggested that this is what has caused your problems.

It is a common practice to have two circuits (or more, in larger facilities) share a neutral wire. You have two black wires and one white wire run together in a conduit. From either black wire to the white wire, you have 120 volts. Between the two black wires you have 240 volts (you might need this, for example, to serve a dryer or a range). But if the white wire becomes loose or disconnected, it is possible that a 120 volt receptacle might see the entire 240 volts. That would damage any electronic equipment, and a surge protector would not prevent the damage.

It may be time for you to look into hiring someone to inspect your wiring. It might cost a bit of money, but it may prevent the loss of money from other damaged equipment.
 

George Stolz

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Windsor, CO NEC: 2017
Occupation
Service Manager
Re: Please help or discuss

Originally posted by charlie b:
That would damage any electronic equipment, and a surge protector would not prevent the damage.
I've seen it. It may have been ideal circumstances, but surge protectors are better than nothing for this.

It may be time for you to look into hiring someone to inspect your wiring. It might cost a bit of money, but it may prevent the loss of money from other damaged equipment.
Very good advice.
 
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