Author Topic: Close call! Faults in electrical systems  (Read 2798 times)
Roi_hartmann
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Close call! Faults in electrical systems « on: September 02, 2014, 03:11:46 PM » Author: Roi_hartmann
Me and others living in a same housing cooperative had a close call with electrical fires. Its all started yesterday evening when I spotted that some lights in my apartment slightly blinked and got very shortly dimmer and then back bright every now and then. I first thought its just a problem in electric distribution network. This morning same thing continued and I did some investigation in fuse box and found out that all lights that did this were behind same feeding phase(Its 3X25A 3~ 230/400V that comes to my apartment). Later I went to my neighbour and asked did he have any problem with electricity and he said no. But he told that he had a key to main distribution room and we went to check if fuses were ok. There we found out that one of the fuses to my apartment was so hot you could not touch it with your bare hands. Took the fuse out, it looked ok. Then we screwed out the cover of the distribution board and found out that there has been loose connection in the cable that leaves the fuseholder to KWH meter of my apartment. 10cm of insulation of wire has melt and some nearby cables have allso had some heat damage. Lucky that we found this fault before it caused any more damage. Electricians comes tomorrow as we did not get one for today. We left one fuse(the faulty line) unmounted so untill tomorrow, parts of my apartment are without electricity.

Do other members have any experience in danger situations or close calls with electricity.
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TheUniversalDave1
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #1 on: September 02, 2014, 08:54:56 PM » Author: TheUniversalDave1
April 27, 2011 the storm knocked out half of our power. That is to say we were getting only about 80 volts in the house. The CFL's were doing all sorts of crazy stuff, the CRT television kept trying to start because my mother kept saying just give it a minute. I went outside to find a lovely burnt electrical smell. Power then went out completely for the next 30 hours.
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #2 on: September 09, 2014, 01:55:20 PM » Author: BG101
Something similar happened at my rellies' house a few years back, the lights were always flickering and it turned out that one of the terminals hadn't been tightened on the distribution board, luckily caught before more damage occurred (just needed a new terminal). Since then I've replaced the consumer unit with a modern Wylex as the old one was obsolete despite having been installed only a few years prior, couldn't get new circuit breakers for it and more circuits were needed for the extension.

This could have started a fire under the stairs, about the worst place!


BG
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #3 on: September 10, 2014, 09:50:15 PM » Author: don93s
The first time I encountered a loose panel wire was years ago at my mom's. One of the circuits kept tripping for seemingly no reason. I opened the panel...it had the ITE brand "Push-O-Matic" breakers and one of them had a loose wire which was somewhat melted on the end and the breaker itself was burned...as the screw terminal had gotten very hot. It was fixed and ever since then, every time I open a panel for any kind of work, I check all of the screws for tightness before I'm done.

Another time, the breaker for the kitchen suddenly kept tripping. After investigating, I somehow narrowed it down to one receptacle by the sink. I pulled the outlet unit out of the metal box in the wall so it was still connected and hanging...and had someone reset the breaker. Suddenly, sparks came out of the top of the metal box where the romex entered. I ended up removing a cupboard and a section of drywall to find that the arcs had literally caused a fire inside the wall burning the paper covering of the insulation for about two feet. Luckily, the fire lacked oxygen and died out. Turns out that we had some freakish freezing conditions where the ice outside had forced its way into the structure just below the roof line and melted inside the walls enough to drop water between the romex and the metal box, which, over time, caused a high resistance path to ground and slowly caused an arc reaction. Also, the romex from the early 70's wasn't always the highest quality. Other houses weren't so lucky from that ice incident, as I recall.
« Last Edit: September 10, 2014, 09:53:58 PM by don93s » Logged
marcopete87
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #4 on: September 24, 2014, 05:23:58 PM » Author: marcopete87
What about this?

This year, in Italy rain every even days, one night i was reading and, suddently the lights come off.
According to local law, my electrical panel have two sections: light (10A) and "other" (16A) (1 phase, 230V; in Italy, due hight cost of electricity, 3-phase system is uncommon in houses).
I found that light RCD have tripped and wouldn't turn on.
After sub-sectionating electrical connections in my house, i discovered the fault was in the intercomm: after 30+ years, ant managed to destroy cables insulation!
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Medved
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #5 on: September 24, 2014, 06:48:24 PM » Author: Medved
@marcopete87: At first glance it look like mild, but long term overheating (the plastic is damaged throughout it's complete volume), but it could be as well from the chemical damage from the insects, even "supported" by the electrolysis before the RCD had tripped...
Anyway, quite scary to see something like this was live on a mains circuits...
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #6 on: September 24, 2014, 09:08:39 PM » Author: toomanybulbs
you would be surprised how often ants damage electrical stuff.
they made a mess of a todd 75a battery charger in my motorhome.safari failed to seal around the cable entry and the ants decided that was the perfect place for a nest.except the nest site moves!
i have seen several others damaged the same way.
they also kill hvac contactors quite regularly.
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #7 on: September 27, 2014, 07:09:40 PM » Author: nogden
Turned off a 3-way switch as I went to bed. As I'm walking down the hall, I can hear a faint buzzing sound. Go back, keep listening. Eventually I narrow it down to the 3-way switch I just turned off. Figuring the switch was starting to fall apart, I turned it on and off a couple of times and the buzzing went away. Next day set out to replace it (wanted to check all the devices in the house anyway). Noticed it wasn't the switch itself but rather the screw terminal was arcing against the side of the box seen here.
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ace100w120v
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #8 on: November 04, 2014, 10:22:13 PM » Author: ace100w120v
@Don, WOW! That's scary! Was it copper or aluminum wire?
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #9 on: November 16, 2014, 11:04:00 AM » Author: FrontSideBus
Not a close call as such but have worked safely in equipment switchgear cabinets with live busbar that has 480v potential between them which are fed by 200 amp cutouts :)
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #10 on: November 16, 2014, 12:20:43 PM » Author: EU-Commission
Split phase system mark? Rare!
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Medved
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #11 on: November 16, 2014, 03:49:57 PM » Author: Medved
Split phase system mark? Rare!

Depends on where do you live.
Here it is VERY common, the only exceptions are the individual dwelling units in large housing, if they are not using the electricity for neither heating (centralized heat distribution or gas heating), nor cooking (gas stove). Otherwise you can not connect even a regular electrical 4 plate stove/oven combo unit without the availability of a 3-phase power connection (maximum allowed 1-phase connection is 25A "B" breaker for the complete dwelling unit, the cooker/oven combo on a single phase would require 40A branch just for itself), here the distribution rules are quite strict for the load symmetry...
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #12 on: April 18, 2015, 07:18:59 PM » Author: Solanaceae
A storm caused a surge last week that toasted one of the smoke detectors. Every now and then it would go off, especially at night. My dad had enough, so he tore the front cover off and ripped out the speaker (at 11:00 at nite).
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #13 on: April 19, 2015, 12:27:31 AM » Author: Medved
A storm caused a surge last week that toasted one of the smoke detectors. Every now and then it would go off, especially at night. My dad had enough, so he tore the front cover off and ripped out the speaker (at 11:00 at nite).

This is exactly the way, how installation of smoke detectors makes the house less safe: Few false alarms and people either start to ignore it or even disable the alarm, but still people feel relaxed thinking they are protected, so are not on watch anymore.
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Re: Close call! Faults in electrical systems « Reply #14 on: April 19, 2015, 12:40:53 AM » Author: Solanaceae
A storm caused a surge last week that toasted one of the smoke detectors. Every now and then it would go off, especially at night. My dad had enough, so he tore the front cover off and ripped out the speaker (at 11:00 at nite).

This is exactly the way, how installation of smoke detectors makes the house less safe: Few false alarms and people either start to ignore it or even disable the alarm, but still people feel relaxed thinking they are protected, so are not on watch anymore.

it's ok. We replaced it the next day.
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