Thursday, November 2, 2017

1988 Manufactured Housing Electrical Troubleshooting

Manufactured housing mobile homes or whatever your idea of  of this type of housing refers to is a nightmare to diagnose major electrical issues with because not only is there inside wiring to consider but also the outside pole or pedestal utility meter and Main Breaker tap for the power source and all wiring involved.

This call for help was that the monthly utility grid billing was over $300.00 and the inside light fixtures would turn off and on by themself or the light bulbs would just blow up as soon as they were screwed in. To start the gas furnace a kitchen outlet controlling the coffee pot had to be turned on for the furnace to start?  Many outlets did not work and on and on the list of problems continued for a onsite meeting to determine the course of action to take to resolve the many issues.

The recent onsite electrical service call for help has me scratching my head even with 43 years hands on experience and a retired master electrician with this 1988 mobile home 2 bedroom 2 bathroom typical kitchen and living room. Reversed polarity on outlets, extension cords hanging out of windows feeding outside lights these issues stem from many years of poor electrical repairs. WIth a pole mounted utility meter base 100 amp 240 volt stepped down to a 60 amp 240 volt breaker to feed a plug and cord attachment for the inside 100 amp Main Breaker panel. As usual the inside home panel was full of 120 and 240 volt breakers and all of the 120 volt breakers that were the piggy back style. The PVC 2" pipe that came thru the floor to feed the inside mobile home panel also had 3 other sets of 240 volt wiring that was feeding ? along with the plug and cord attachment for a total of 4 sets ?. (The above pipe should hold only the plug and cord cable) so this leads me to believe that was added onto after the factory wiring ?.

After 20 hours of  all new inside outlets and switches devices and correcting the old backstabbed wire termination to the more reliable pigtail true series circuit according folded and removing all light fixtures and replacing with plastic keyless with 9 watt LED bulb replacement from older 60 watt bulbs. (The reason for light fixture replacement was all old fixtures had brittle wiring and sockets from using 100 watt bulbs in 60 watt sockets) And replacing the old inside Main Breaker panel along with all new circuit breakers gauged to proper wire size and zero piggy back . All that work tightened up everything humanly possible with the original mobile home inside wiring harness and if further issues arose which they did it would be with the outside pole mounted utility meter base 100 amp 240 volt stepped down to a 60 amp 240 volt breaker to feed a plug and cord attachment for the inside 100 amp Main Breaker panel.

Getting voltage reading between 197 and 220 in the 120 volt on the inside outlets and very dimming on the inside lighting when loads like the furnace and refrigerator start ups? Further troubleshooting on the  pole mounted utility meter base 100 amp 240 volt stepped down to a 60 amp 240 volt breaker to feed a plug and cord attachment for the inside 100 amp Main Breaker panel. Found that LINE SIDE utility grid meter at a steady 120 240 volt single phase and LOAD SIDE utility grid meter jumping all over when startup loads were trying to be applied? A call the the local utility grid provider for a service call revealed that a Neutral Switch was the cause of the voltage spikes and replacement of this Neutral Switch would revolve the spiking issues? Between you and I this seems fishy as I have never heard of a Neutral Switch used in grid tied residential electrical useage?

My recommendation to the client was to remove the pole mounted utility meter base 100 amp 240 volt stepped down to a 60 amp 240 volt breaker to feed a plug and cord attachment for the inside 100 amp Main Breaker panel. And to upgrade the service to 200 amp meter base and 200 amp weatherproof Main Breaker panel. This than would allow the plug and cord 60 amp 240 volt to be removed and replaced with 100 amp thhn copper wire and PVC conduit feed by a 100 amp 240 volt breaker in the new weatherproof panel. Also another 100 amp 240 volt PVC conduit feed for a metal pole barn on the property with a 100 amp 240 volt subpanel installed there to power the necessary loads.

Sadly the client did not take my recommendations and went to cobbling up the pole mounted utility meter base 100 amp 240 volt stepped down to a 60 amp 240 volt breaker to feed a plug and cord attachment for the inside 100 amp Main Breaker panel themself.

D B Electric

Sunday, October 15, 2017

Residential Load Troubleshooting

Working on original wiring issues that was installed by some licensed electricians is not for the faint of heart or non experience or knowledgeable troubleshooters. As it takes years of hands on skills to become proficient in the abilities that it takes to get projects completed A to Z with with quality craftsmanship.  

This phase of past and current client troubleshooting issue stems from a outbuilding that had a attached indoor greenhouse. A #14-2 w ground 15 amp 120 volt NMB romex cable was stabbed thru the wall for greenhouse feed terminating inside a single gang plastic nail on box that usually is put inside walls for outlets ect but in this case it was screwed to the outside outbuilding wall for greenhouse power? Reusing the existing power tap but terminating it inside a single gang weatherproof box now called my splice box power feed. After removing all the other old NMB wiring, splitters, extension cords and cowboy electrical new PVC conduit and weatherproof boxes and covers were used for single pole switch for 2 over head LED 4' lights and 4 outlets load side of GFCI lineside. Turning power back on bang goes the breaker? Troubleshooting revealed that over 20 openings (lights and plugs) were being controlled by this 15 amp 120 volt circurit breaker. Along with a old dinosaur of a refrigerator load and now the Greenhouse load.

Ok the fix as it's always is that it's in the numbers is to take the greenhouse and add it onto it's own circuit breaker as well as add another circuit breaker for the old dynasoar refrigerator. By taking these 2 loads off of the overloaded over 20 openings original circuit breaker still does not solve that issue but it does free up 7 spaces now lowering the 20 to 13 openings on a 15 amp 120 volt circuit breaker. The fix than is to add yet another circurit breaker and split the 13 openings between the 2 circuit breakers. And splitting circuits up in original wiring that is behind closed walls and ceilings that is stapled in place is not fun in the least.

By openings I mean a outlet is a opening a light fixture is a opening and by code you are allowed X number of openings for the amperage of the circurit breaker that it is designed to control the branch circuit wiring and device openings being operated. It seems as some electricians do not know how to count as I see overloaded openings in residential usage on a regular basis. Usually problems do not occur until more and more things are being plugged in  and being operated than it is a call to a quality craftsman to figure out what in the dickens is going on?

Simple to complex grid tied or a mixture of alternative electrical energy D B Electric has your A to Z electrical troubleshooting issues taken care of with quality craftsmanship and services.

D B Electric

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Slvania Circuit Breakers & Panels Dilemma

Service call original wiring 1 Sylvania breaker panel 240 volt 200 amp 1 Sylvania 240 volt 100 amp both panels stuffed full of 240 volt breakers and 120 volt piggyback breakers with wiring crammed in and less than 10 years old from a total rewire that was done by licensed electricians and inspected from a total remodel.

Client wants to add a 2.5 KW 240 volt load for a Sauna and wants to know how safe it would be to do so? The 2 panels are both Main Breaker and lead to overhead and underground to grid tied utility pole CT meter tap and meter is located on this utility pole.

The 240 volt 100 amp panel Out Building and would hold the intended new load and is located away from the 200 amp Home panel as described above for grid utility metering. 
(But the wires from grid wires to 100 amp Main Breaker are only #2 aluminum? 
How this even got inspected and passed and then hooked up by the grid utility is beyond me?) In short the only right fix for the #2 aluminum wires in question, that are not rated for 100 amps and the only fix is replacement to #2 copper thhn.

 Personally I dislike aluminum wire of any type because of the oxidation process that can happen if the oxide paste fails. Along with any aluminum wire needs to be twice the size of any copper wire for the same wattage & amperage being operated.

The next problem is the name Sylvania, go do any online research and you will discover nightmare after nightmare with these circuit breaker panels and also the breakers themself. The problem stems from the way the breakers snap onto the buss bar with a Zinsco engineering clip design that was prone to many failures. The only recommendations that I can find to see if a Sylvania breaker panel is good or bad? Is to have a licensed electrician shut the Main Breaker off and remove each breaker for inspection of arcing damage along with the buss bar where the breaker came from. Research has shown that clip failure causing loss connection and also code does not allow cross referencing brands of various manufactories.

In this service call there not only is Sylvania circuit breakers but also Square D Homeline, G E, ITE and one other I can not make out? So in this case I have 5 different breaker manufacturers all new less than 10 years ago? Where does this end? Sadly it keeps going because every bit of it already has been inspected and passed and the homeowner does not have a clue of the screwing that they got on the updated electrical that they paid for less than 10 years ago. Without removing every outlet and switch and doing a visual inspection as well as a test tone inspection God and the licensed contractor who did the original rewire work know where all those wires lead to? Just looking at the craftsmanship that they left behind tells of fault after fault. (An example of this is SEU cable in the 2" riser pipe for the 100 amp panel the SEU neutral is bare aluminum wrapped with black tape inside the 100 amp panel. The whip going to the central AC unit outside is regular flexible conduit rated for indoor use but they got clever and painted it gray. The whip should be weatherproof coated rated as well as all exterior whip connections.)

All I can do is document what I see for this client and let them make there own choices on how to proceed with or without additional repairs as the last licensed electrician sure did not do these people a good job at all. So back to the the original question can the 100 amp panel hold the 2.5 KW 240v load?

Yes as long as no other large 240 volt loads are also operated on the original #2 aluminium wires (grid to Main Breaker) will hold the 2.5 KW load. 

Clearly you can see that a quality craftsman takes every aspect of a client's wattage load requirements into consideration as well as what he has to work with when it comes to original wiring issues. These 2 Sylvania panels have a bad rap and I would not want them in my home period. 

A to Z D B Electric has your electrical needs taken care of with quality craftsmanship and services.

D B Electric