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Thread: Half Sparkless

  1. #1
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Half Sparkless

    I would say I hate to show my ignorance by asking the following question, but it's already too late for that then, isn't it?

    I awoke at about 11:30 to see if I really locked the doors or if I was only playing a role at the time. I tried to turn on the light in the hallway to no avail. Same thing in the next hall. The kitchen light was on. Two burned out hall light bulbs? In two different hallways? At the same time? What are the odds?

    So I started looking around at the other electrical phenomena. The kitchen lights were on, but the refrigerator was not. This was a truly ominous revelation, as within that metal box lies the vestiges of my last few vices: Food and Drink.

    I then noticed that the lights at the patio were on, but the lights at the front of the house were not. The moon lights in the trees were on. The light was on the statue outside the dining room window. What the hell was going on?

    I went out the front door to see if there were camera crews waiting for me to pop out and say something stupid for posterity only to find a huge Garland Power and Light truck idling parked across my driveway.

    Two surly giants in safety vests and big up-to-the-elbow work gloves were poking around in that little hole in the yard where the sparks electricity comes from. I asked what was up. They said there was a bad cable and that they were "on it".

    I went to the garage and got a big honkin'#10 extension cord and wired my Holy Ice Box up to a working receptacle on the other side of the kitchen. I felt inspired as the plug hit the extension cord and I heard that compressor hum . . . my brisket was saved.

    Now to the question. How does it happen that half of the outlets in the house function while the other half do not? Be kind.
    Well then, at least try to be kind. Pretend.

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  2. #2
    Richard Moore's Avatar
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    I would guess that you (they) lost one leg or phase, hopefully temporarily. Anything connected to that bus-bar would be dead.

    What's a "moon light in a tree"?


  3. #3
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Moore View Post
    I would guess that you (they) lost one leg or phase, hopefully temporarily. Anything connected to that bus-bar would be dead.

    What's a "moon light in a tree"?
    Richard: It is the popular term here for downlighting trees.

    As for the sparks situation, it is temporary, as in temporarily fixed.

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  4. #4

    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    You guy's are up early.

    I agree with Richard.


  5. #5
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    ...The light was on the statue outside the dining room window...
    Despite Aaron's plea for kindness, I suggest we go off on a tangent and talk about his statue.
    I'll start.
    I think we can rule out George W. Bush.
    Not entirely sure we can rule out that the statue is Aaron himself, but probably not.
    Davy Crockett?
    I'm going to go out on a limb and guess it's a full size Kinky Friedman in marble.

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  6. #6
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Despite Aaron's plea for kindness, I suggest we go off on a tangent and talk about his statue.
    I'll start.
    I think we can rule out George W. Bush.
    Not entirely sure we can rule out that the statue is Aaron himself, but probably not.
    Davy Crockett?
    I'm going to go out on a limb and guess it's a full size Kinky Friedman in marble.
    John: Par for the course with you. The Kinkster? Nah. I like him, but not that much. Good books, funky looks.

    By the way. I assumed that the sparky problem was a dropped leg, but what could cause that sort of damage to an underground cable that big? It certainly was not my neighbors digging. All they do is run their fukking lawnmowers for 2 hours scaring thei little patches of grass into submission. They're both engineers who are much more interested in watching the lawnmower go round than any real landscaping.

    I'll send a picture of the statue, but for now, it's off to work.


  7. #7
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    John: Par for the course with you....
    Oh, a clue, eh? You have a statue of Texan Byron Nelson?! Or is it Ben Hogan?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
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  8. #8
    Fred Warner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    When one side of secondary fails, it will de-energize any all all breakers connected to the corresponding bus. One-half of all double-pole breakers will also de-energize.

    Many different conditions can cause this problem, the most common being conductor failure. When direct-buried underground service conductors are installed in trenches, they can become slightly damaged by backfill objects. Often something will "nick" the outer insulation just a little and Mother Nature will set out to "corrode" this nick with a resultant white powdery substance that "eats" away at the insulation until the conductor is connected to earth. This will cause arcing and eventual failure. This will take out one bus of the panelboard.

    Murpy's law comes into play often times so that this will occur at 35 below zero adding much fun to the project.

    There are endless scenarios, but I'll let others here post some of them.

    I'll just add this: It's much more expensive when the "Grounded Conductor" (often referred to as the "Neutral") is the one to corrode through. When this happens - and the phase conductors are not affected - the phase conductors will try to stabilize their resultant voltages without benefit of the reference neutral and really expensive equipment starts failing; some from over-voltage and some from under-voltage.


  9. #9
    David Argabright's Avatar
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    I had a simular experiance in my house a few years ago. I lost one side of the service into my panel. In my case the "dead side" appeared to be hanging on by a thread. Very dim lights!!

    Be aware that I am in the country and have a deep well system. The one good side of the feed was supplying the well pump with 120 volts. Because the well pump was trying to operate the contacts were closed which fed back through the "dead" side of the circuit. Thus I had electric to both sides although greatly reduced on the "dead side". When I shut off the 240 volt breaker to the well pump half of the circuits were totally dead.

    It took me a while to determine what was happening. I called my electrician friend a few houses away and between us we determined that half of the service conductor was fried.

    A call to the electric company and a few hours of waiting and all was well.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    Fred,

    You added the one at the bottom which I was going to add ...

    Quote Originally Posted by Fred Warner View Post
    I'll just add this: It's much more expensive when the "Grounded Conductor" (often referred to as the "Neutral") is the one to corrode through. When this happens - and the phase conductors are not affected - the phase conductors will try to stabilize their resultant voltages without benefit of the reference neutral and really expensive equipment starts failing; some from over-voltage and some from under-voltage.

    I will, however, add that it seems to happen much more often to the neutral (from my experience) and takes longer to discover it ... for the reasons you listed - things still sorta work ...

    ... whereas when one phase leg goes most thing stop working (all 240 volt and all 120 volt on that bus).

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
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  11. #11
    A.D. Miller's Avatar
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    Quote Originally Posted by John Arnold View Post
    Despite Aaron's plea for kindness, I suggest we go off on a tangent and talk about his statue.
    I'll start.
    I think we can rule out George W. Bush.
    Not entirely sure we can rule out that the statue is Aaron himself, but probably not.
    Davy Crockett?
    I'm going to go out on a limb and guess it's a full size Kinky Friedman in marble.
    John: OK, the statue, as promised.

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  12. #12
    Ted Menelly's Avatar
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    John: OK, the statue, as promised.

    So

    Is she still with that giuy. I think I might want to get to know her


  13. #13
    Fred Warner's Avatar
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    Damned pigeons!!!!!!!!!






  14. #14
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    Quote Originally Posted by Richard Moore View Post
    I would guess that you (they) lost one leg or phase, hopefully temporarily. Anything connected to that bus-bar would be dead.

    What's a "moon light in a tree"?
    Technically and more correctly, that would have been losing or under powered HALF A PHASE of your 120/240 (or /208 although most residential is /240) single-phase service.


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    Quote Originally Posted by Ted Menelly View Post
    Is she still with that giuy. I think I might want to get to know her
    Ted,

    I think I read or saw in some supermarket tabloid that they separated shortly after that photo was taken by the paparazzi.

    Jerry Peck, Construction / Litigation Consultant
    Construction Litigation Consultants, LLC ( www.ConstructionLitigationConsultants.com )
    www.AskCodeMan.com

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    P.S. more accurately called single-phase mid-point neutral 120/240 VAC 60 hz.


  17. #17
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    Default Re: Half Sparkless

    Quote Originally Posted by A.D. Miller View Post
    John: OK, the statue, as promised.
    You are a man of your word. But who would have guessed such a romantic?

    "There is no exception to the rule that every rule has an exception." -James Thurber, writer and cartoonist (1894-1961)
    www.ArnoldHomeInspections.com

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