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Community and Q&A

Possible electrical ground out or short?

Sheleen Feldhaus | Posted in GBA Pro Help on

On the 7th of January, my townhouse electricity started cutting out (around 7 times). There was some wind in the area and cold temperatures, near zero. It stopped and soon after I would get shocked if I touched a lightswitch or my pet’s nose. My power usage has doubled, but that may be due to the temperature change. It is my first winter in this place. However in the past, I have never had such a huge increase in usage. It went from 537 kwh to 937 kwh and increased again this bill to 1087 kwh. Could a ground out cause the static buildup? (The floors are carpeted.)


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  1. Expert Member
    Malcolm Taylor | | #1

    You may have lost your ground or have a dropped neutral. That's fairly serious and should be looked at immediately.

  2. Richard McGrath | | #2

    Malcolm is quite probably correct . Sure sounds like a loose neutral or bad ground to me . Call your provider right away .

  3. JAMES KREYLING | | #3

    I believe that there are two separate issues that are mostly, but not altogether unrelated. 1. During the extremely cold weather, the dewdpoint drops and moisture exfiltration increases, leading to very dry air in the house. High static electricity buildup is common, and expectable. As you walk around the house, you WILL build up high static charge variances. Contact with any conductive object that has a different charge plane that your body will result in an instant equalization or "static discharge" which you will feel as a momentary shock, such as touching you cat's damp nose or the plate screws of your light switch. This is a common experience and can be reduced by humidifying your air.
    2.The matter of the electricity "cutting in and out" is much more serious, and if it is indeed a Neutral Conductor loss, a very dangerous and damaging situation. As an electrician myself, I have seen instances of many damaged pieces of equipment from lost Neutral Conductor connection. I you are seeing lights that are very bright, or very dim, and varying in intensity, a damaged Neutral is quite likely. On the other hand, if the voltage does not seem to be varying, but you are losing power occasionally, then one of the two powered conductors may be losing connection. Either way, your utility should be contacted to check for connection integrity, most likely at the Service Riser to Lateral (line coming across to your house) connection.
    Do you have electric heat? I would guess that the higher bills are a result of high power consumption due to the cold weather, not related to fault conditions. But without checking for the system integrity, it is possible that higher bills can result from electrical issues.

  4. Eric Habegger | | #4

    I had a dropped neutral on my previous house and that is serious. But usually there are other effects that go along with that. This is because a dropped neutral means everything is getting 220V. I had several electronic things blow up. Not literally but they were kaput. Also the lights in the house would surge much brighter when the neutral dropped out.

    It really is hard to troubleshoot electrical problems from a distance. Get an experienced electrician in there.

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