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Author Topic: First service call in 25 years  (Read 2360 times)

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Offline silversam

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First service call in 25 years
« on: March 15, 2017, 05:17:34 PM »
Let me start by saying that I live in an old (1903) brick row house in Brooklyn. 2 floors and a basement.

When we moved in (1980) there was much yelling up and down the stairs and I hated it. So I decided to put an Intercom in. But that cost money and I was now, officially, broke.

But I did have a case of 2564 sets and a 501 KSU and a Teltone DICM so I went to town and installed a 1A2 system.

Which has sat, basically unchanged and untended with some very minor exceptions for at least 35 years.

About 30 years ago the CO lines got hit by lightning and that required some service.

Also about 30 years ago the "technician" installing my city mandated water meter cut the ground out from the electrical system and smoked the power supply. That required some service.

About 25 years ago a contractor putting down floors put a nail through a 25 pair cable and that also required some troubleshooting.

But since then - next to nothing. The occasional lamp. Once a tone dial! Change out the 4000F cards when I put in FIOS. Otherwise - nothing.

Until today.

I was taking a nap and Fran was making all sorts of noise. OK, I'm up what's the problem? No internet. I go downstairs and the router (and the TV and the Set top Box and....) are all dark. Down the basement, check the breaker and all is good. I've got some power, but not all. Lost a phase from Con Edison.

Take the cover off the panel and test. Yup. I got half my service. I call Con Ed and the robot promises to dispatch soon.

Now my supervisor (Fran) says: "What's that clicking?" Interruptor in the 501 cabinet. Unbury it and discover the first (and now only) CO line is hosed.. Weird flutter type hold (not installed on my system). Clear more crap out of the way, lay down on the floor (don't ask, it's a long, sad story) and start testing.

Do I still remember how to test? It's been a real long time! This stuff just doesn't break. I wound up removing tips and rings from first one, then another terminal when it hits me.

The power went out first. It's got to be related to that. But how? It's all 1A2. Except......

For the 2 line phone I installed a few years ago that no one ever uses. THAT ONE plugs into the AC.

I went upstairs to the living room, pulled the plug and the problem went away.

Annoyed, am I? You bet.

At that point Edison came by, (not bad. 90 minutes from when I called)  told me that with all the snow on the street from the Nor'Easter (not to mention all the cars parked on top of the manholes that are frozen in place) that there was no way to provide a permanent fix.

Lacking a key to get into the demarcation box they opened my electric panel, removed the offending 1/0 cable from the breaker and jumped it out to the other phase - with number 10 wire!

"Don't you think that's a little light for 100 Amps?"

"Nah, it'll be fine till the snow thaws."

Oh well.

Luckily I don't have much that's 220 in the house.

It's been a day.

Sam

Online hbiss

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #1 on: March 15, 2017, 06:05:45 PM »
You couldn't tell by my nearly $300/mo Con Ed bill but I'm lucky to be pulling 5 amps per phase at any one time. I think you'll be fine.

-Hal
I gotta get out of this business...

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Offline silversam

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #2 on: March 15, 2017, 07:26:17 PM »
Well, I got a 220 Air Conditioner - No problem.

But I got a 220 Heater for the back bathroom. It's going to be cold in there for a while.

And my Solar inverter is 220. No solar power for a while. :002:

Sam

Online MacGyver

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #3 on: March 18, 2017, 11:56:53 AM »
Sam, I may have missed something in the translation, but one or two things concerned me.  Of course make sure anything 200V is shut off so you're not getting partial power to it, but beyond that maybe I didn't get what you meant by jumping to the breaker from the opposite phase with a #10 wire. 

In a traditional breaker box, the breakers snap to the rails that are connected to the incoming phase wire.  Therefore if you're jumping to the terminal on a breaker you're jumping over the rail to get to the terminal, thereby bypassing the breaker protection.  The second concern is that if you're jumping to something on the opposite phase, you're backfeeding electricity up the dead phase.  In this case you'll be feeing power to all the otherwise dead outlets and lights in the house.  There is nothing wrong with that assuming that you have killed the incoming phase which would be hard to do.  Otherwise when the power comes back on, you're going to have a dead short between the two phases.  If you just went to the terminal and killed that breaker, then you're protected from the opposite phase when power comes back up, but of course there is no breaker protection whether the breaker is on or off if you've jumped to the terminal.  Well, of course unless you had come off a terminal on a breaker from the opposite phase   :023:

With all that said, if I misunderstood what you did, a #10 is rated for 30 amps, so as long as you're not exceeding the load on that you shoud be fine.

In a power failure at one location, we take a 120V #10 extension cord that has males on both ends and use it to power the building.  We kill the master breaker so nothing backfeeds to the neighbors, and kill all 220V breakers.  Next we plug one end into the generator, and the other end into an existing outlet.  Then we take another extension cord wtih males on both ends, plug one into an outlet that's not powered, and the other end into an outlet on the other phase that's not powered.  Now the whole place lights up.
-I'm only here because my flux capacitor is broken.

Offline silversam

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #4 on: March 18, 2017, 06:15:07 PM »
Trace -

What they did was lift the 1/0 feeder cable (coming from the meter) off (half) the main breaker and tape it up. Then they jumped from the working phase half of the breaker to the non working side.

Yes, #10 is rated for 30 Amps. I offered to go find a piece of #6, but they blew me off. Con Edison, like most (all?) utilities does not follow the NEC. While they should follow it doing work in your house - they don't.

I have never drawn more then 43 Amps on any phase -and that was with everything in the house turned on for a test.

I'll be fine - but I still get squeamish when I see that.

Very slick trick with the male - male extension cord. I have to remember that one!

Sam

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #5 on: March 18, 2017, 06:57:08 PM »
Okay, Sam; now I get it.  So there is no back feeding up the dead phase, and it's crossing where the leads enter, so all breakers are working.  Yes, you should be fine then for feeding half your box. They could have at least run two #10s, but like you said...  My guess it's like the Post Office.  They can't be fired unless they get caught stealing so they don't care. 

-I'm only here because my flux capacitor is broken.

Online hbiss

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #6 on: March 18, 2017, 09:28:33 PM »
Quote
Yes, #10 is rated for 30 Amps.

Yes, that's the NEC rule of thumb for #10 as part of a cable with 60deg C insulation. That changes way up if you have a single conductor in free air for instance. That little piece of #10 could probably handle 100A without getting warm. It's not something I would want to leave there permanently, but in a pinch I really wouldn't give it a thought.

Utilities aren't subject to the NEC anyway. How about when we have to run 4/0 aluminum for a 200A service up the side of the house according to code then Con Ed comes along and runs a #2 aluminum drop out to the pole? Does it burn up?  Or do you think they know that Sam isn't going to pull more than maybe 10A per phase in the real world and those NEC load calcs are worst case.

-Hal
I gotta get out of this business...

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Online MacGyver

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #7 on: March 18, 2017, 10:30:45 PM »
That changes way up if you have a single conductor in free air for instance.

Excellent point, Hal. :054:

The old NEC Table 310 (I think).  Now my brain hurts.   :002:
-I'm only here because my flux capacitor is broken.

Online CMDL_GUY

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #8 on: March 20, 2017, 11:43:07 AM »

In a power failure at one location, we take a 120V #10 extension cord that has males on both ends and use it to power the building.  We kill the master breaker so nothing backfeeds to the neighbors, and kill all 220V breakers.  Next we plug one end into the generator, and the other end into an existing outlet.  Then we take another extension cord wtih males on both ends, plug one into an outlet that's not powered, and the other end into an outlet on the other phase that's not powered.  Now the whole place lights up.

Trace, this is what I would do when a tenant moved out of one of my apartments and I needed to clean, paint and sometimes remodel.   Temporary service from the power company was always cost prohibitive.   
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington

“Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet, that did not commit suicide.”   -John Adams

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #9 on: March 20, 2017, 08:37:04 PM »

In a power failure at one location, we take a 120V #10 extension cord that has males on both ends and use it to power the building.  We kill the master breaker so nothing backfeeds to the neighbors, and kill all 220V breakers.  Next we plug one end into the generator, and the other end into an existing outlet.  Then we take another extension cord wtih males on both ends, plug one into an outlet that's not powered, and the other end into an outlet on the other phase that's not powered.  Now the whole place lights up.

Trace, this is what I would do when a tenant moved out of one of my apartments and I needed to clean, paint and sometimes remodel.   Temporary service from the power company was always cost prohibitive.

I was asked about this in a PM and wanted to make an additional statement;

This works because I need to use the apartment lights and some outlets for power tools.  It would be a disaster if you tried to use something like the stove or dryer!  For saftey, I always shut off any breakers for major appliances. 
"Government is not reason; it is not eloquent; it is force. Like fire, it is a dangerous servant and a fearful master." - George Washington

“Remember democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts, and murders itself. There never was a democracy yet, that did not commit suicide.”   -John Adams

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Online hbiss

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #10 on: March 20, 2017, 10:39:25 PM »
Quote
It would be a disaster if you tried to use something like the stove or dryer!  For saftey, I always shut off any breakers for major appliances. 

Actually it wouldn't be. The extension cord is fed from a 15 or 20A circuit in the apartment with power so if you draw any more than that the breaker will just trip. Anything that is 220V won't work although dryers usually have a 120V motor (from one phase to neutral) so it will run but not heat. Ranges can have elements from one phase to neutral in some instances too.

The biggest danger with connecting temp power like this is the double male followed by making sure the main breaker is off. Even if it's not, you're not going to back feed anything because the meter is either removed or isolated. But God forbid the power company comes by to turn the power back on while your cord is connected and the main is on. There could be sparks when he inserts the meter until your breaker trips- or not. But either way if he finds out about it you are going to hear something from him that's not nice.

-Hal
I gotta get out of this business...

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Online MacGyver

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #11 on: March 20, 2017, 10:56:55 PM »
At the other locations where we're not powering as many buildings, we use the 240V outlets.  The same layout with a double male extension cord, but we go from the generator to the dryer outlet.  Again, just make sure the main is killed so you don't back feed out to the meter.

Personally, when using the 120V version with a hop over to the other side of the box I do kill all 240V breakers.  I don't want a compressor in the outside unit getting a half feed. 

BTW, if you do this, create an outlet for yourself outside your closed area and plug a radio into it.  That way when the power comes back on in the middle of the night, you'll know  you can shut down the generator. 
-I'm only here because my flux capacitor is broken.

Online hbiss

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #12 on: March 21, 2017, 09:21:10 AM »
Generators are a different story. They are normally used during power outages so your service connection is intact out to the utility. In some states it's a criminal offense to feed generator power back into the utility and could land your ass in jail. There are all kinds if devices to prevent this, from simple mechanical interlocks that attach to the panel cover making you turn off the main before you can turn on the generator breaker, to automatic transfer switches that start the generator then transfer the power.

If you routinely have power outages and need a generator spend the extra dollars to do it right. Connecting it to the dryer receptacle or back feeding another receptacle is asking for trouble.

-Hal
I gotta get out of this business...

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Offline EV607797

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #13 on: March 21, 2017, 01:28:04 PM »
We call those double-ended male cords "suicide cords". 
Ed Vaughn

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Offline silversam

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #14 on: March 21, 2017, 02:31:38 PM »
Re' what everyone's been saying.

My Solar inverter would not supply power - even with one phase working. It WOULD supply power to A receptacle (wired to the inverter) if I threw the safety switch ensuring complete disconnection from the grid.

I still think the Male-Male extension cords are a neat trick - quick and dirty - but definitely dangerous, especially for the utility workers.

We used to have a 3 phase 480 Volt Diesel Generator that we used to supply power to Microwave sites in the event of local power failure. The sites were all rooftop (in Manhattan!) so we would run 4" Conduit down to the street level with a giant receptacle - AND a disconnect switch that cut the site off from the grid.

In the event of a local failure, we were supposed to drive the generator over to the site, park it by the humongous receptacle  and hook it up. I don't remember ever using it.

But we made a lot of money building out the infrastructure for it at 8 or 10 locations.


Sam

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #15 on: March 21, 2017, 06:28:43 PM »
I don't remember ever using it.

But we made a lot of money building out the infrastructure for it at 8 or 10 locations.

And that's what it's all about.   :011:
-I'm only here because my flux capacitor is broken.

Offline silversam

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #16 on: March 22, 2017, 08:22:10 AM »
"And that's what it's all about.   :011:

Yes it is.

Well, at least part of it.

All right, most of it.  :011:

Seriously, There was a time in my career when my employer (GTE & Fujitsu), used to fly me around the country to their customers to review their facilities and then prepare a report for them on 'Disaster Recovery - And Avoidance" (The AN AVOIDANCE was my idea.)

Often I would address the Board of the company I was auditing  and I used to preface my remarks by saying "How much do you want to spend to avoid disaster?" The idea was to come up with smart measures and reasonable costs to mitigate or avoid disaster.

Reasonable costs.

Someone has to benefit though, why not?

You pay for insurance and hope you never need it. Same thing.

Sam

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #17 on: March 22, 2017, 10:02:39 AM »
Someone has to benefit though, why not?

To quote Burt Reynolds as The Bandit 40 years ago, "For the money, for the glory, and for the fun.  Mostly for the money."  :008:
-I'm only here because my flux capacitor is broken.

Offline silversam

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Re: First service call in 25 years
« Reply #18 on: March 22, 2017, 10:13:15 PM »
 :054:

Sam