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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2011

    Default Meter base problem?

    I have a friend who recently had a new service put in their home. Its a 200 amp, with new meter base. Now the electrician who installed it did not tighten the lugs on the meter base and it was arcing. He came back to tighten them and caused a flash over that burnt the lug and caused an over amp that killed the freezer, washing machine and frig. He installed a new lug and left. Now I know he got into the box by cutting the seal ( a No-NO). The problem is that since this happened the electric bill has almost doubled. While i was watching the meter spin I noticed that it would surge forward, slow down then surge forward. Mind you everything in the house is off. If I throw the main the meter stops. Since the flash over occur in the meter box is it possible that the meter is damaged or are the leaking off to the ground rod. I told the to call the electric company and tell them what happened so it could be checked out. I have a lot of knowledge in home wiring but I am not a Master electrician. Any thoughts on what may be causing this? Also I went through and checked all recepticles inside, outside, and garage. Everything was correct except an open ground at washer receptacle. All advice is appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Brown county, Ohio

    Default Re: Meter base problem?

    I would unplug everything and see what the meter does. as you know computers and some other things draw current even when they are turned off. so once everything is unplugged i would look at the meter. and if it is still spinning i would throw breakers one at a time to see when/if it stopped. that would tell you if it is a problem in your wiring, and what circuit it is. as far as the meter base is concerned it is mechinical. so as long as the wires are torqued correctly there should be no problems there. you could have a faulty meter and that is the power company. there are some people on here that can give you some great advice. even some that may have even dealt with this problem before. so keep checking the thread and wish you luck, and be safe.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    The Great White North

    Default Re: Meter base problem?

    hmmm --- sounds like a bonehead hack sparky and should be reported.

    Most meter bases I've seen the meter itself has to be removed from it's sockets in order to access the wire connections. In other words there couldn't be any damage to the meter since it would have been removed.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Fayette County, Ohio

    Default Re: Meter base problem?

    I agree with Canuk, the meter would have to be removed to get to the connections, so it is unlikely that the meter would be damaged. A second point, you said when you turned off the main breaker the meter stopped which indicates that something beyond the panel is drawing current. Turn off all the breakers except the main and the meter should stop, then turn on the breakers one at a time to find out which are drawing current even though you think nothing is turned on. This will allow you to find out what is actually running.

    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Columbiana, Alabama

    Default Re: Meter base problem?

    Swany, you're touching on one of the most complicated and troubling aspects of power generation in the US.

    Basically, we have two hot wires supported by a high strength messenger wire coming overhead to our homes.

    The messenger wire is connected to the transformer center tap, grounding electrode conductor and the transmission line primary neutral jumper at the pole. This connection is a utility cost saving measure and is very dangerous and foolhardy.

    In our meters the NEC allows us to call the messenger wire a neutral and be tied to the homes ground rods, Ufer grounding in the slab, water and gas piping. If it were not for such elaborate grounding in the homes most of our normal neutral current would return to the utility via earth. Even with such grounding much of it does anyway.

    If you have an older style mechanical meter it relies on a good hot-neutral connection to calculate watts (P=E*I). If you have a poor "neutral" connection anywhere from the centertap cluster on the pole, the meter won't work properly (low). The new smart meters work alot like GFCI breakers they measure, compare and report how much current is coming in on the ungrounded conductors and how much is being returned on the "messenger" wire. If it were actually a GFCI it would stay tripped.

    I suspect you still have a poor connection from the center tap "cluster" to your neutral bus in your service entrance panel. It definately was the cause of your appliance failures.

    Sorry for such a long post.

    Good Luck from Wilsonville, Alabama
    Maurice Turgeon, http://thesemi-retiredelectrician.com

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Mar 2008

    Default Re: Meter base problem?

    " connected to the TRANSMISSION LINE primary ... ? "

    I believe you mean "distribution line " .

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