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salto_jorge

Feb 27, 2013, 8:42 AM

Post #1 of 19 (28708 views)

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CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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We finally got CFE out to inspect and calibrate or meter due to our very high electric bills.

The field engineer indicated that the electronic meter was correctly calibrated and offered to make a few additional checks.
That was good; the bad part is that I was not home.

The F.E. was hunting for what he called LEAKS, using some test gear that he had with him.
In the end the circuit with our Mexican Refrigerator appeared to be a culprit.
With the Refrigerator connected he said it registered 1.8 with it unplugged the circuit was .4

What is a LEAK plus and the other .4 who knows.
Is a leak a grounding or wiring issue at the breaker or the outlet or something else?




stevebrtx

Feb 27, 2013, 8:58 AM

Post #2 of 19 (28701 views)

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Re: [salto_jorge] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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Well, sounds like a bit of miscommunication, the frig "unplugged" and it's reading some current draw? - I suspect what he meant was that even with the frig unplugged, that circuit was still drawing .4 which would mean a "path" for the voltage/current to flow to ground which could be corrosion etc in the wiring that is creating a path to ground and costing you money. Most of our wiring here is through conduits, normally plastic, but possibly metal, that could be allowing a ground path.

Now, to be totally cynical, from what I've seen of MXN wiring - it's amazing anything works, it's far far (in another universe) beyond scary so anything is possible and even likely. You probably should have an electrician take a look at it.


RickS


Feb 27, 2013, 10:45 AM

Post #3 of 19 (28685 views)

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Re: [salto_jorge] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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"What is a LEAK plus and the other .4 who knows."

Wouldn't it be 'unusual' for the refrigerator to be the only device on a circuit? And if not, the other things on that circuit could be drawing some current. And what actually is the ".4" meant to represent?

In today's world we are constantly using electricity when the 'appliance' is actually 'off'. For example all TVs these days, even when off, are using about 40 watts of current just to support a handheld remote and to facilitate the 'instant on' feature. In addition to that all of our other electronic gadgets (modems, routers, internet phones, cordless phones, faxes, etc.) are drawing current even when we think we aren't using them.

If one were in the States one could buy a simple 'tester' to plug into the circuit at the refrigerator and better tell what may be going on. Maybe someone in your community has one that you could borrow.


(This post was edited by RickS on Feb 27, 2013, 10:59 AM)


salto_jorge

Feb 27, 2013, 11:00 AM

Post #4 of 19 (28680 views)

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Re: [RickS] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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In the past CFE once claimed we had a diablo, they came out messed with things and replaced our meter.
Since then we have had very high bills, based on usage values not just the rate tier that they gave us (we are now in a lower tier, still usage issues).

We have lived in the house for a while and had new larger wires pulled in 75% of the house plus went from 3 breakers to 8 breakers in the panel, before cfe made their diablo claim.

We had a friend pay our bill and talk to them about the situation, as a result we paid cfe to check out the meter and wiring at the meter.
I Was told that the field engineer checked all feeds from the breaker box and claims that the one to the refrigerator has a leak.
He left us the reading of 1.8 with is plugged in and .4 when it was not.

One of the breakers is for the refrigerator, toaster, dishwasher, gas stove (dials/igniter), range hood co-located in the same area of the kitchen.

So could the refrigerator be bad or the wiring at that outlet, the field engineer just said it was that circuit and refrigerator.

Like most folks I have a kill-a-watt graphic tester but it is intended to be connected at the outlet not the feed from the breaker panel.
The refrigerator does not look out of line in the kill-a-watt tester but then again it does not check for leaks.


(This post was edited by salto_jorge on Feb 27, 2013, 11:13 AM)


YucaLandia


Feb 27, 2013, 11:08 AM

Post #5 of 19 (28672 views)

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Re: [salto_jorge] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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We finally got CFE out to inspect and calibrate or meter due to our very high electric bills.

The field engineer indicated that the electronic meter was correctly calibrated and offered to make a few additional checks.
That was good; the bad part is that I was not home.

The F.E. was hunting for what he called LEAKS, using some test gear that he had with him.
In the end the circuit with our Mexican Refrigerator appeared to be a culprit.
With the Refrigerator connected he said it registered 1.8 with it unplugged the circuit was .4

What is a LEAK plus and the other .4 who knows.
Is a leak a grounding or wiring issue at the breaker or the outlet or something else?


The 1.8 reading most likely = 1.8 amps, which corresponds to this circuit using 230 watts.

The 0.4 reading most likely = 0.4 amps, which corresponds to this circuit using 50 watts.

The background leak of 0.4 amps (using 50 watts continuously) is bad.

But still the net 180 watts for the fridge is fairly high. Typical newer fridges use about 100 watts when the compressor starts, and only 60-70 watts when running.

The combination of numbers basically says you have 2 problems:
1. A very inefficient refrigerator that uses 3X more power than an ordinary refrigerator.
2. Your hot (127 VAC) wire on that circuit is mildly touching (connecting to) ground continuously - creating a 50 watt load, 24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.

Possible Causes of #2:
a. It is possible that a rodent or ants have chewed through the covering of the wire somewhere inside the walls - and that the now-bare wire is touching a weak path to ground - weak enough that it does not trip the circuit breaker - the equivalent of a 50 watt bulb. **

b. It is also possible that some (hand-twisted & taped) connection inside a wall, or behind an outlet, or in a junction box has worn through the tape and is grounding out very slightly.

c. It is also possible that ants have built a nest somewhere in the circuit, applying their nesting gunk to form a bridge between the hot wire and the neutral (or with the safety ground). We have had one species of ants here apply black sticky gunk to the control circuit boards of 2 of our air conditioners, ultimately shorting out the boards with their traces of black gunk - costing $500 pesos of parts damage in one, and $1,500 pesos of parts damage to the other.

The gunk from ant nests and/or termite nests can conduct electricity... and they seem to like warm places where electricity is flowing.

Trouble-Shooting and Solutions:
This all means that you might be able trace the source of the problem by unplugging things on that circuit one at a time (including flipping off the breakers on any air conditioners), while monitoring the amount of amps drawn (or watching the wheel on your electric meter). When everything is off in the house, the meter wheel should be completely still.

With all breakers OFF, what does the wheel on your meter do?

With everything unplugged, turn on each breaker, individually, and see what the wheel does for each breaker.

When you find one or more breakers where the electric wheel turns even slowly:
Then check again to be sure that everything is unplugged, and make sure any breakers out by air conditioners etc are turned off. If the wheel still turns:
Then open up every single outlet on that circuit to be sure that the connections at the back of the outlet are clean, and that any junctions in that outlet box are well taped - with no rodent nor ant nor termite damage or messes...

The leak really is not likely a corrosion issue, and it is definitely not a ground issue.

It is more likely due to living things: ants, mice, rats, termites, or a human who did a sloppy job cabling (skinning a wire inside a wall), or a human who did a sloppy job making junctions and pushing those junctions back into the boxes.

Only after you exhaust all of these items, would I begin to disconnect splices and connections to hunt down the source(s) of the leak.

Happy Trails,
steve


** A 50 watt load (leak) for 24/7/365 corresponds to 37 kWh (kiloWatthours) per month and 445 kWhr per year.

For context: At $ 0.8 pesos per kWh, this translates to $360 pesos a year for base rates, while the refrigerator is possibly using 3X as much as the leak.

If you are in one of the higher (e.g. $2.7 pesos per) kWh rates, then the leak could be costing you $1,200 pesos a year,
and the energy (pig) fridge would be costing you as much as $3,500 pesos a year....
-
Read-on MacDuff
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com

(This post was edited by YucaLandia on Feb 27, 2013, 11:11 AM)


salto_jorge

Feb 27, 2013, 11:29 AM

Post #6 of 19 (28665 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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We do have ants.

When we pulled the main in the house the meter did not show a draw.
When we pulled the circuit breakers in the house the meter also did not show a draw.
We did this when trying to determine if a neighbor had a tap in the system.

During the course of our checking we had the wiring checked several times and nothing was found.
When I checked a faulty light switch to my amazement I found braded copper wires larger then 10 AWG's just twisted together with some tape on them.


YucaLandia


Feb 27, 2013, 12:48 PM

Post #7 of 19 (28654 views)

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Re: [salto_jorge] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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We do have ants.

When we pulled the main in the house the meter did not show a draw.
When we pulled the circuit breakers in the house the meter also did not show a draw.
We did this when trying to determine if a neighbor had a tap in the system.

During the course of our checking we had the wiring checked several times and nothing was found.
When I checked a faulty light switch to my amazement I found braded copper wires larger then 10 AWG's just twisted together with some tape on them.


Hand-twisted junctions (wrapped with good quality electrical tape) are very common in Mexico.

As long as there is good contact between the wires, and that there is no corrosion, and there is plenty of good quality tape covering and sealing the junction, then, this can be a junction that is good for 20 to 50 years.

In damp, oxidative, or salty conditions, good electricians will grease the wires and grease the hand-twisted junction before taping it, to protect the braided copper wire junction from corrosion. We have seen these junctions function safely and well for over 20 years in beach homes.

If the ants are using your electrical conduits inside your walls as a super highway, I would treat the inside of every light switch box, every electrical box, and the inside of every junction box with a good oily insecticide or insecticide specifically designed for ants (formulated with some long-lasting adhesive-like compounds/vehicle that does not evaporate away).

You really want to eliminate the chance of a nest inside the walls.

If the advice in my first reply does not isolate the problem, then I think you have to start breaking into junctions inside either light switch boxes and/or electrical outlets, to sub-divide the circuit into smaller zones, to determine just which smaller zone has the leak, by sequentially dividing the circuit to isolate that zone... If the leaking zone is in the middle of the circuit, you may have to use an electrical cord to temporarily jump around the leaking zone (taking the suspected leaking zone out of the circuit), to supply power to test the rest of the circuit "downstream" from the suspected leaking zone....

Once you have isolated the leaking zone, and that zone has nothing connected to it, and there is no ant nest nor exposed hot wire weakly touching ground, then you are stuck with either tearing into the walls, or with re-wiring that zone. *sigh*
All the best,
steve
-
Read-on MacDuff
E-visit at http://yucalandia.com

(This post was edited by YucaLandia on Feb 27, 2013, 12:50 PM)


stevebrtx

Feb 27, 2013, 1:10 PM

Post #8 of 19 (28648 views)

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Re: [YucaLandia] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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Hand-twisted junctions (wrapped with good quality electrical tape) are very common in Mexico.
??????????????

You mean there is another kind? - well, other than poor quality electrical tape. When I moved in and opened the first electrical box I nearly fainted, wow, what can you say?

But .4 amp, if that's what he's claiming, is quite a leak. I believe I'd maybe run an extension cord from another circuit and do some other bypass's to see if I could isolate the problem. And, if they've pulled new wire in many parts then that should help isolate the "leak". That's essentially 40+ watts and will show on the meter with everything else unplugged or shut down.


salto_jorge

Mar 13, 2013, 7:34 PM

Post #9 of 19 (28447 views)

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Re: [stevebrtx] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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I purchased a leak detector so I can check things out myself.
Just in case I will have a supply of electrical grease and wire nuts.


(This post was edited by salto_jorge on Mar 13, 2013, 7:34 PM)


AlanMexicali


Mar 14, 2013, 4:33 AM

Post #10 of 19 (28386 views)

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Re: [salto_jorge] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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I purchased a leak detector so I can check things out myself.
Just in case I will have a supply of electrical grease and wire nuts.


After reading all the posts I have a couple of questions. You rewired most of the house. Do you have a ground on the recepticals in your kitchen? Does your range hood above your stove work properly? Have you unplugged this range hood or disconnected it when testing? Alan


(This post was edited by AlanMexicali on Mar 14, 2013, 4:34 AM)


salto_jorge

Mar 15, 2013, 3:53 PM

Post #11 of 19 (28318 views)

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Re: [AlanMexicali] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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I paid a local electrician in Zapopan to replace the wiring in a home when it was 2 years old. The wiring used by the contractor was so small and maybe with poor grounds that when the light bulbs burned they almost melted into the sockets. The Icebox was replaced before the wiring was changed and maybe it was damaged. I was not home but when testing for leaks, the CFE tech had those there go around unplugging items in the hose as well as flipping the breakers to isolate the various systems. The range hood was connected and it does work, I think it is wired into an outlet in the ceiling. All of the outlets have been checked with a Ground Fault Indicator Outlet Tester to insure they were wired correctly when the new wires were pulled. Since then it is possible that the roaches and ants that have free reign of the conduit may have eaten off some insulation.



(This post was edited by salto_jorge on Mar 15, 2013, 3:55 PM)


whazzoo

May 10, 2013, 8:12 AM

Post #12 of 19 (27657 views)

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Re: [salto_jorge] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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If you are planning on using marettes (wire nuts) beware, make sure the internal thread is not mild steel. They will rust away in no time. Also when using wire nuts the top of the nut (closed end) must point skywards. That way they will not hold moisture and cannot fall of if corroded.


salto_jorge

Jun 16, 2013, 6:06 AM

Post #13 of 19 (27154 views)

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Re: [salto_jorge] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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Still working on the Power Usage.

CFE electric service is 110V with a 40 Amp breaker at the meter.
Two wires go from the main service meter to the house, my guess is braided #8
Everything is in Plastic conduits, .5 to .75 inch in diameter.
When it comes to wire nuts, it used they will have to have dielectric grease in them to prevent rust.

Main Panel has 6-15 Amp breakers and 2-20 Amp breakers, several are double wired.
Panel has Square-D QO breakers (old style) and two of the doubled wired ones will be replaced with QO1515C, tandem units.

House has a Samsung RT43AMSS Refrigerator: 127V, 1.32 Amps, 180W with load
I have searched for a grounding rod, nothing found at all, one is needed.
50% of the outlets have green grounding wires, the rest have nothing.


Usage in Amps = 4.98 Amps Watts = 572 so in 60 days 670 - 824 KW, OUCH


(This post was edited by salto_jorge on Jun 16, 2013, 6:23 AM)


stevebrtx

Jun 17, 2013, 8:16 AM

Post #14 of 19 (27095 views)

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Re: [salto_jorge] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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I have a rather heavy "footprint" and several meters, but the main house typically runs a bit less than 12KWH per day. During April/May it's higher due to fans running, however it still averaged 12.5 per day for a total of 750KWH and of course I'm firmly planted in the DAC rate. But this is what I run on a regular basis (BTW this is 1/4 what I used in TX):

MAIN LIVING AREA
37" TV - 5 hours per night
Shaw receiver 24/7 (DVR)
Regulator (1)
2 Ceiling fans - Apr/May almost 24/7
2 vertical floor fans - Apr/May almost 24/7
1 floor fan - PC area 24/7
8 LED Spots (1-3W each)
2 small radios - 14 hours/day
Bar refrigerator
Kitchen refrigerator
Microwave
Dishwasher
Clothes washer
Battery charger(s) - 3
Two fountains 12 hours/day (small)
COMPUTER DESK
2 Regulators (1 UPS)
2 weather stations
PC
Monitor
USB hub
Cable Modem
Wireless Router
PC Speakers
Telephone
Answering Machine
Backup HD
XM Radio - 14 hours/day
FM Modulator
SECURITY
Alarm system 24/7
Security cams (5) 24/7
Wireless router(s) - 2
OUTSIDE LIGHTING
8 - 5W CFL
1 - 9W CFL
1 - 20W CFL

PRESSURE PUMP(S)
Separate meter


(This post was edited by stevebrtx on Jun 17, 2013, 8:34 AM)


sam.I.am

Jun 17, 2013, 10:07 AM

Post #15 of 19 (27082 views)

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Re: [salto_jorge] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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 So you have a 40 amp main breaker and a 130 amps of breakers in the house? Why?


stevebrtx

Jun 17, 2013, 12:01 PM

Post #16 of 19 (27067 views)

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Re: [sam.I.am] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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I have 50A incoming but more than double that in breakers because you're never going to be driving all to their limit, you can't. Now, having a 60A breaker(s) on a 50A incoming line wouldn't make sense. In TX I had 200A service, this is a lamp cord by comparison and this morning I'm powerwashing outside and it keeps dropping the XM radio out and it reverts to the "sales" channel which is a pain.


sam.I.am

Jun 17, 2013, 1:10 PM

Post #17 of 19 (27060 views)

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Re: [stevebrtx] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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Look, I was trying to help. You are running everything listed above on a 50 amp main, good luck. hope you donīt have a drip coffee pot to add on the list,.
It was not your house or problem my post was directed to. be nice. if you also have a problem, post it. I may be able to help.


stevebrtx

Jun 17, 2013, 1:14 PM

Post #18 of 19 (27057 views)

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Re: [sam.I.am] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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My apology, it wasn't meant to be negative, only informative as are you. Yes, I forgot to add the coffee pot and a rice cooker, the cooker is 650 watts and it all runs pretty well as long as the hamsters at the CFE are fed and watered regularly. PS: I didn't add the whirlpool tub which I never use and a hair dryer which I rarely use (and yes, I still have lots of hair - ha).


(This post was edited by stevebrtx on Jun 17, 2013, 1:57 PM)


salto_jorge

Jun 26, 2013, 7:11 AM

Post #19 of 19 (26916 views)

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Re: [stevebrtx] CFE electrical inspection, what does a leak mean ??

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True, the sum of the breakers is larger then the main.

The size of the breakers (max 15 amps now ) in the box is based on the wire size so that any single feed is not overloaded and wires are not melted.

One would expect the 40Amp main to trip when the sum of the usage from all the breakers is at the limit and prevent the main feed from melting.


(This post was edited by salto_jorge on Jun 26, 2013, 7:14 AM)
 
 
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