I'm not sure what is happening but it seems that maybe there was a short-circuit, and now when my fridge is plugged in, the voltage levels in the whole house change.

The two phases in the main circuit breaker panel normally show about 122v / 122v (balanced). When I plug in the fridge or turn on its breaker, the two phases show 106v and 133v. There is a visible change in lighting and audible change in fans. The fridge doesn't seem to start either.

Now this morning (after going all night with the fridge unplugged) I'm noticing the same problem resulting from the coffee maker. As the heating element cycles in/out, the voltage throughout the house is changing.

What would be happening that causes the voltage issue throughout the house? What could have been damaged to cause a problem that affects circuits throughout the house?

  • 1
    Hey, what happened at the end after the electric company fixed it? Apr 26, 2020 at 20:49
  • Everything returned to normal, and thankfully nothing had gotten damaged yet. I'm sure we would have had several damaged electronics if we had not acted quickly.
    – LStarky
    May 10, 2020 at 11:43

2 Answers 2


Turn everything off and call your electric company and tell them that you have a floating neutral.

This is a very dangerous condition and rates an emergency response. It is beyond the ability of the homeowner to safely repair.

  • Thanks so much. I have disconnected power, called the electric company am now waiting for their response. Both responses were perfect and I'm accepting yours because you answered first.
    – LStarky
    Oct 25, 2017 at 13:23


Your service neutral has come undone and is allowing the "0" point of your service to drift back and forth, which will damage appliances and can even cause a fire. Treat this as a power outage and call your utility on their power outage reporting number -- they'll take care of it ASAP at that point.

  • Thanks so much. I have disconnected power, called the electric company am now waiting for their response. I really appreciate the bold letters letting me know that this is very serious.
    – LStarky
    Oct 25, 2017 at 13:24
  • 1
    Yup. Yup yup yup yup yup. This is a bona-fide power outage same as if you lost the L1 leg, but worse. Oct 25, 2017 at 22:31

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