First off, I'm talking about European Schuko sockets, 220V AC.
There is this one outlet with 2 sockets in the corner of the room, and both of them have caused problems. Over the past few months they've fried 3 USB chargers and when I try to watch a movie on a pico-projector (5V DC) it causes flickering and blacks out from time to time (usually right when the movie gets interesting). I should have isolated the problem to that outlet earlier, but I thought the whole house was electrically haunted.
Finally we stopped using those sockets, and I took it apart today. Nothing unusual in the wiring, no sign of burnt anything, no exposed wires. I put it back, turned the power back on to the apartment and measured it with a multimeter. Phase–neutral was OK, 220V, but ground–neutral was showing a 1..2V reading.
The thing is I think this stray voltage varies (based on the projector problems during a 2h movie). This is why I was a bit reluctant to call an electrician, I don't want someone to come, stay for a few minutes, notice nothing unusual and say everything is fine. Then charge me without fixing the issue.
I'd really like to use that outlet, it's well placed for the projector. Otherwise the room would be criss-crossed with extension cords. What could I do?
I think the renovation was done by a hack electrician...
- There's an electrical panel with 10 switches in the hallway. I thought wow, how nice, such granular control. Turns out the mapping is completely haphazard. They're not labeled.
- When a guy came to install gas sensors he asked me to turn off the power to the apartment because he was getting zapped by the gas pipes!
- The 2 bathroom fans have been improperly installed... You can't turn them on just like that, or it'll work for a few seconds then turn off. If you fiddle with the OTHER's switch twice you will get the second one to respond to its switch. (Mayhem, I know. Found this out through trial and error)
- Brought in an old stereo amplifier and I now notice it sometimes jolts with a loud static noise, as if I had taken out and touched the audio cable at loud volume.
- Sometimes the WiFi router or the wireless audio receiver go offline for a few seconds
That's all the suspicious details I could conjure up for now.
Answers to comments
I don't have enough reputation to create value for the StackExchange community by answering bloody comments.
I haven't checked ALL the receptacles, but two of them look perfectly fine. Tidy wiring even.
One phase of 220V, I believe...
The USB chargers weren't particularly cheap ones, in fact. If overheating is a measure of poor quality, they didn't do that. May they rest in peace.
The outlets don't have built-in USB. One of them has a built-in TV coax plug. Some light switches (SHOULD be different circuit) had light indicators that don't work. Could have been they all burnt out before I moved in, which would have been a problem. But the owner came by today and told me she's certain they had never connected those. I had issues with these before, and recall how I systematically tore out these little duplicitous "conveniences" and spat on their worthless corpse.
We have CFL lights in other rooms, yeah. The washing machine has a regular Schuko plug.
I had an electrician come check it out. He brought in a voltage stabilizer (with servo-motor) and measured between 210V and 230V. The dips are probably the cause, and it means the electrical issues are for the whole apartment, not just that power outlet. He replaced it to be sure.
His recommendation was to but a voltage stabilizer and plug valuables into that... I find that extremely cumbersome, and quite expensive, all for a "fix" that doesn't address the core issue.
What other recourse do I have to get cleaner power to the entire flat? I'll try to talk to the building's administrator and to the power company, but what should I be aware of?