I built a carriage house is SC about 18 mos ago which I visited almost monthly. I took possession from my builder in mid May. In June, the can lights in the master mad e a sizzling noise when I turned the switch on and then died. I called the electrician and he came over and re wired them. Every month when I come back down the electric has been off and the clocks are flashing. I was down in August and the air conditioner had shut off and it seems the thermostat went bad. The fan in the freezer portion of the refrigerator also went bad. We replaced the thermostat and the fan. I keep questioning my builder and he first called the power company. They came out and told me that some animals ate my wire and they fixed it. I was at the house the very next day and the power went off again. This does not happen to any of the neighbors. I keep questioning my builder. He is now telling me it is arc breakers which are required here. Problem is that his electrician hanged these out the first time. Now last week the ceiling fan in the family room burnt out. There is power tot he switch but the fan itself is dead. I keep telling my builder there is something wrong. He insists not. I can’t believe all this is normal. I’m 53 and never had such issues. Can anyone shed any light on what might be going on??? I don’t want my house to burn down and I’m super tired of paying to replace everything. Thanks in advance!!!

  • What do you mean by "he rewired them"? And the breakers were "hanged out"? Did the power company and electrician check if you lost a phase each visit
    – noybman
    Oct 21, 2019 at 0:54
  • I would get a different electrician to evaluate whether or not faulty equipment was first installed, and if the wiring needs to be redone correctly. In any case, I do smell a lawsuit, or at least some civil case.
    – drtechno
    Oct 21, 2019 at 1:06
  • Sorry arc breakers were changed out. The electrician came over and spent about 4 hours at m house pulling down the cans and running some wire. I did not watch everything he did. Oct 21, 2019 at 1:51
  • What does lost a phase mean? Thanks Oct 21, 2019 at 1:52
  • Do you have a voltmeter and access to outlets on both legs of the supply? Oct 21, 2019 at 2:43

1 Answer 1


You're frying a bunch of 120V electrical equipment. Undervoltage doesn't fry equipment. Overvoltage does!

This is a lost neutral problem

It may be that way from the power company from the power drop. In which case it would not be the electricians' fault, except they should have detected it.

Your house has two electrical poles or phases coming in. Any modern panel will separate them like this, so it's a little byzantine (especially with double-stuff breakers) but it's possible to decode. Anyway, you want to find two receptacle circuits on opposite poles. Measure their voltages.

119.3/119.9 -- that is pretty normal. However if you see

105.2/133.4 -- that is the indication of a lost neutral.

The surest way to flush out a lost neutral is to measure one pole while you put a big fat 120V load like a hair dryer on the other. The dead giveaway of a lost neutral, is the unloaded leg will go up in voltage by several volts or more.

It's possibly from the power company. The result is half your circuits are getting too much voltage, half get too little, and this changes frequently as loads change.

I have seen lost neutral issues affect several houses at once.

  • +1 and thanks for the tidbits on what voltages are suspect. Just sharing a quick note, believe it or not, undervoltage can "fry" (break) electronics too, it's just not as common, and usually inrush/spikes (the overvoltage condition) following a 'brown out' do most of the damage seen in these situations. Circuits that use microcontrollers, some switch mode power supplies, mosfets, voltage dividers, (some motors e.g. for cooling an otherwise hot semiconductor), are a few examples that may burnout in an undervoltage scenario.
    – noybman
    Oct 22, 2019 at 1:19

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