I'm in an old house that has been mostly rewired in the last 15 years. I am in the USA so the power should be 110V, 220V but that is not the case. All day and night the power surges from 110V to 140V for about 6 seconds then back down again. If i unplug the 3 prong outlet from the 110V stove the power in the kitchen drops to 75V and the rest of the house goes to 170V. I tested the power coming up to the apartment and it checked out perfect. When I tested the main lines coming into the breaker panel and one side is 110V and one is 140V. I pulled the main breaker and checked them again and there is no voltage at all coming into the box when the fuse is pulled. Everything I know from dealing with electric service says none of this should even work. Also I noticed a gas leak a couple weeks ago. The copper gas line was up against an old gas line and had arched a hole right through the copper. Not sure if that helps but any ideas at this point are welcome.

  • 5
    This is not a simple "i have a dead outlet" problem. This is a "faulty wiring ignited a gas leak that leveled two blocks and killed a sleeping family with three small children" problem. Call professional gas service and an electrician immediately.
    – longneck
    Apr 3, 2014 at 12:21
  • You had arcing burn a hole in a GAS line and are still in the building? It worries me that your profile says last seen Apr 3rd.
    – Grant
    Apr 9, 2014 at 3:39
  • Any update on what was wrong?
    – Grant
    Apr 19, 2014 at 3:25

3 Answers 3


You have an open or compromised service neutral.

PLEASE call your power company immediately to have them check their connections.

It is also very possible you'll need an electrician to check/repair/replace the terminations in the meter pan.

I have to ask, do you own this house? If not then calling your landlord is your ONLY option.

  • Depending on local laws, if a landlord won't fix an unsafe situation in a timely manner, the tenant may be able to hire someone to fix it and bill it back to the landlord, or can terminate the lease and leave. Though he'd better have some good documentation about the unsafe condition before doing so.
    – Johnny
    Apr 2, 2014 at 16:16
  • 1
    Withholding rent to pay for repairs should be a last-resort. In some locations it's legal but then also legal for the landlord to sue for unpaid rent.
    – Hank
    Apr 2, 2014 at 16:41
  • I am renting the apartment from a friend and i told him i would look into the problem and see if i can find a solution for him. So if i was to re run the common to the source panel that could solve the issues?
    – Paddydiver
    Apr 3, 2014 at 2:15
  • 7
    NO! THIS IS NOT SOMETHING YOU CAN FIX YOURSELF. Considering the nature of this situation I must refrain from further advice. Apr 3, 2014 at 2:27
  • 1
    @Paddydiver: I would say you have gone above and beyond your obligation as a tenant by identifying the likely cause of the problem. You can let your friend/landlord know that an electrician needs to fix the problem.
    – Hank
    Apr 3, 2014 at 3:41

It sounds like a floating neutral because the box was not properly earthed. A main breaker panel needs a good earth of appropriate guage. It is where earth and neutral are tied. A sub panel usually does not have earth and neutral tied.

The voltage problem was an unbalance of the load on the two legs.


I ran a new ground to the box and everything works great. Thanks for the help. I guess I left out that I'm not a novice when it comes to electrical I have ran many new wires, boxes, hookups, etc. just never ran across this problem before.

  • 1
    The fact that you say that you ran a new ground and not a new neutral wire scares me. Please please please call an electrician to check what you have done! You obviously know less than you think!
    – DoxyLover
    Apr 20, 2014 at 19:07
  • 4
    While this is safer than before (and less likely to damage your appliances), this is not an appropriate solution. Now, the neutral current is flowing through the literal earth to the transformer. Te earth isn't conductive enough for this purpose (I expect that there is a significant voltage drop between your house's neutral and the transformer's neutral which changes with weather). A good electrical connection is needed for neutral. It's likely that the power company is the appropriate authority to fix it, but they will need to be involved since you need to disconnect your electrical service.
    – Pigrew
    Apr 20, 2014 at 20:09

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