I purchased a house a few weeks ago and got the power connected about a week ago. The house has been empty and I leave all the circuit breakers off. The Meter is digital but the display doesn't seem to work. I can check online with a few days delay. I decided to check and to my surprise there's a 82 kw usage at a supposed rate of 27 kw a day. I immediately called the power company and they said that might be a deviation to ground. The outside main breaker is on.

Is this possible even when there's no power inside the house? If so how can I test where is this deviation at?

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  • 2
    If the display on your meter is broken, that is probably reason enough to ask them to repair or replace it.
    – Grant
    Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 20:28
  • One would think so. I did mention that but they didn't seem to care, since they read it remotely. They just told me to hire an electrician.
    – Rick
    Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 20:44
  • Is this an integrated panel/meter? Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 20:50
  • Not sure what you mean. The meter is outside. Next to it is the main breaker. Inside is the house within a few feet away is the circuit breaker box.
    – Rick
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 1:42
  • If you are in the USA the utility companies are regulated by a State public service commission (maybe by another name). If the utility seems disinterested in your complaint I would recommend calling your State legislator's office and file a complaint with them regarding the utility's behavior.
    – ArchonOSX
    Commented Nov 21, 2015 at 11:35

2 Answers 2


If you have all of the other breakers turned off and the ONLY thing that is on is the Main breaker, then there is a problem between the main and the rest of the breakers, or between the meter and the main. If you have even 1kWH of power use when the Main breeaker is open, then that says there is a problem with the meter, socket or wiring after the meter. Given that the meter display is also non-functional, I'm going to go out on a limb and say it's a meter problem. If your main breaker is open, there is no way that there should be ANY power consumption whatsoever, not even 1kWh.

Another possibility however: Often times someone will tap into a neighbor's line, AFTER the meter, to siphon off power for things like grow lights for their pot plants. It's rare, but it happens because Law Enforcement can sometimes track down grow operations by monitoring power use so they steal power from neighbors to avoid detection. Look for evidence of a hidden extension cord or wiring that has been added when the house was abandoned. Thieves can be very clever in that respect. The drop to 1kWh may be the result of them seeing you looking at it so they curtailed their activity until you give up. In fact they may have damaged the meter display so that you could not see it running when all of your breakers were off.


With the main breaker on there is no guaranty. The ONLY way to be sure is if any and all main breakers are off.

  • Agree. Turn the main breaker off and then check in a few days.
    – user20127
    Commented Aug 22, 2015 at 22:42
  • Turned the main breaker off today. If it doesn't change would the problem be between the main breaker and circuit breaker box? What could cause this?
    – Rick
    Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 0:11
  • 1
    A "soft" or resistive short hot-ground or hot-neutral could cause this, not enough to trip the main breaker. Commented Aug 23, 2015 at 0:20
  • Since I turned off the main breaker I haven't been able to check online as it reads 0. I'll go during this week and try to read the meter. Is there any way I can test where this short is as it seems it may be between the meter and fuse box?
    – Rick
    Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 1:45
  • It is HIGHLY unlikely that there is a "short" between the meter and fuse/breaker panel. I really think you need to have someone come in and check this out. Typically the utility will send someone if you complain about a high bill or a meter reading with everything off. Commented Aug 24, 2015 at 11:32

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