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Old 10-15-2013, 02:40 PM  
tk3000
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Default Condominium Irreguar Electrical Situation

Hello Folks,
Unfortunately I happen to live in a condominium (moved in 3 years ago) whereon the so called board delays, ignores, or simply refuses to fulfill their obligations. In all the buildings the carriage house provides electricity to the outside lighting and internally to the garages (four garages per building), but I found out that in my case there is a seemingly very irregular situation: the carriage house in my building was vacant for a long time (even before I moved in), and apparently someone (no one knows who and when or even if that happen, but it is an assumption) in the board made a decision of using my electricity (before I even own the unit) to feed the garage's doors with power. So basically I have been providing free electricity for the garage for over 3 years and was paying the normal association fee (without any deduction) and having a very irregular situation.

How I found about such situation is the most disturbing part of it: it was by chance which then created awareness about a seemingly dangerous and very irregular situation. There is outside light on my deck for what the bulb socket was too corroded, thus I planned to replace it with which then require the turning off the circuit breaker switch for a certain breaker branch (basement branch). Since I did not know which circuit breaker to turn off I simple turned off all of the circuit breakers, but to my surprise not only was the bulb socket in my deck still live but all the power on my basement was still on; that was true even when I turned off not only the all the different circuit breakers but also the top main circuit breaker switch. At first I assumed that one circuit breaker switch was bad, but then one would have to take into account the fact that turning the single top main breaker switch off (open) would turn off the power to all the other breakers (bathroom, bedroom, etc, would be off), but the basement would still be on. Moral of the story, it seems that there is no circuit breaker switch for the basement branch and it is directly connected to the power rails and neutral bar, not only that but using my clamp amp meter I found out that whenever I turn the light in the garage on the an increase in current in that branch of the circuit (basement branch) thus I deduced that my unit is also feeding power to the garage unbeknownst to me till recently (which then indicates that the association [hoa] at some point in time hooked up my basement branch to the garages of the building in order to feed all garages with power)

Any advices and ideas on how to proceed would be very welcome.

tk3000



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Old 10-15-2013, 04:22 PM  
JoeD
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Your description seems to indicate the opposite. You turn off you main breaker and the lights stay on. How did you determine it is connected directly the buss bars? It still should have gone off with the main. It is more likely it is being fed from a different panel.
Do this test. Turn off the main breaker and then turn on a bunch of lights a stuff in the basement on the circuit that still live. Go check your meter and see if it is turning. High wattage stuff like heaters will make it spin faster.



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Old 10-15-2013, 10:32 PM  
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Your description seems to indicate the opposite. You turn off you main breaker and the lights stay on. How did you determine it is connected directly the buss bars? It still should have gone off with the main. It is more likely it is being fed from a different panel.
Do this test. Turn off the main breaker and then turn on a bunch of lights a stuff in the basement on the circuit that still live. Go check your meter and see if it is turning. High wattage stuff like heaters will make it spin faster.
Thanks for your response. I thought about the possibility of a different panel at first, but I looked all over and could not find anything. Couldn't it be connected directly to the live wires that go to the main switch instead of the bus bars? I will perform the test you suggested tomorrow.
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Old 11-03-2013, 05:03 AM  
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Thank you for all your insights, and sorry for the delay in my follow up.

I did perform some tests. The ligths and garage openers are all connected to the same circuit. So basically that is what I did: turned all the circuit breaker switches to the off (open) position including the main top circuit breaker switch, and usual the lights in my basement were still on and the power in the garages was on as well, and as I pointed out before I could measure an increase in amps (amp clamp meter) in the basement branch of the circuit whenever I would turn the lights in the garage on; so I then decided to overload the circuit in my basement by turning everything on at the same time (large electrical heater, powerful vacuum, etc), and to my surprise all of a sudden everything turned off as if a circuit breaker switch had tripped due to the overload. The conclusion would be that somebody's else circuit's breaker tripped (and that somebody was providing power to my basement and the garages), but then an odd thing happened: I reconnected the breaker switch that was missing in my panel and turned all the breakers on again, and voila the power was back in my basement and the garages. It seems that the circuit in the garages are connected in parallel to my breaker panel (basement branch) and to somebody's else breaker panel at the same time.

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Old 11-03-2013, 07:33 AM  
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This is fascinating and humorous ... So YOU have been receiving power to your basement (and garage?) from someplace else? Not what your first post suggested.

Cool. Bad on them and you get free power?

Since you managed to kill the basement power, you should have replaced the light fixture.

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Old 11-03-2013, 08:06 AM  
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And now since you connected it to your panel you could be providing power to someone else if that circuit goes devices as well as breaker panel in another condo.

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Old 11-03-2013, 11:02 PM  
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And if that other breaker gets turned on you have 50/50 chance that you will have 240 volts feeding all those items and a potential fire hazard. Turn off that breaker and a qualified person and the condo ***. involved. You may have found a problem that could put the whole building at risk and everything should be checked, not by a DIY guy. The liability risk is too high.

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Old 11-05-2013, 11:05 AM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CallMeVilla View Post
This is fascinating and humorous ... So YOU have been receiving power to your basement (and garage?) from someplace else? Not what your first post suggested.

Cool. Bad on them and you get free power?

Since you managed to kill the basement power, you should have replaced the light fixture.

Yeah, apparently I was receiving power from someone's else. I was considering that possibility at very first, but it seemed so absurd that I could not conceive such situation, but after the overload test it seems to be the only option. Yep, at least I can change the outside fixture now!
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Old 11-05-2013, 11:07 AM  
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And now since you connected it to your panel you could be providing power to someone else if that circuit goes devices as well as breaker panel in another condo.
Yep, now I am the donor. Crazy situation indeed. Big mistake buying a condo for some many reasons...
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Old 11-05-2013, 11:11 AM  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by nealtw View Post
And if that other breaker gets turned on you have 50/50 chance that you will have 240 volts feeding all those items and a potential fire hazard. Turn off that breaker and a qualified person and the condo ***. involved. You may have found a problem that could put the whole building at risk and everything should be checked, not by a DIY guy. The liability risk is too high.
Thanks for you important insights. I am not used to high voltage and grid power stuff, but I am versed in small circuit boards, components, etc, which is mostly small DC current. When two dc sources are connected in parallel they preserve the voltage, and increase the availability of amps; in series, the voltage would add up. Would two 120ACV in parallel (and I assume in phase since both should be at 60Hz), add up to 240ACV?


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