[TowerTalk] [Grounding of tower

K8RI K8RI-on-TowerTalk at tm.net
Sat May 11 17:43:39 EDT 2013

On 5/11/2013 9:10 AM, W2RU - Bud Hippisley wrote:
> On May 11, 2013, at 7:51 41AM, "K1TTT" <K1TTT at ARRL.NET> wrote:
>> Consider this example... my neighbor had a broken ground in the wire
>> overhead from the transformer to his entrance panel.  There are ground rods
>> at the pole and at his entrance as required.  When a big load on one side of
>> the line started, like a refrigerator, that leg browned out but the other
>> leg of the 220 would get up to about 200v and blow out stuff on that circuit
>> due to the overvoltage.  Obviously there wasn't enough return current
>> through the ground, even over that relatively short distance, to keep the
>> supply balanced.
> This can happen in an _underground_ distribution system, as well.  Our home -- originally a seasonal summer camp -- was first electrified in the '50s with an underground single-phase 110-0-110 3-wire feed from a shared distribution transformer to the entrance panel.  The shortest path from the distribution wires and transformer to the camp was diagonally across the dirt driveway and part of my parking area.

I had this happen this week.

About 1:30 AM I sat here listening to 40 and surfing the internet.
There was a tremendous bang, but more of a "Boom" through the headset. 
It was loud enough I was reaching to grab the headset off, but 
immediately following the boom, it got real dark in here.

Still I saw light coming from the hall.

Troubleshooting a panel with one hand is... well... exasperating and I 
was getting strange readings with my DVM and they were unstable.
It appeared the one line was low and varying

So it was out to the shop to get the Simpson 250.
Now that line was dead.  I said, This can't be good.

Consumers made it out in the morning, said the problem was underground 
and somebody would be out to fix it soon.

They made it at 1:00 PM.
The one hot feed that wasn't broke at the base of the pole (underground) 
where it turns 90 deg to enter the conduit.
Around here they figure the frost line is 3 feet.  Last winter it was 
less than a foot.


Roger (K8RI)

> It's well known by contractors and life-long residents here in the frozen north that snow-plowing a driveway and driving on it all winter long "drives the frost line deeper into the ground", but back in the '50s all the properties in our neighborhood were seasonal so underground utilities were seldom more than a foot or two below the surface.  (Our present building codes assume a frost depth of at least 4.5 feet.)  By 2000, probably half of the dwellings, including ours, had become year-round.
> And so, about five years ago, we experienced the same fate as Dave's neighbor.  In our case, the constant shifting of the driveway frost line eventually caused the buried neutral to break in half.  (According to the power company crew, the shifting frost line causes rocks and gravel beneath the surface to move enough to repetitively stress the wire until it snaps.)  As Dave noted, if the ground characteristics at 60 Hz are high-resistance, a big load (in our case, probably either our refrigerator compressor or our well pump turning on) on one side of the line will cause the other leg to rise to nearly the full 220 volts of the single-phase feed.   We lost a microwave and a bunch of other household items in that little "event".
> Once the power company located the problem, I immediately hired an excavation contractor and an electrician to re-route my entrance cable so it skirted my entire driveway and parking area.  They were required to coordinate with someone from the power company who had to be on-site for the re-connection to the distribution transformer and back-filling of the trench.  My difficulties in getting all three people to show up at the same time were seemingly never-ending.  Let me simply say that scheduling that meeting was the most difficult part of the process (other than ponying up "mucho" dollars), but I have never regretted having the power line installation finally done right.
> Bud, W2RU
> _______________________________________________
> _______________________________________________
> TowerTalk mailing list
> TowerTalk at contesting.com
> http://lists.contesting.com/mailman/listinfo/towertalk

More information about the TowerTalk mailing list