Surge: was neutral wire to blame?

2010-02-03 00:00

FAILURE to tighten a neutral wire properly could have been the cause of the high-voltage surge that destroyed appliances in the Chase Valley area on Monday.

That’s the opinion of an electrical engineer who spoke to The Witness yesterday, but asked that his name be withheld.

The engineer said that if the neutral wire in the cable had not been properly fastened, in what’s known as a “dry connection”, this may have given a reading that all was in order when the cable was tested.

“But over time a dry connection heats up and when the neutral subsequently fails, 380 volts go through the line instead of the normal voltage.” He said this would also occur if the neutral was cut.

The engineer, who said this was just a possible scenario, added that at 380 volts, light bulbs would be damaged. “If they haven’t popped and stopped working yet, they soon will.”

He said the risk of fire while the higher voltage is coming through the sockets is great and cited a case of a high-voltage surge that melted a cellphone charger that subsequently caught alight.


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