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Did You Use Your Lamps

It was one of those quiet evenings, the kind that you look forward to.

As welcome as quiet shifts are, there’s always that tendency for complacency to settle in.

Since troubleshooters rarely have a need or want to have a supervisor on their location. The call, a request from the troubleshooter to meet on a location, was usually a code for “There’s a problem.”

The job was a no-light call at a home in an area that was very familiar to me, having worked there many times throughout my career. This was true of both troubleshooters as they, each, had their share of experience working there. And both had been members of my crew on a number of those jobs.

The job was in an upscale location supplied by 4kV Overhead single-phase transformers. The area also had a fair share of well-to-do residents with extravagant homes. Many of the homes had special equipment that required Open Delta (120;240;208V) systems for service.

Arriving on location, I noticed that the house service was 4w1/0 Al. The secondary was 4- 4/0 open wire but the two transformers on the block were single-phase.

The two troubleshooters were in the house speaking with homeowner, who was pretty upset. There was a distinct smell and a slight haze as I entered the home. Looking around, there were two lights on in the kitchen area. However, the recessed low voltage ceiling lights throughout the remaining open concept dining and living area were all out. The distinct odor was the scent of burned-out transformers from the lighting system.

The workers explained that they had changed all the connections at the weather head. The service supplied the house through a 4-wire meter connection into an interior end line box and which then fed the standard 220V breaker panel.

At some point, the need for the third leg was removed and the homeowner’s electrician had disconnected, and test capped the high leg in the pull box. When the connections were replaced at the standpipe, two legs were swapped and sending a surge of 208 volts through the affected circuits.

I explained the situation and apologized for the inconvenience to the homeowner, informing her to have an electrician make the necessary repairs and that the company would reimburse her for the cost.

Prior to heading back to the office to file the necessary reports, I did have several questions for the two experienced troubleshooters.

Chief among them was, “Did you use your lamps?”

Terry Bellew

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