Mysterious electricity drain

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Stuart Wright, Feb 24, 2014.

  1. Stuart Wright

    Stuart Wright
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    So as a prelude to having solar panels, I installed an Eco-eye energy meter. It's been very predictable. .7 kW during the night. 1.2ish kW during the day. Spikes up to 3.5 kW when we put the kettle on. That sort of thing.
    So tonight we were securing the house before bed and I noticed a 2.5 kW load somewhere. Over 3 in total.
    We walked around the house checking but couldn't find anything on.
    I started switching each of the circuit breakers off in the fuse box.
    One 16amp unmarked breaker cut the load down to the predictable 1 kW.. I switched it back on again and the load went back up to 3.5 kW for a few seconds and then back down to 1 kW. I left that breaker off and we can't find anything not working in the house. No idea what it does.

    We live in a detached house and I can't imagine any of the neighbours could possibly tap into our supply.

    Anyone come across a scenario anything like this before?
     
    Last edited: Feb 24, 2014
  2. leckytech

    leckytech
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    Electric immersion heater?
     
  3. DarenD

    DarenD
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    Old shower cable, alarm system or hard wired smoke alarms?

    Or a small family of Bulgarians in the shed maybe?
     
  4. leckytech

    leckytech
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    2kw smoke alarm?
     
  5. DarenD

    DarenD
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    Yer probably not. More likely a heat source for 2kw.
     
  6. snaithg

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    I also give my vote for an electric immersion heater! These are often accidentally left switched on even though the central heating boiler is the normal source for heating the hot water cylinder.


    Graham.
     
  7. Stuart Wright

    Stuart Wright
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    None of the above. We don't have an electric immersion heater which is plugged in. If it was on a timer, we would have noticed it before.
    We haven't found anything not working, yet. Won't be able to trace the cable out of breaker 8 either as it probably disappears into the ceiling.
     
  8. snaithg

    snaithg
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    Must be Gremlins then! Pesky little things.


    Graham.
     
  9. hyperfish

    hyperfish
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    Peak on start up then a drops off, seems like motor(s) of some kind.

    Fridge, freezer, heating pump?
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2014
  10. snaithg

    snaithg
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    16amp breakers are usually used for "spurs" such as out-houses, sheds, bathrooms, outside power sockets etc.


    Graham
     
  11. nheather

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    2.5kW is a hefty load for a single item - the only thing I could think to cause that is some sort of heater being left on.

    I say this hesitently because although it does happen I simple can't imagine it in any of the places I have lived - the possibility that your electricity is being tapped (what are your neighbours like).

    What is odd is that you mentioned that it was more or less permanent and then when you flipped the breaker it dropped, then came back for a moment before dropping to zero. I wouldn't worry about transitory spikes because you do get abnormal loads when items such as motors start up.

    If you are unsure what is on that circuit and the load is permanent I would leave it switched off until you can find out what is on that circuit.

    If you have an RCCB in your fuse box it won't be down to some electrical fault (like a short circuit) because that would trigger the protection circuitry and either shutdown the 16A circuit or the whole houshold supply.

    It does sound like an immersion heater to me - the right power and they are very easy to leave on - I'm trying, unsuccessfully, to train my family to turn it off after they've used it to boost the hot water for a shower.

    Cheers,

    Nigel
     
  12. Cliff

    Cliff
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    Just to be clear, your energy meter is reading kW and not kWh ?
    The figures seem a bit high e.g. 1 kw being normal

    I am sure you have done this anyway, but when you switch off the main breaker does the meter reads zero? Switch off everything in the house and then turn breakers on one by one and double check it is just that 16A that is the culprit.

    Is there anything in the loft? Any deep freezes, water pumps, fridges, or outside halogen lamps?
     
  13. Epicurus

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    How's your milk this morning? :D
     
  14. leckytech

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    Same difference as far as an energy meter is concerned unless it's displaying kwh's used which as per op it isn't
     
  15. SteveCritten

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    Have to agree that sort of power has to be something with a heating element ie kettle, immersion etc are you sure the local drug dealer doesn't have a grow in your loft :D
     
  16. Digital Tench

    Digital Tench
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    I think you mean radial - a spur, by very definition is spurred off an existing circuit and would not have its own OCPD in the CU.

    Pump for sewage or something?

     
  17. Flimber

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    A lot of your neighbours have sizeable swimming pools, mate. They don't heat themselves. It's very possible that you've been tapped. It's not unknown.
     
  18. EarthRod

    EarthRod
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    Leave the 16 amp breaker switched off.

    See what happens...
     
  19. nheather

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    As it only appears to be on the 16A circuit I would look to find out where that goes and what it does.

    I would have thought that it is not so easy for someone to tap into a circuit after the consumer unit as this would usually mean accessing your house - many newer builds have external meter boxes so that would be easier.

    However, if you 16A is serving outside or a garage then it becomes a lot easier to tap into.

    Cheers,

    Nigel
     
  20. Flimber

    Flimber
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    I think the house was empty for a while before SW moved in (?)
     
  21. leckytech

    leckytech
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    ^ yip, this is the most logical route to follow
     
  22. True Romance

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    It's not a forum member that has found your house and now firing up your HC each night ;)
     
  23. IronGiant

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    It may be logical to do that, but if his toilets overflow because he's switched off the pump room for the communal sewage pump house he could be in a world of pain :)

    Do check that the pumps still have power when you switch that breaker off Stuart.

    I assume you have checked it is nothing to do with your pool?
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2014
  24. aVdub

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    I was thinking similar and sure I remember Stuart posting a thread about a sewage system, or along them lines in his garden a while back.
     
  25. HouseTonyStark

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    I bet he left his. Av receiver on.
     
  26. its_all_Greek

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    I'd be surprised if Stuarts pump station is fed of a 16A breaker especially if i remember rightly its a duty/assist arrangement as opposed to a Duty/standby where both pumps can run together, I also seem to remember it was a 3phase supply for the pump station and not single phase.

    Try asking your usual electrician if he has a "circuit tracer" to try to find out where the 16A supply goes.
     
  27. has2mow

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    Hot tub?
     
  28. uzer

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    Would indicate to me a short somewhere on that breaker circuit.

    Let me expand on that. 2-2.5 kW is quite the jump. And if you have thrown out the possibility of a heater or hidden loft with 2000 watts worth of bulbs on that really leaves someone stealing and a short somewhere that is drawing power off your grid. Like energizing some piping or the likes.

    I'd guess a short before I'd guess theft.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2014
  29. nheather

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    But a short would trip the breaker - I'm assuming there is one as most cosumer units have a built in RCCB these days. Failing that, 2.5kW is a lot of power for a continous short. If it wasn't tripping a breaker something would be getting very hot and burning.

    Cheers,

    Nigel
     
  30. uzer

    uzer
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    Yea, I thought about mentioning that. And usually it would trip the breaker. But in the instance I'm referencing a bunch of years ago we had a foreclosed home that we were stripping down and building back up and somewhere along the line a wire became rusted/soldered to a drainage pipe. We only found the issue when we were putting in a sewage pump and blew the breaker (with some sparks) when a drive bit fell on the run off pipe. It was a low enough current and a large enough object that it wasn't hot, just energized and warm.

    In retrospect and after having an electrician take a peek we figured that the shorted wire had soldered itself to the pipe after numerous shorts and subsequent heat flashes from us resetting the breaker numerous times.

    I don't suspect this is what's happening with the OP as it'd be like a perfect storm of things that'd need to happen, just that it's possible and more likely IMO then someone tapping into his power and stealing it. Just seems like a lot of work/risk for someone to steal such a low amount of power.
     

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