Please briefly explain why you feel this question should be reported.

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On Veterans day my daughter smelled smoke in her room. Her room is on the other side of the wall where my bedroom is. My bedroom is an addition to the original house and has the breaker box on the wall that separates our rooms. When she smelled smoke I immediately could tell it was electrical, it was faint but spread to my room also. I unplugged everything in my house, checked all receptacles with infrared laser thermometer, and smelled all equipment in my house. I then called my electrician and he checked everything. All good no more smell. We were uneasy but we went out to dinner that night because free steak for Veterans and I just had gotten out of the VA hospital from surgery. We came home and everyone went to bed. I was in alot of pain from surgery so I couldn’t sleep. Around 1 am I smelled the electrical burning smell again. I ran to my daughters room with infrared thermometer in hand and pointed it at the power receptacle by her bed and it was 160°. The cable outlet for our cable tv is right dead smack next to it and it was hotter. I ran over and yanked the coaxial cable out of the wall

(I didn’t touch the power outlet because there was nothing plugged into any outlets at that time because I pulled them all out earlier and it was too late to reorganize and plug everything back in)

The cable goes through the wall to her room and mine with an extension between the wall. When I pulled the cable it separated from the extender and the coaxial cable itself was burning and the plastic gang box was also. I turned around and looked at the end of the cable that was attached to the cable box and that end was burning also. Thank God I was awake. I had the cable techs, my electrician, and power company over first thing in am. Turns out that it was power company’s fault. They had a bad Neutral at the powerline outside my house (for my house) That bad Neutral caused my house ground to be Nullified. Power surges in the neighborhood were backfeeding into my house because of bad neutral. Since cable companies use the house ground to ground their system off of, all the power was backfeeding up the cable ground and into the house through the coaxial cables. The power company rewired my house and line feed like a new install. Cable company rewired and replaced all coaxial cable and equipment. My electrician checked and rechecked everything (every socket, everything). Power company said they will reimburse me for fried appliances etc..
All good, so I thought…

Yesterday, I started the process of replacing all my surge protectors and re organizing all cables and plugging entire house back in. I started with my daughters room. The power receptacle next to the cable outlet where all this started had a power strip and 5 items in it. The circuit also goes into the next room to one outlet (her brothers room) he has a power strip with a tv, xbox and playstation hooked to it.

I just bought a cyberpower wall tap with 6 outlets. I plugged in her tv, xbox, and new cable box then pop..breaker tripped. Reset it and it did it again. This breaker has never tripped before since I’ve owned the house (2015). I have no idea how old it is..

I am about to go get a amperage meter and check it. My question for you is this:

Could the power surges backfeeding into my house have damaged breakers? Is that possible? It did fry my new Samsung dryer and various things plugged into different outlets that day. Thank God power company admitted fault and is going to reimburse us. If I wasn’t up from the VA surgery, this story could have ended very differently.

I stopped putting the house back together at this point until I check the amperage, but like I said, I didn’t plug in half the stuff on that circuit yet and its tripping. Never tripped before. Should I just replace it to be sure? Hopefully this is the last issue. I don’t need anything else to happen.

Thanks Dom for whatever advice you can throw my way.

Robert C
U.S. Army Retired

Answer ( 1 )

  1. Please briefly explain why you feel this answer should be reported.


    Hi, so sorry to hear this. One thing you need to know. That when a neutral is no longer connected it will bring 220 to a 120 outlet. Also did they replace any breakers with a arc fault breaker. Yes I would start replacing breakers. Also and most important, get outlet tester. With one of these you can test that all the proper wires are there, connected and connected correctly.. Here is a link to one.