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Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

I live in a fairly small apartment on the 1st floor of a building. The HVAC system rarely needs to run due to the insulation provided by units above and around it. The kWh usage has always seemed high compared to similar dwellings in the past, but I unfortunately never investigated further.

I recently measured current on the individual feeders and found a 240 VAC circuit with 7 A of current flow. I had all possible 240 VAC loads de-energized. I switched the breaker off and found that maintenance came in the next day to switch it back on. I requested more information and found that this circuit was mis-wired to the apartment above mine and would be repaired soon.

Since this has been the case for an 18 month period (no new wiring modifications during my stay), even if the circuit was energized only 6 hours per day, this has consumed an additional 3600 kWh per year or nearly $500/year at typical rates. What is my best approach to take? Am I out of luck due to their wiring error?

RE: Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

Hello 111R,

In my view, yours is a legal/personal/financial problem, not an engineering question.

You seem to have enough information to make a good case for recovering some or even all of your out-of-pocket costs; go make it to whomever you best deem appropriate.If your efforts are misdirected, trial and error will soon reveal that to you.

I wish you success.


"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." [Proverbs 27:17, NIV]

RE: Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

Is this for rent? Have the landlord get involved- his responsibility.

The sad fact this is not unheard of in apartments, be it intentional or accidental. Because the error is on the load side of the meter, all power is accounted for so the power company will probably not take any action or have concern. That leaves the landlord or condo association. What action they decide to take is entirely up to them. Technically they are not responsible unless its deliberate premeditated theft.

If you really want to be re-reimbursed and no one is taking you seriously your only option is an attorney, but even then it may be difficult to hold anyone responsible.

RE: Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

It's possible the building manager/owner is just guessing what the individual apartment loads are, or applying some formula per square foot for billing. If that's the case it would have no impact on your bill. If they are metering each apartment service separately that probably isn't the case. If it is formula based good luck getting any real info out of them - but at least your bill will just have the regular level of fraud applied to it like everyone else :)

RE: Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

Ask the manager for an an adjustment. Follow up with a letter. "This will confirm our recent conversation etc."
If you do not get a reasonable response, consider turning the breaker off again.

"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit


I switched the breaker off and found that maintenance came in the next day to switch it back on.

Bill may have a point...

If requesting an adjustment in writing fails, is this panel within your apartment?

If so, are "maintenance" letting themselves into your unit in your absence?

If they are, can you change the lock on the door to your unit?

If you can't change the lock and they keep closing the breaker back in without your consent, are you willing to go to war by not only opening the breaker but cutting and removing [or having cut and removed, if you yourself cannot do so safely] the wires to the foreign load so as to render them not readily re-connectable?

Or am I being too militant?


"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." [Proverbs 27:17, NIV]

RE: Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

Just to add- be careful. In many areas it is illegal for a tenant to work on electrical. Lease may specifically forbid it as well.

Turning off the however is ok in my book.

RE: Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

If it is illegal for the tenant to either perform electrical work or have it performed on his behalf and the tenant is charged for violating such a statute, at the very least the tenant would be in a position to argue before a court of law that he made every effort to bring an end to the power theft that was taking place at his expense, but in the end was left with no other recourse as the theft was continuous and ongoing...


"As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another." [Proverbs 27:17, NIV]

RE: Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

If I was the judged I would agree with you. However come real world the legal justice system doesn't always see it that way. Best option is to generate evidence either through video, writing and so forth.

I know I am a giant pessimist in this thread (pessimists are rarely disappointed... tongue joking folks, joking) on the surface, however that does not stop me from holding the opinion that that the OP needs to put up a fight if they are paying that bill. The key is doing it such that in the eyes of the law all fault rests in the landlord with the tenant being the victim. And with due diligence that is certainly possible.

RE: Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

I suggest you carefully log and document all your attempts at correcting this as it will likely come down to someone looking at your efforts as methodical and rational and that someone is "gaining from this misappropriation of your power".

I had the same exact issue at a commercial location. After turning off every last thing in my facility I still had a spinning meter. It turned out they were sucking the 'house' load from my bay in the building. So all the parking lot lights were on my bill. I wanted a ground pulled to my facility so I separated the house loads off onto a breaker in a box next to the service drop and ran the needed ground all on the landlord's dollar. I was probably screwed a bit, but the problem at least ended.

Keith Cress
kcress - http://www.flaminsystems.com

RE: Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

I ran into a similar but somewhat bizarre situation.
This was a small hotel. The owner had a small apartment in one corner of the building.
Residential, small users were heavily subsidized by the tariffs.
I was trouble shooting a pump and was having trouble isolating the power feed.
It turned out that someone had installed a hidden wire to steal power from the hotel.
But the same man owned the hotel.
There were no subsidies for commercial power.
Expensive power was being stolen to replace much cheaper power, with the owner paying the bill.

"Why not the best?"
Jimmy Carter

RE: Mis-Wired Apartment Circuit

In my area, usually the apartment owner is responsible for the electrical panel in the unit. So there's likely nothing wrong with you throwing the breaker off, and, in my area, it would be wrong for maintenance to let themselves in to work on the panel.

For example, if you needed to replace or repair the panel, its the apartment owner that will probably have to pay for that, not the building management. Throwing a breaker does not count as 'doing electrical work'.

Unless each apartment is metered individually i doubt any of this matters to you.

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