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Routers keep going kaput!!!

Posted on 2011-05-12
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Last Modified: 2012-05-11
I support a client who has a number of one man sub-offices where people work from home.

One sub-office is a garden shed converted into a tiny office with modem, router, pc, printer and scanner.

About four months ago the Netgear router and D-Link DSL modem, which were both about three years old and inherited from a larger office, blew at the same time. IIRC one was completely dead and the other just displayed the power light but could not connect to any devices.

I replaced these with a 2wire 2700 modem/router and the other day this blew with only the power light flashing red instead of green. I'm told this means it's dead, beyond resusitation.  Then, shortly afterwards the psu on the computer blew.

The user's husband is an electrician by profession and he tells me he has completely checked everything out, however, I'd be relunctant to ask him to rewire my house based on this.

Could he be telling the truth, are we missing something really obvious? I would imagine only some sort of enormous spike could cause this, but he tells me the shed is surge protected.

Any ideas would be greatly appreciated before I run out of routers and PSUs to give them.  
 
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Question by:mikeabc27
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John Hurst earned 2000 total points
ID: 35748136
Check the voltage at the shed. It could be routinely too high, and/or, improperly grounded. A surge protector will not protect against steady over-voltage.

If still in a quandry, consider putting in a decent UPS and running the sub-office only on the UPS. Check voltage first, and have a different electrician check for power quality (spikes, harmonics, noise). Just don't plug a new UPS into a power circuit that will blow it up.

You are using the correct voltage equipment matched your mains voltage?  I'm sure you must be.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:emilgas
ID: 35748210
You should use a APC UPS Backup. The cheapest one will do it for now. That way you will protect your network equipment and see what goes bad, the UPS backup or the other stuff.

UPS Backups aren't expensive, That would be a good start in my opinion.
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by:mikeabc27
ID: 35748291
Thanks, I assume they have grounded it properly and checked the voltage, but passed your comments on for them to get back to me.

Would infrequent over voltages be easy to check?
 
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by:John Hurst
ID: 35748345
You would need a Hi-Low Meter to check so that you could attach it, let it sit, and then see what happens.

Based on what you wrote initially, I would get a good, qualified, second electician to help you. There is safety involved as well as your gear. ... Thinkpads_User
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Author Comment

by:mikeabc27
ID: 35748705
Thanks thinkpads user, a second electrician has looked at it (he works for the company) and I will be talking to him tomorrow.
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by:MikeTheNerd
ID: 35749223
If you do go with a UPS, APC has software (PowerChute) that can monitor the UPS and let you know what events are triggering a protection mode.  I installed it and forgot about it until the power in my office began bouncing.  The lights didn't even flinch, but the software was showing a line fluctuation that I was able use and report the problem to maintenance.
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by:mikeabc27
ID: 35749641
Good point about the Powerchute. I've only seen one APC blow up and that was 1200 or 1500va, but it was around three years old.

Wouldn't it a better to check the voltage via a tester rather than risking a UPS?
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by:John Hurst
ID: 35749742
>>> Wouldn't it a better to check the voltage via a tester rather than risking a UPS?

Yes!   I have a client (one amongst many) where the APC UPS was aging, and I replaced it rather than spend almost as much on replacement batteries. On installation and frequently thereafter, one of the orange signal lights lights up. It is an over/under voltage indicator. I took a decent meter in and discovered that building tends to run a bit over 125 volts. 117V RMS is centerline, 120V is normal and 125V is high. It has not damaged anything and is not constant.

However, in your case, I would test the lines and distribution before risking a UPS on top of what you have lost.

... Thinkpads_User
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by:aleghart
ID: 35750369
A garden shed is a detached structure.  The electrical system should not have it's own ground, but _must_ be BONDED to the main house's electrical panel.  So, there should be at least hot, neutral, ground, with a neutral bar isolator in the panel.  The neutral bar cannot be screwed directly into the panel...there's a plastic spacer that keeps neutral separate from ground.

Then, check that there is a proper ground wire run from the house electrical panel to the telco's MPOE.  Older metal boxes have a carbon block. Don't know what's in the newer ones, but the grounding screw is easy to see.  The phone company can replace old metal boxes with a new NID for free.  I had this done at two different houses to reduce the amount of troubleshooting.

Check the grounds also.  I was in one house that was a DIY job with a ground wire clamped to a water pipe on the outside of the house.  In another, they clamped to a water pipe under the house, but the pipes were not grounded to the panel, and the water main had been replaced with PVC...so no iron pipe in the ground.

Without proper grounding and bonding, you could find stray current passing through your equipment (or your person) in an effort to reach ground.
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by:mccracky
ID: 35750986
I would hazard a guess that it's more likely under voltage causing problems.  

Get a good UPS that can handle input voltages from 85V to 130V.  Lower voltages can cause higher currents in the equipment.   Or get a voltage regulator (not surge protector).  

(This is standard procedure if you want your equipment to last in some "third-world" places I've been.)
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by:rfportilla
ID: 35751690
He really needs a UPS.  This will fix it.

Another possible cause is that the shed is underpowered.  This can burn out electronics as well.
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Author Comment

by:mikeabc27
ID: 35752978
Great ideas guys and I have passed everyone of them on.

With every respect to those who have suggested a UPS as the first option, I do feel it may be prudent to have them test everything first. However I would add APC were excellent in shipping a free replacement battery particularly when it had just exceeded it's 36 months warranty.

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by:rfportilla
ID: 35754337
A cheap ups is $50.  Risk it over replacing computer parts.
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by:NetFixr-Dani
ID: 35754360
Have you considered temperature?  What is the ventilation like in the shed, is it possible that it remains enclosed over the weekend, cooking everything inside?

- Dani


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Author Comment

by:mikeabc27
ID: 35754849
I know I could buy a really cheapo UPS, but would prefer APC Smart UPS with Powerchute.

NF Dani -Interesting point - but working there yesterday it was well ventilated and it was around 50 degrees F when the 2 routers failed and only around 65 earlier this week.

 
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by:John Hurst
ID: 35911333
There have been a number of comments. I think answers #35748136 and #35750369 cover most of the subject matter. Also mikeabc27 has acknowleged the answers. ... Thinkpads_User
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Author Closing Comment

by:mikeabc27
ID: 35914714
Apologies for delay in closing - I passed on all the information to the clients.

Nobody bothered to get back to me and I'm sure they won't until it happens again and they're faced with a bill.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 35914788
Thank you and thanks for the update. ... Thinkpads_User
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