Bad neutral = high power consumption?
I have a rental property where the KWH usage has gone through the roof over the past few months. I went to the property and started nosing around. I was planning to check for loose connections at the breakers. Instead, I identified a bad neutral in the meter box/main panel outside the house.
I found the problem when I used a meter for my initial exploration. When I touched it between hot and neutral, I got instant and massive fireworks. The same thing happened when I touched one lead to hot and the other lead to the box itself.
My questions: Is it possible for a fault in neutral to cause highly increased electrical consumption? Is there any realistic way of estimating the amount of electricity being wasted by something like this?
I should advise the neutral problem was resolved by an emergency electrician and my regular electrician will be investigating in detail next week. Also, the tenant never noticed power surges in the house and his computer UPS software never recorded any.