*FINAL UPDATE: This will be my final major update on this topic. I am confident this will provide some clarity to those that observed similar/identical problems.
So it has been a long road to get here. In order to diagnose this problem I have had to spend hours researching and consulting experts in these fields to grasp an understanding of this issue, as well as spent a few thousand dollars (Hardware, hiring professionals- ISP techs, multiple electricians etc). I have dealt with these issues for over two years, some have been going on much more than that.
Over the last week there has been a turn of events in diagnosing this. Essentially I had my electrician come by to replace some outlets, and do one last run through of checking my grounding and connections. Well in the process of doing the work around here he took some measurements (ones he and another electrician had takin before). He found an issue and it has illuminated much of the problem. I will include his write up to me for clarity:
"The issues you are experiencing in your house have at least 2 different causes.
The main cause is that the connections in your meter base are failing and the neutral connection has corrosion and rust forming on the lugs, creating a higher impedance path for the unbalanced return current back to the utility transformer. This connection has been becoming worse over time, and is exasperated when there are higher loads on in your house and how wet the inside of the meter base is (and also the ambient temperature outside to some extent). When a neutral connection heading back to the utility power source (the transformer in the alley) begins to degrade, the current will try harder to get back to the transformer in any way it can.
In a basic electrical setup as with your house, the power comes in from the utility, through the electrical meter, then to your main electrical panel. At the electrical panel the neutral conductor is bonded (electrically connected) to the metal panel enclosure, grounding means (ground rods, water pipes, and others), and other metal systems in the house (again the metal water piping, gas piping, metallic drain lines, etc.). When the main neutral conductor from the utility is compromised, either on the utility side or in your meter base or main panel, the unbalanced return current will have a better path back to the transformer through your grounding means in your house. In your case, the metal water piping is connected to the metal water piping systems in the neighborhood, which also includes the water services that serve your neighbors. Current will travel on all available paths to get back to it’s source, and even with good grounding there is a bit of current that can accumulate from the surrounding electrical services from your neighbors and be imposed on your water lines. This level was measured at levels of 0.5amps to 2.5+amps yesterday when we were at your house. Please note that these readings were done with the power off to your house, so the origin of this current is from your neighbors.
This current is not especially safe for anyone working on the services, but can be mitigated with proper bonding and electrical installation code compliance in your home. The more I thought about your situation, the less I believe that the currents are coming from any one house, but rather a little bit from multiple homes. If the service neutral connection began to fail at a neighbor's house (which may be happening, but will require an assessment of all homes metallically connected to your home via the water piping) then the current on your water piping system will likely increase. As long as all the homes are connected via the metal water piping systems, this scenario is unavoidable.
Now back to your specific situation. Since the neutral connection in your meter base is failing, your house is also contributing to the current on the utility water piping. The currents are increasing on the water piping as the resistance of the neutral connection in the meter base increases. This is because the resistance of the water piping system is remaining constant (and fairly low I’m thinking) and the resistance of the neutral is increasing, which is creating an easier path back to the utility transformer via the water piping/neighbor's electrical service/neighbor’s electrical meter/then their service conductors to the transformer.
These currents your house is imposing on your water piping and grounding system is creating an increased EMF, and is likely the cause of your WIFI interruptions. Either way, you need to replace your meter base. On my first trip out the conditions must have be such that the currents on the grounding system were not high enough to measure, for when I put my meter on these locations there was no current. This type of troubleshooting relies on some minimal conditions to occur so they can be identified."
He worked with my adjacent neighbor to tighten their neutral connection up and although not ideal (neighbor owns a historic home so does not want to replace his connection) this made a large and very noticeable improvement to my problems; Wifi, computers, lights flickering, oven preheat time, etc. They are currently replacing our meter box, and mast connections to the power lines. I suspect this will help as well by lowering the impedance of our connections and getting more of the current across the water pipes off, as well as lowering our ground impedance. So basically from what I understand at times there was up to 15 amps on this piping, both going from my system and coming from neighbors systems. This affect creates fairly powerful EMF fields that seem to affect devices in this way. There could be more to the problem, kind of a compounding affect with the grounding of my devices possibly but I am fully confident this is the source of the issues. My other option apparently is to dig up a section of pipe at least 10 feet from my home and install a portion of plastic piping with dielectric unions in order to break the continuity of the shared piping system to my neighborhood- essentially isolating our pipes on our properly, however this seems to come with its own sets of problems. There are other options to attempt to reduce the high ground impedance, that may be worth exploring- for instance installing more ground rods.
Now for the explanation behind how this affects devices from an electrical engineer:
"As for how all of this works.. impedance is referring to how easy current flows at various frequencies. It does vary with frequency so high frequency stuff will see higher impedance than low frequency stuff. What that means is that when your device generates RF noise the filters will try shorting it to ground. If you have a low impedance ground then you just get RF current on ground, RF current in a wire can radiate into the air and go into other stuff. It's much worse though when you have a high impedance ground. Current into a high impedance ground turns into a voltage on ground. This will also go into your neutral and you'll see a voltage where it will feed into the filters on other devices (they assume ground is zero) and their voltages can swing at RF rates. Essentially most things are designed to assume ground and neutral are zero volts and reference everything to that. RF noise from a device when you have a high impedance ground basically goes into all other devices instead of the actual ground.
So in the end, RF noise can travel through wires, it can jump from wires to the air, interfere with wireless stuff. Also, yea, power is 120V and the noise is typically tiny milivolts, but your electronics has filters that let noise move to ground, so RF voltages can jump right past the filters in many cases without getting reduced (input might be 120V is 30mV of noise and output could be 3.3V with 30mV of noise). The noise can even get amplified if it messes with sensitive parts.
I suspect your problem is likely something is making a whole lot of noise somewhere, because what you describe is pretty rare, but it's going to take work to find out what is causing it."
So basically there is a combination (compounded problems) affect going on here causing the behaivor of devices we have seen. Even if your system measures clean, like my electricians saw the first few times there can still be problems being masked by this "parallel path to the transformer".
I am rather shocked that these levels of EMF can actually cause these problems/affects I have seen with all my devices. Every attempt I had at researching this was of no use, as most information regarding EMF is linked to studies and pseudo science (dare I say) on the affects of EMF on health. Now I am not too opinionated on these subjects as the evidence to me seems rather inconclusive. However I do want to bring some awareness to the other people that experienced their devices malfunctioning in these ways, as to what the cause is.
I just want to say thank you to everyone that offered useful assistance. To those of you experiencing these problems I hope that this offers enough information to make some decisions. You can either spend the money to fix the issues on your property (maybe get some assistance from your neighbors) or you can move somewhere that does not have these problems. And hopefully it gives you some peace of mind, so that you can stop trying to rationalize this with absurd theories (that I too considered at times). Thanks everyone and if you have questions ill do my best to answer them!
*UPDATE 2: UPS does not clear up the rest of the mouse issues so I have found it to not be a fix. It certainly helps with the consistency, however mouse inputs will still change based on software, as well has hardware state changes. At this point I am relatively sure it has to do with grounding as that is just about the only power issue a double conversion UPS cannot fix. It helped for awhile but at some point it started doing less and less, and in the end I can affect input delay and moues tracking just as before the UPS (with physical changes to my setup).
Well I figured Id update this so people with the issue can see this. I ended up buying a double conversion UPS (a Tripp Lite one) and it actually helped fix the input delay by alot. I placed my modem, router, PC and monitor on it. The odd thing about it is it did not fix it instantly. It was better the moment I plugged it in but definitely still not functioning like a know a proper functioning PC to work. After near 4 hours of playing with it hooked up my inputs just kept getting smoother. Believe me the nature of this issue is truly absurd to me. On one hand this is a less than ideal solution to a problem that I simply could not do anything about for nearly 2 years. Its expensive, heavy and big, and noisy as **** but even still it helps. The one thing is my mouse still feels a little off like its got some acceleration but I suspect using it even longer will iron that out. Anyway I guess this confirms that it is electrical in nature as was suspected by many but I just cannot wrap my head around how that actually works. If anyone has any ideas why the power from the 3 houses (only things in common are same power company and ISP) I have tried is causing this insane issue me and others would love to know. I know it has to be related to RFI/EMI transients on the power at this point I just don't understand how. My UPS reports that its receiving enough voltage, and same with when I test my outlets. Anyway to all that have the same issue as me I hope this gives you some information to work with.
This problem has been the most difficult to diagnose issue I have ever seen or heard of on a PC. Thought I might get some insight (hopeful) as no one that has the issue has been able to find a real solution as of yet. I anticipate many people will doubt my experiences and the symptoms I have observed. I would doubt someone saying the same things that I am if my PC functioned properly however I have seen what Ive seen and know it is real. For those that are willing to believe what me and others have said on this subject- thank you.
Input lag across the board in both games and windows, both mouse and keyboard inputs are inconsistent and change over time. At times the dpi increments on my mouse hardly change the sensitivity, other times it adjusts a ton. The monitor display suffers hitches, and micro stutters, of the same varying consistency. Makes game play at 140fps and below look and feel like 60 or lower. Internet webpages load in slowly (blocks of the page load in at a time), you tube videos and twitch buffer at random times with no packet loss. At times the lag is minimal at times its unbearable. The input lag and video hitches seem entirely inconsistent however I have found that nearly any hardware state change/software change can affect it to varying degrees. Everyday, even every hour my mouse feels and tracks differently. Now the really interesting stuff: Practically any hardware/software setting or change I can make to my system will alter the behavior of the mouse/keyboard inputs. Keyboard input is possibly the easiest way to tell as I can change different settings and holding down keys in windows search bar spits the characters out at different speeds. I have posted around many forums and seen many others with the same issue being told its placebo however this is simply not the case. I know a properly functioning PC should not behave this way but my system and others do.
Things I have tried:
3 different PC's (completely different specs) 3 different monitors (120hz, 144hz, 240hz) 5 different mice (Logitech G-Pro x2 models , Razer Deathadder x3 models) 3 different mousepads 3 different keyboards Using different circuits and configurations around the house. (some work better than others, however input lag is still present) Different power strips, power conditioners Tested for outlet grounding with 3 pronged tester.
Things that change the mouse/keyboard behavior and monitors display quality:
Moving the monitor/router/modems/pcs power cord to different outlets, different power strips etc. Note: My Wi-Fi does not even work if my router/modem are on the same outlet/power strip- the signal shows up but no connection. Changing which USB ports the keyboard/mice are plugged into. Applying tinfoil to any power cord, or mice/keyboard USB cables. Applying Ferrite (can mitigate electrical interference) beads to any of the above cords. Changing nearly any BIOS/Windows 10 settings. Adjusting GPU fan/power settings. Adjusting nearly any settings in NVIDIA control panel change the mouse behavior. Applying overclocks, disabling all OCs/turbo/speedstep. Adjusting/propping up the GPU (seems like the positioning changes mouse behavior heavily). Changing case fan profiles- usually lowering fan speed/power is better. Monitor settings (brightness, color, resolution). Placing phone onto the PC case (doubles mouse sensitivity immediately). Changing where the router/modem is or moving the power cords. Separating all cables from each other.
Now the confusing part. All of these problems happens along with some very peculiar wifi issues in the home. To summarize the way in which my router/modem are plugged in (different powerstrips, plug orientation) affect the quality and behaivor of my wifi. Because of this I decided to explore the possibility of my ethernet cable being the source or my PC problems as well. I contacted the ISP to send a guy out- they did and he got a reading on the cable drop for large voltage spikes. He said that the coaxial cable had voltage leeching onto it using the ISP ground block as a path of least resistance. Told me to contact the power company as it was on their end. Well I readup on some similar issues on cable forums and contacted an electrician about a possible loose neutral in the home just to verify it was not from in home faulty wiring, or a television backfeeding voltage or something. He told me the house was good to go and said that the issue was definitely power company. Well I called the power company and they sent out a tech while I was at work and supposedly they fixxed somthing, but the wifi still behaves erratically and of course my PC still suffers this issue. So I took a measurement of the coax cable and found there is still fluctuating voltage on the shielding (measured shielding to ground). Well I am in contact with the power company to hear the official report of what the tech even did here. I did however in the meantime head to a rental our family owns and tested the PC there. Booted up my PC and although my inputs seemed slightly better I could tell they were still messed up. Then I started testing the things Ive tried before- ferrite beads on cables, changing around the power configuration (moving outlet for monitor etc) and any BIOS changes and found that my mouse behaivor is still changing.
Before all of this I thought it has to be something with my houses wiring (floating neutral/ground) or a ground loop being created somewhere, raising the noise floor in the system which in turns causes data loss. However now I am just considering that my PC was damaged in some way that produces these results. Since testing at the 2nd house I have swapped out GPU, RAM, and SSD and my rig functions the exact same. I am not sure if this is a combination of hardware/software bugs or what. If my rig was truly damaged I would think that I would see much more serious affects. All I know is my PC is not functioning properly. There are many others out there with nearly the exact same symptoms (on completely different systems, in completely different parts of the world) but none of them have found a proper solution, just more things that change the behaivor for a time. The input lag always comes back and mouse/keyboard behavior is totally inconsistent. At times it operates nearly perfectly but not for long. Now I have posted my own threads plenty enough as well as read many on this very issue. People tend to say this is placebo, or we are insane to think its possible for all this to be happening. Well I cannot convince you beyond saying that I am fully aware how crazy of an issue it would have to be to transcend entirely different PCs or houses, however the truth is I and others have observed this very behaivor beyond doubt. Many of us questioned ourselves, but when you find that you can actually change the inputs behaivor yourself by doing certain things software/hardware side, you realize how very real it is. Anyway thanks for your time and if you have any doubts that there are others out there with this I recommend you read some of the linked threads below.
Some other threads/docs relating to the issue:
- Note: R0ach is seen as a bit of a meme on OC.net because of his hypochondriac ways regarding his BIOS and PC optimizations. I have concluded however that he is experiencing the same issue as the rest of us and just believes it to be normal behaivor when in reality his PC is just like ours, displaying completely inconsistent inputs.