Half house power issue

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  #1  
Old 05-23-05, 08:20 AM
deep6blue
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Half house power issue

During a rain/windstorm the other day, half of the house power was flickering. Sometimes going off, randomly. I traced this down to the circuits on the right side of the service panel. Because of this, and since none of the breakers were being tripped, I figured it was one of the 120V supply lines on the outside of the house.

I called the local power company, BGE, they came out and determined that one of the 120V lines at the pole was loose. There is some vines and such growing in/around the box (or whatever you call it) on the pole. The BGE rep said he tightened the wire done as much as he could, and said that he made an appointment to have this permanently fixed.

The problem is, I worried about this condition. I don’t dare turn the computer on since it is on this circuit. I have the TV and stuff plugged into another outlet.

I am having an electrician come out to check out service panel just to ensure that there is nothing inside the house that is a contributing factor to this problem. But is there anything else I can do to solve this? If the electrician says “everything’s fine”, what do we do then? Just wait for the power company?

Is this a fire hazard? Are there any other issues to worry about?
 
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  #2  
Old 05-23-05, 08:41 AM
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Let's hope that if this were a fire hazard that the power company would have done something right then and there to address (i.e. fix) the problem.

While it is possible that you also have a problem in your house, it is unlikely.

In the mean time, turn off all 240 volt breakers. These will be for things like an electric water heater, electric dryer, electric heat and/or air conditioning. Next, turn off all breakers on the bad side of the incoming power.

By the way, it is unlikely that the right side of your panel is effected while the left side is not. The two incoming hot lines are staggered so that every other circuit is on a different half of the incoming power. This allows 240 volt loads to work properly.
 
  #3  
Old 05-23-05, 09:00 AM
deep6blue
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I had all the breakers turned off. But all 3 bedrooms of the house are on the affected circuits. So some of them had to be turned on.

I will check and turn off the 240V breakers this evening. I think the oven is the only one used. We have a gas dryer and water heater. The AC might be 240V.

BTW, the right side of the service panel has breakers 2,4,6,8,10 (15amp) on it. So that coincides with the alternating 120V supply lines.
 
  #4  
Old 05-23-05, 09:43 AM
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BTW, the right side of the service panel has breakers 2,4,6,8,10 (15amp) on it. So that coincides with the alternating 120V supply lines.
I'm not sure what you meant by this, but breakers 2, 4, 6, 8, and 10 are not fed by the same 120volt line.
 
  #5  
Old 05-23-05, 10:18 AM
deep6blue
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On our service panel, the numbers read left to right, starting at the top left.

The 15amp circuits are,

1 2
3 4
5 6
7 8
9 10
11 12

The 30amp cirsuits are,

13-14 (main)
15-16
17-18
19-20


I am under the impression that the odd circuits on the left are fed by the same 120V feed, and the even circuits on the right are on the other 120V feed.

If you have a theory as to why only the 15amp even numbered circuits have a problem please explain. I would like to learn more about this subject. Not so I can repair it myself, just so I can understand it.

The problem could be in the house. It was just odd that every time the wind blew half the house lights flickered or lost power.
 
  #6  
Old 05-23-05, 10:35 AM
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Describe your panel in more detail p-lease. And what are those 30 amp circuits for?
 
  #7  
Old 05-23-05, 11:01 AM
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Look carefully at the innards of a breaker box. Here's a picture of the guts of one. (I just found this picture doing a Google image search, so the running of the conductors is NOT something I did.)

Notice the two bus bars. There is one bar on the left, and one on the right. HOWEVER, *both* bars serve both "sides" of the box, in that subsequent breakers in both the left and right columns of breakers are alternately fed by one bar and then the other.

Looking at the picture I linked to, you will see 6 horizontal bars in the middle coming off the vertical bus bars on the sides. The first horizontal bar is what breaker 1 (left) and 2 (right) are both fed by, and it is part of the left buss bar. The next horizontal bar, which is where the 2nd ROW of breakers (3 & 4), is part of the right bar. 5&6 back to the left, etc. So you see, 1&2, 5&6, 9&10, etc are fed from one buss bar, while 3&4, 7&8, 11&12, etc. are fed from the other.

I *wish* breaker panels were numbered down the the left column, then down the right column rather than back and forth. If done that way, odd numbered breakers and even numbered breakers would ALWAYS be on opposite busses if there is an even number of rows (which most panels have).
 
  #8  
Old 05-23-05, 11:03 AM
deep6blue
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The breakers are Pushmatics. The panel is a 20 space (I think, could be 18 or 22). The top 12 spaces are 15 amp. Spaces 13 & 14 are labeled "main". Spaces 15-20 are the 30 amp breakers that use 2 spaces each.

The 30 amp breakers are used for the: oven, electric dryer outlet (which is not used, we have a gas dryer), and I think the AC unit. There might be one more 30amp device, but I cannot remember it right now.
 
  #9  
Old 05-24-05, 05:28 AM
deep6blue
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What a great website, I love all this information.

Thanks for the picture. That explains alot. But I'm at a loss as to what would cause only circuits 2,4,6,8,10 to flicker or lose power. Any ideas?

I'm good at puzzles, and could probably figure it out by looking at the inside of the service panel. But I'm not going to do that. I've heard enough warning from members on this website to know my limitation.

I wish there was a main switch that was external to the service panel. Then I could at least look at the panel and tighten down any screws that were loose.
 
  #10  
Old 05-24-05, 06:12 AM
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I would also like to see the innards of your breaker box. I tried to find a picture of a Pushmatic panel guts, but no luck...

It does sound from what you describe that the odd 110V breakers are being fed by one buss, while the evens are fed by another. The fact that your double-pole breakers are labeled by sequential numbers (each has an odd# & even#) seems to give credence to that thought. The orientation of the numbers 1-12 seems to contradict it though. Strange...
 
  #11  
Old 05-24-05, 06:26 AM
deep6blue
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When the electrician comes out I am going to take some pictures of the box. I'll post them online.
 
  #12  
Old 05-24-05, 06:40 AM
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Originally Posted by deep6blue
When the electrician comes out I am going to take some pictures of the box. I'll post them online.

Cool! Though it might be hard to tell what is going on with 1-12 with all the breakers in place...you can't really see the buss bars. Still, it might help make this more understandable.
 
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