some breakers in subpanel dead

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  #1  
Old 03-05-06, 07:06 AM
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some breakers in subpanel dead

here's what happened: yesterday I heard a 'pop' from the subpanel in the laundry room. My daughter came from her room saying that she had lost all power there. The only breaker that was in the 'reset' position was for refrigerator, which also had no power. Checking further, I found we had lost power in 2 dedicated 20amp gfci's, and the 200v clothes dryer would turn on but provide no drying heat.
Went to Home Depot; bought and installed all new circuit breakers, 15's and 20's, not the dryer 30amp, or the 50amp main disconnect at the subpanel. No-go; all the dead positions of replaced breakers remained dead.I built this house, with permit and inspections some 12 years ago, nothing has been changed; what could be going on here? Thanks, Eric
 
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Old 03-05-06, 08:03 AM
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Sounds like a dead leg. With a volt meter _carefully_ measure the voltage between each hot leg coming into the sub panel and ground (neutral). Each should read about 120V to ground. Turn off all breakers in the sub-panel first to prevent a false reading.

If one leg is dead first check the breaker suppling the sub panel. Check each leg to ground. Each leg should be 120V. If not the breaker it could be the wire.
 
  #3  
Old 03-05-06, 08:04 AM
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instead of buying new breakers, buy a voltage tester and check for 240 volts across the hots on the 50 amp in the subpanel. one phase is probably down so you will read 0. check each phase to ground to find out which one is dead. then check to see if there is a 2 pole 50 in the main panel feeding this sub
 
  #4  
Old 03-05-06, 08:18 AM
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Call the power company NOW.. Do not wait. Call them now. Then turn off the main breaker and wait for them to come out.
 
  #5  
Old 03-05-06, 09:32 AM
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Calling the Power Company

First, thanks for all the replies. Don't own a volt meter, but could/should certainly get one, once I've determined how in this case to use it safely. It does seem likely that either 'one leg' is dead, or other issue coming into the house from the 200amp main entry panel at the pole outside; or perhaps the main breaker itself? Racraft; please be specific on what 'danger' I might be in here. I can call the electric coop. out here in the country, but they'd likely tell me it's my problem, and to call an electricial on Monday. I do plan on staying home tomorrow to see what I can do. For example: What perhaps should I look for out at the main entry box? Thanks again and I'll be checking for your replies soon, Eric
 
  #6  
Old 03-05-06, 10:26 AM
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Call the power company NOW.. Do not wait. Call them now. Then turn off the main breaker and wait for them to come out.

The danger is that a wire is loose and fire will will happen, your house will burn down and you will die.

Call the power company NOW.. Do not wait. Call them now. Then turn off the main breaker and wait for them to come out.

It may or may not be their problem, it may be your problem. However, they will come out and they will investigate. If it is their problem they will fix it for free. If it is your problem they will tell you and/or they may even fix it anyway.

Call the power company NOW.. Do not wait. Call them now. Then turn off the main breaker and wait for them to come out.

If you use ANY of your 140 volt devices, you run the risk of ruining those devices, and everything else in your house.

Call the power company NOW.. Do not wait. Call them now. Then turn off the main breaker and wait for them to come out.
 
  #7  
Old 03-05-06, 02:43 PM
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Just to explain more it is not all that uncommon for one of the service wires to come loose inside the meter socket. Sometimes it might not have been tightened properly or it could even be contraction and expansion from temperature extremes. As stated a fire could occur. The fuses on the electric pole are intended to protect their end not yours. Of course the loose wire could be anywhere and is dangerous where ever it is.

While not as likely with 240 single phase I have see a 480 three phase blow a cover panel all the way across a warehouse and dent the opposite wall. <G> True or not I don't know but my boss allways said to stand to one side of a breaker or fuse box because they are designed to blow straight out if they explode. Maybe over kill but I do that even on my home box.

As to using a volt meter I'd suggest you have someone who knows how show you. In general though I'd get one that has an alligator clip that attaches to one of the probes. Clip that to ground first. Place the meter where you can read it. Do not hold it. Always work with one hand and keep the other in your pocket. Also wear rubber soled shoes. Can't be too safe. <G>
 
  #8  
Old 03-05-06, 06:51 PM
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Crisis Over

Thanks to all of you who provided a piece of the puzzle; I copied out the exchanges for my files. I called the Elec. Coop.; nice people; but they said it'd be $175 for them [Sunday] to check their side of the meter, though actually, when the guys get here most often they want to help, have the equipment/experience, which all ends up with the problem fixed then coffee and tall tales. What resolved it was this action: I took off the 200amp main service deadfront to check; all tight, no signs of arcing/sparking; flipped all the breakers several times; went back inside; re-checked all there; turned on a few circuits...lovely power all around! But: During the closest inspection of all I've done since being here for years I discovered that the paid licensed electrician I had who originally set up the 50amp Siemans ITE subpanel in the laundry room exchanged the positions of the bonds/grounds. The subpanel door diagram calls for bonds on the right, grounds on the left; reversed here...But, working for some years? Happy to change them out; should I do this? Thanks again for all; made sure too that I bookmarked this forum. Eric
 
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Old 03-05-06, 07:16 PM
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Hi Eric. ON your SUB panel, Your bonds (grounding bare copper) conductors should be on the lugs bolted to the metal frame of the panel. The GROUNDED (neutrals,white) conductors should be on an isolated buss bar.
Don't soley go by left or right on the door. Go by the ACTUAL configuration of the hardware.
 
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