Power Goes out.. then coming back on..

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Old 06-26-08, 01:52 PM
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Power Goes out.. then coming back on..

Hi Everybody!

I recently bought a house and moved in, it's our first house so I just getting used to everything, like the fact I can't call the landlord about problems.

Anyway I get to the point. Today my wife called and said the power went out in the kitchen, she had the ceiling fan and the dishwasher on at the time. She wasn't in the room at the time, but the dishwasher had PF (power failure), and the clock on the microwave was reset. She was in a different room painting, she said the radio she had on never went off. The breakers weren't tripped.

A couple hours later she called again and said the power went out again (with the DW and fan on), then coming back on. I asked her to plug in a little alarm clock in a different room to see if the power is going out in a different room too.

Any one got any ideas on what's going on?
 
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Old 06-26-08, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by bobbydole View Post
Hi Everybody!

I recently bought a house and moved in, it's our first house so I just getting used to everything, like the fact I can't call the landlord about problems.

Anyway I get to the point. Today my wife called and said the power went out in the kitchen, she had the ceiling fan and the dishwasher on at the time. She wasn't in the room at the time, but the dishwasher had PF (power failure), and the clock on the microwave was reset. She was in a different room painting, she said the radio she had on never went off. The breakers weren't tripped.

A couple hours later she called again and said the power went out again (with the DW and fan on), then coming back on. I asked her to plug in a little alarm clock in a different room to see if the power is going out in a different room too.

Any one got any ideas on what's going on?
sorry about the quoting above, as this is not a direct answer.
You should get an inexpensive or slightly-more-expensive
3-prong outlet tester and check each outlet (the more expensive
one is for gfci), also one of those screwdriver-with-button
on-the-end hot-circuit tester, and before/during/after the
problem above is fixed, test each outlet and map the
entire electrical circuitry for when any electrical work ever
needs to be done etc.
 
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Old 06-26-08, 02:57 PM
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Originally Posted by jb_freebsd View Post
sorry about the quoting above, as this is not a direct answer.
You should get an inexpensive or slightly-more-expensive
3-prong outlet tester and check each outlet (the more expensive
one is for gfci), also one of those screwdriver-with-button
on-the-end hot-circuit tester, and before/during/after the
problem above is fixed, test each outlet and map the
entire electrical circuitry for when any electrical work ever
needs to be done etc.

Thanks, I was actually planning on testing that this weekend. I have one of those little three prong testers, and one of those little neon testers with the two probes.

I already tested the GFCI outlet in the kitchen with the three prong tester, and it was OK.
 
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Old 06-26-08, 03:39 PM
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Obvious problem though not the cause of your problem ceiling fan and dishwasher should not be on the same circuit. Dishwasher should not be o same circuit as Microwave. In fact all three of these items should be on separate circuits.

Most likely cause of your problem is a loose connection. Having seen wiring in a lot of older houses if this is an older house I'd start at the ceiling fan box. Often it doubles as a Jbox for other lines. Don't trust any wire nut connections. Redo them with new wire nuts. If not there you will have to check other connections and move any backstab receptacle connections to the screws.
 
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Old 06-26-08, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Obvious problem though not the cause of your problem ceiling fan and dishwasher should not be on the same circuit. Dishwasher should not be o same circuit as Microwave. In fact all three of these items should be on separate circuits.
I'm not even sure if they are on the same circuit, I just assumed they were since they all went out at the same time. But they probably are on the same circuit, what will I have to do to fix this? Call in a electrician?

Most likely cause of your problem is a loose connection. Having seen wiring in a lot of older houses if this is an older house I'd start at the ceiling fan box. Often it doubles as a Jbox for other lines. Don't trust any wire nut connections. Redo them with new wire nuts. If not there you will have to check other connections and move any backstab receptacle connections to the screws.
It is an older house, built in the 1940's. I'll take a look at the ceiling fan box. Thanks for your help.
 
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Old 06-26-08, 05:48 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Obvious problem though not the cause of your problem ceiling fan and dishwasher should not be on the same circuit. Dishwasher should not be o same circuit as Microwave. In fact all three of these items should be on separate circuits.
Ok so I went and tested everything. The ceiling fan is on a separate circuit #11, the dishwasher, and garbage dis. are on circuit #12, the fridge is on #5, and the microwave is on #13 (along with the gas oven).

So when the power went out, the microwave clock was reset, and the dishwasher lost power. I'm not sure of anything else.
 
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Old 06-26-08, 06:32 PM
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Since they are on separate circuits you may have a loose wire at the panel or meter can. You can NOT safely check the wires on the main breaker. Not safe for a non-pro to even try. You can very carefully check that the main neutral is tight. Be very careful working in the panel. Even with the main breaker off there can be exposed metal that is still "hot".

Before doing anything else though call your electric company's 24 hour emergency number. If it is on their side they will fix it free. Even if not on their side they may be able to tell you what the problem is.
 
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Old 06-27-08, 12:37 AM
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Exclamation

What is the namebrand of your panel? Bus bars on zinsco panels get very pitted and create all kinds of problems. The circuit breakers would have to be pulled out to inspect the bus bars. This should be left to the pros. EVERYONE should check to see if they might have a Federal Pacific panel as they are known to be a fire hazard.
 
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Old 06-27-08, 05:44 AM
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Storms?

Hi,

We live in a rural area and occassionally have 'brown outs' that temporarily cut power. The odd squirrel, snow storm or car accident will also cut the power for a short while.

Is this a recurring situation, or did it occur only once?
It may be weather related storms etc. also.

Good luck!
 
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Old 06-27-08, 06:21 AM
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Could you be losing power on one leg of the 220? That would explain why some circuits go out and the others remain working. I think I'd start in the panel and make sure all of that is proper, then work your way out. The fact that multiple circuits lost power at the time sure suggests the panel is the place to look. This could even be farther out, like the meter box or the feed from the power company.
 
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Old 06-28-08, 12:10 PM
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Talking Utility Reclosures

Your utility probably has reclosures on their local grid. They are automated circuit breakers. If their is a short (squirrel, wet branch, wind slapping lines) on the line, the reclosure opens and cuts power on the feeder for 1.5 to 2 seconds. It then automatically closes. If the short is still on the line, it may open two or three more times and then lock open. That is why you may see the lights flicker three or four times before going out completely.

If this is happening, all the power in the house would go out.

If the short is close by, but not on your feeder, one of the two phases of power coming to the house might sag momentarily, until the reclosure operates. It normally takes about 1/10th of a second to open.

If this is happening, all the power on the impacted phase would appear to go out and the remaining phase would appear normal.

If this is the case, call your utility and tell them that they are having feeder problems.

You could also have a bad or loose neutral. On houses, the neutral acts to stabilize the power on the two phases. If it is loose or missing, when one phase sags, usually due to a load coming on, the other elevates and can cause wholesale damage. I would walk around the house and plug a vacuum cleaner into open outlets. Turn on all the incandescent lights in the house. When you start the vacuum, if some lights go dim and others get bright it is a neutral problem. Call your utility and get them out immediately. They are legally liable if they have a bad neutral on their side and you experience damage.
 
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Old 06-28-08, 12:14 PM
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I've seen first hand what a floating neutral can do, and it's not pretty! I've had one here, with minimal damage, but two of my friends have also experienced the same issue, one did a lot of damage before they sorted it out! He was measuring 170V on one side of the feed, and it took out computers, TV's, dimmers, etc. The sum total of the damage ran into a few thousand dollars!
 
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Old 06-30-08, 02:19 PM
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The odd squirrel, snow storm or car accident will also cut the power for a short while.
About 9 years ago, I was working for the power company in Wash, DC. One late Fall evening on may way home, I was changing Metro trains at Reagan National Airport and noticed that it looked pretty dark over in D.C. Turns out a squirrel took out a main feeder from the company's power plant across the Potomac River that feeds all of Georgetown, Foggy Bottom and the White House.

It took a couple of hours because the second line was out of commssion for scheduled repairs. Those little critters can do a load of damage if they don't make the jump all the way across the wires.

Tom
 
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