Loosing power to one side of modular.

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  #1  
Old 01-01-13, 05:01 PM
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Loosing power to one side of modular.

New to the forum and to home ownership / any home maintenance. I apologize if anything is wrong is misleading in this post.

My wife and I recently purchased our first home which is a modular built in 2000. We have been having quite a head ache with some electrical problems ever since we moved in. Our biggest problem is we have been intermittently losing power to half our house. The half that goes down has the circuits for the fridge, washer/dryer, stove, furnace, water heater, etc. First few times we just noticed the power was out, and eventually it would come back on (seconds the first time, hours the next). Resetting the breakers (both main and individual) have no effect. There seem to be a bit of power still flowing through the circuits as we notice the stove clock barely flickering but nothing else. Tonight it went off when we tried to start a load of laundry. I figured I would start simple and switch the two main breakers to see if we would lose power to the other side instead. Fortunately we did. I planned on just getting a new main the next day but when the power did come back on I noticed all the lights on the other side of the house were pretty dimly lit. This is the low load side of the home. So now I am thinking there may be a high resistance somewhere.

So basically my question is can this situation still be caused by a bad circuit breaker or are there underlying problems somewhere?

Thanks
 
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  #2  
Old 01-01-13, 05:14 PM
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I am making an assumption that your home was built in two sections at the factory and joined together as one building at the site on a foundation. Correct? I don't know anything about how these homes are pre-wired at the factory, but it makes sense that there must be connections made when the two halves are joined. That is where I believe your problem is. Keep in mind that modulars are wired under different codes than homes that are stick built. I would, however, recommend checking power at the meter/disconnect and also at the main panel; there could be another problem, but I think there is also a good possibility the problem is where the two halves are joined. If I were doing the troubleshooting, I'd start at the meter and work my way into the service panel and then to where the two halves were joined.

So basically my question is can this situation still be caused by a bad circuit breaker or are there underlying problems somewhere?
From your description of the problem, I don't think so, I believe you need to look at underlying problems. That being said, tell me more about the two main breakers you mentioned earlier.
 
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Old 01-01-13, 05:32 PM
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I agree with CJ and would approach this the same way. Start at the panel and then work inward.
 
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Old 01-01-13, 05:56 PM
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I own a modular built in 2004 modulars have connections in the attic with Multi pole connectors that snap together ,they are usually fairly easy to spot, but I agree that the best way to approach the problem is from the meter in,it might be a good idea to contact the utility co. And let them check things in from their connection to the meter,usually no charge for that.
 
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Old 01-01-13, 06:02 PM
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This is a factory built home. However I don't know if the circuits are side specific or if they have been modified. My reason for that assumption is when my kitchen looses all power (lighting, fridge, stove) the dishwasher and one outlet are still being fed power.
Below is a picture of what I am looking at. The main circuit breakers on a single assembly on the bottom right column. You'll have to excuse my terminology here. When the power went out I basically swapped the two black wires.

 
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Old 01-01-13, 06:17 PM
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The main circuit breakers on a single assembly on the bottom right column.
That clears that up, you have a 2 pole main breaker. I cannot quite make out the amperage, but am assuming its 100 amps. Regardless, you have one main breaker.

I don't know if the circuits are side specific or if they have been modified. My reason for that assumption is when my kitchen looses all power (lighting, fridge, stove) the dishwasher and one outlet are still being fed power.
Assuming you have a gas stove, the 3 circuits you mention are all 120 volt circuits. That could possibly indicate a problem with either the service neutral or one of the service hot conductors. That is why I stated I would start troubleshooting at the meter and work my way to the panel and onto where the halves are joined.

the dishwasher and one outlet are still being fed power
That could possibly rule out the service neutral as a problem, but you could still have a problem with one of the service hot conductors.

Do you have any meters to troubleshoot with? Have you had any experience troubleshooting electric circuits?
 
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Old 01-01-13, 06:21 PM
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Maybe those connectors approved for use in modular construction that are permitted to be burred in the walls?
 
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Old 01-01-13, 06:30 PM
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I don't think so Ray, since the two sides need to be connected after the house is set on the foundation.
 
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Old 01-01-13, 06:31 PM
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I am a mechanic by trade and have dealt with automotive and heavy duty vehicle electrical systems. I have a typical Fluke multimeter.

I guess I was assuming my main breaker was a single assembly but had two internal circuits. Is that an incorrect assumption?

I do have a gas stove, but am not familiar with the service hot and service neutral you speak of.

Got a bit more info to ad for ya.

I had left the two wires swapped on the breaker since we somewhat had power to all the house. Getting ready for bed I noticed the dryer was still running longer than usual. Upon checking it I saw the timer had not budged since starting it after restoring what power we had. So I manually moved the knob to stop it. Upon the motor shutting off the other side of the house lost power. Turning the dryer back up restored that power. Not wanting to run the dryer all night I switched the wires back and now have power to the low load side of the house and no power to the other side. I have the fridge running off an extension cord to a hot outlet for the night.

Thinking I may be over my head here, not sure how I am going to afford to call someone in tho either. Aw home ownership.....
 
  #10  
Old 01-01-13, 06:34 PM
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You're obviously intermittently losing a leg to your service.

Since the panel indoors is a 4-wire then you most likely have a disconnect outside. After 12 years of being outside it's highly possible that the breaker or connections may be corroded and causing your issue.

As far as the interconnections within the home, most I've done have had the main electrical components, kitchen appliances, water heater, etc. on the same side as the electrical panel so no interconnections on the items are needed.
 
  #11  
Old 01-01-13, 06:38 PM
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You have lost a 120 volt leg coming into your house. This will cause every other breaker on the bus to be dead.

You can check using a voltmeter on the two wires on your main breaker. Between the two hots you should have 240, and between either to ground or neutral (white) you should have 120. If it is not coming into the panel you will need to call the power company.
 
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Old 01-01-13, 06:39 PM
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If you have a meter.......check from one of the main breaker wires to neutral.
Now check the other one.
You should see +/- 120 volts on each one.
Now check across the blacks....you should see +/- 240 vac.
 
  #13  
Old 01-02-13, 04:14 PM
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Have you called the Power Co.? And explained what is going on.
 
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Old 01-02-13, 05:01 PM
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Just to further Ray's comments in post #7, that is exactly what I have encountered in setting up modulars. It was odd, in that was the problem rather than funky wiring, breakers, dropped legs, etc. I had one on the truck and just replaced it, and plugged it back together. The original electrician had not pushed it together quite well enough.
 
  #15  
Old 01-02-13, 06:15 PM
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Issue resolved for now. Call the power company first as suggested before putting any money into anything. Tech came by, checked the breakers, went out to the box in back and literally started kicking it. According to the wife about half hour later came back and said the seal was poor on the box allowing water to get inside of it. Mix that and the cold stretch of weather we have had here in Colorado this week caused ice to build up on the connections and push the contacts apart. Cleaned up the ice and re-installed the connections got the power back on. Obviously I can see how this would cause the majoring of the power outages but there are a few things that still lead me to believe there is a wiring issue somewhat between the two sections as mentioned a few times by others. That's for another day and another time tho.

Thanks to everyone for their suggestions and help. We look forward to enjoying a nice warm house tonight after freezing last night lol.
 
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Old 01-02-13, 06:59 PM
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Aww. It wasn't but 12F last night in Highlands Ranch Hope you fared well.
 
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