Circuit breaker problems in NV

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Old 01-17-14, 03:09 PM
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Circuit breaker problems in NV

Hi. I'm wondering if there are any electricians or handymen/women that could help shed some light on my problem?

I've been having problems recently with a tripping circuit breaker, but it wasn't often. Maybe once every few weeks, a breaker would trip, and I would have to go outside to reset it. Something weird happened yesterday, and 1/4 of the power went out in my home. I tried flipping the breakers, and the power wasn't restored. I read up on how to test the breakers, and opened up the panel to test it with a multimeter. Turns out that 3 breakers weren't getting power to it. I know that breakers can go bad, and you have to replace them sometimes, but 3 at the same time? The funny thing is that they are alternating breakers...so 1 works, the one below it doesn't...next one works...after that, nothing...etc. Is this just a massive coincidence, or could this be a bigger problem?
 
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Old 01-17-14, 03:24 PM
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Welcome to the forums! From your description, it appears you have problems on the supply side of your panel. Call your power company now, not in 5 minutes, and ask them to troubleshoot their side of your meter. A warm cup of coffee may entice them to check the connections in your panel, although their responsibility ends at your meter.
 
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Old 01-17-14, 03:28 PM
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If it is on 3 alternating CB's , how many single pole CB's are in the loadcenter , all together ?

Does it have a Main CB , or is the incoming feed tied into main lugs ? Test to see if you have approximatly 220 - 240 VAC in the incoming feed ? ( Sounds like you have lost voltage one phase / one of the feeds . )

If you have good voltage on the incoming feeds , you may have lost connection ( totally or partially ) on the neutral .

If you have lost voltage on one of the feeds , keep tracing it all the way to the meter .

BUT , you are getting very close to the point where a person that knows little about electricity , needs to call a professional ( to keep from messing something up or getting hurt ) .

Around here , you can call the power company and they will check the incoming power , at no charge . If they tell you the incoming power is good , you may have to bite the bullet and call a liscenced ekectrician .

God bless
Wyr
 
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Old 01-17-14, 04:02 PM
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Turns out that 3 breakers weren't getting power to it... they are alternating breakers...so 1 works, the one below it doesn't...next one works...after that, nothing...etc. Is this just a massive coincidence, or could this be a bigger problem?
That sounds normal when one leg of a standard single-phase split-leg 120/240V service is dropped.

Your panel is constructed so that each leg of the incoming ungrounded (hot) power serves alternating rows of breakers. If we call the two legs "A" and "B", the power is fed to the breakers like this:

A 1 - 2
3 - 4 B
A 5 - 6
7 - 8 B

etc.

I assume you tested for 120V from the load terminal on the breakers to neutral or ground. If so, test every breaker, to see if any of the breakers on A or B is supplying power. If so, test for 240V from that breaker to any breaker on the other leg. Also test for 240V across the terminals for the incoming how feeds, as Wyr suggested.

If you find 120V, hot-to-neutral, on some but not all of the breakers on either leg, and you find 240V between any two breakers on opposite legs and you find 24oV across the two terminals for the incoming feeders, the problem may be in your panel. If you can't find 240V anywhere, the problem should be on the POCO side. The gray area is the connections between the meter and your panel - they're technically yours but the POCO workers will sometimes check them out.

A checkup by your POCO shouldn't cost you anything. Call them, as Chandler suggested. You might want to call their 24-hour emergency number to get things moving. The symptoms you've described could indicate a hazardous condition.
 
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Old 01-17-14, 04:45 PM
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Hi. Thanks for all the great input! I really appreciate the help from everyone!

I uploaded an album of the panel box to give a better idea of what I'm looking at. The ones circled in red are the ones without power. Seems the right side of the panel is working, but the left side has alternating outages.

Circuit Breakers - Imgur

I am a pretty decent DIYer, but I hate anything electrical. I thought that it was a simple circuit breaker change, but I think anything beyond that will be out of my scope of DIYing. If you guys think it's better to call an electrician, I'll probably do that. I'll definitely call the power company first to see if anything is wrong on their side.

On another note, IF I do end up calling an electrician, is there a ball park figure that anyone can give me?

EDIT: Just called the power company and they told me that there were no outages reported in the area, and suggested I call an electrician.
 

Last edited by mischief; 01-17-14 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 01-17-14, 05:36 PM
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Just called the power company and they told me that there were no outages reported in the area, and suggested I call an electrician.
Then you either called customer service not emergency service or explained it wrong. Call emergency service and tell them you have a dead leg.
 
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Old 01-17-14, 06:18 PM
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Are the CB's on the right hand side of the dead ones , hot ?

Are the 2 big set screw lugs just below the CB's , with the big wires attached , hot ?

God bless
Wyr
 
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Old 01-17-14, 06:33 PM
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I will update tomorrow. It just got really dark here, and I don't want play around with the panel box at night lol.

If it does turn out that 1 phase of the panel is dead, will that most likely be a problem on the utility side (something I can tell them to come out for)?

When I talked to the operator on the phone, I told her my situation and I told her that alternating breakers were not working. I might not have used the right terminology, which might be why she thought I was asking about an outage. I did call the 24-hour emergency line though. Is there a correct way to ask them to come out here (should I just say "I have a dead leg in my panel box, can you send someone out here to check")?
 
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Old 01-17-14, 07:42 PM
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If it does turn out that 1 phase of the panel is dead, will that most likely be a problem on the utility side (something I can tell them to come out for)?
Tell them you suspect you lost a leg and they should take it from there. There is a possibility the problem is on the load side of the meter or in your panel, but the odds are on a loose connection on the line side of the meter or at the transformer or pedestal. There doesn't have to an outage in the area for this to happen. Call them back tonight, they have trouble trucks on the street 24/7, 365 days a year for problems like this. It's not that uncommon.
 
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Old 01-18-14, 01:58 PM
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To make sure, I went back out to check with the multimeter this morning and put the black to the bus bar and the red to the terminals on the breakers. Heres a new picture:

http://i.imgur.com/IN8zs8X.jpg

...so all the circled red ones are the ones reading 0. The ones not circled are around 125. At the advice of everyone, I was told to contact the power company and tell them "I lost a leg" and to ask for someone to come take a look. Just received a call from them, and someone is coming over right now, so I will update more after they come.
 
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Old 01-18-14, 02:11 PM
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I went back out to check with the multimeter this morning and put the black to the bus bar and the red to the terminals on the breakers
Which bus bar, the neutral bus? If so, that's definitely a lost leg. This latest picture is different from the previous one. All this time I was scratching my head trying to figure out how the right side could still be getting power. In your updated pic I see it is not.

Sounds like you will have everything resolved very shortly.
 
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Old 01-18-14, 05:30 PM
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Update:

NV Power sent a technician down and took a look at my panel box. Asked me if my neighbors were out of state because their meter was off too. He took a look at a few homes on our street and told me only our two homes were affected. Apparently it was a bad line in between our homes. He ran a temporary line above ground, and told me that in the upcoming days/weeks, there will be a crew coming to run a new conduit under the sidewalk.

http://i.imgur.com/C5HltKK.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/ZTr75uy.jpg

Worse case scenario, they'll need to tear up the sidewalk to get it in, but he said that most likely they'll just pull a new line through. He explained that it's more common than you think. He's done a lot of these recently. Told me that most likely when they ran the lines, someone put a boulder or large rock on top of the sand and covered it up. In time, these rocks sink down and sometimes wedges its way into the line.

Regardless, I now have full power at my house, and the neighbors do too. They were renting, and they told their landlord, who apparently didn't do anything...so no report was made on their end. At the end of it all, the technician was surprised at how I was able to tell them that a "leg was out" without hiring an electrician. I told him I explained my problem online to a room full of electricians, and the general consensus was that I had lost a leg/phase and to call the utility company lol. You guys are awesome...thanks again to everyone that helped out!
 
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Old 01-18-14, 05:43 PM
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I've seen temporary SEU cable run on top of the ground before, but never have I seen a power company run URD temporary at the gutter of a street. Stay away from it! In my opinion it's not a safe temporary.

But, I am glad to hear you have full power back.
 
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Old 01-19-14, 03:59 PM
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Yeah, the technician said that the only thing he can do right now to restore the power is run that temporary line. The pictures don't show it, but he also had a few barricades installed around and on top of the line so people will know that it's there. Luckily it's Vegas, so it hardly ever rains here.

I do want to thank you for your help though. Your advice about how I worded my concern to the power company was a big help!
 
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Old 01-19-14, 10:06 PM
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Glad you got it resolved, and thanks for updating us!
 
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