Intermittent power issues

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  #1  
Old 02-02-15, 05:29 AM
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Intermittent power issues

Our home was built in 1990. About a month ago, we started having mini power outages. It came off and then on. We found that a few electrical outlets worked but all lights went out. Our large appliances like the stove and refrigerator would stay on, but it sometimes would go out too. But more often than not, those would stay on. Our baseboard heaters controlled by a t-stat, all part of the original install, would in most cases go out. We have done no remodels or renovations nor have added anything that would take a lot of power. The power company placed a voltage meter for a few days and found nothing wrong. We have lived in the townhome for over 10 years with no issues.

After some troubleshooting, the guy our property manager sent (we live in a townhome) determined there was something bad about the master breaker which is outside the home. It was badly arcing, and was replaced . We had no issues for a few weeks, but then it came back.

Anyone have any ideas what this could be? I forgot to add that none of the breakers inside the panel in our townhome goes off. The power just comes back by itself, sometimes right away and sometimes a couple of hours later. It is very frustrating.
 
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Old 02-02-15, 05:33 AM
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Most likely due to loose connections.

Good idea to have someone with some experience with electricity (could be you) open up the breaker panel and tighten all the screws and set screws inside. But leave the big lugs with the fat wires for someone with lots of experience to tighten up. Flip off each breaker before touching the terminal screw(s) on it. Better results: Loosen each screw a quarter turn and then tighten to better clean and improve the contact. Do not use tremendous force.

Loose connections can also happen at switches and receptacles, especially if the wires are poked in the holes in back and supposedly stay in place (backstab connections). Use of the screws on the sides is much better and someone with a little experience can go through the outlet boxes (incl. switch boxes) one by one and convert from back stab to screw connections. Because each branch circuit daisy generally chains from one outlet box to the next, a loose connection in one place can affect more than one place "downstream."
 
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Old 02-02-15, 05:35 AM
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All connections at the panel were checked and were found to be tight.
 
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Old 02-02-15, 05:39 AM
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The arcing breaker may have damaged the bus where it provides power to the panel. The panel may need to be replaced. An on site evaluation is really needed by an electrician.
 
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Old 02-02-15, 05:43 AM
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Next time several "things" go "out" measure voltage at several of the panel breakers, hot to neutral (breaker terminal screw to terminal strip aka bus bar with all the white wires). See if there is any pattern such as every other breaker registering zero.

Terminal screw to neutral bus bar should read about 120 volts for all breakers.
 
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Old 02-02-15, 05:44 AM
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Asked around to see if anyone else is having issues in the other units?
Burned buss where that breaker was arcing?
 
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Old 02-02-15, 05:47 AM
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Did you say that the arcing breaker was in a smaller panel outside?

In that case you may notice that every other breaker in your inside panel goes dead from time to time and that could indicate a burned bus bar in the outside (in this case upstream) panel.
 
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Old 02-02-15, 05:49 AM
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Yes, the master breaker is in a smaller panel outside. Thank you so much for the quick responses. I will be passing them along to the board.
 
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Old 02-02-15, 08:07 AM
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the guy our property manager sent (we live in a townhome) determined there was something bad about the master breaker which is outside the home. It was badly arcing, and was replaced .
I believe you still have a problem right there.

pcboss

The arcing breaker may have damaged the bus where it provides power to the panel.
The arcing breaker is in a small panel outside. My money is on the breaker enclosure needing to be replaced. Probably burnt aluminum bus connections in the enclosure.
 
  #10  
Old 02-04-15, 04:28 PM
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Well, the electrician told us that a garage door opener we barely use at this moment but had in our home since the home's purchase over 10 years ago and a lamp that we had since we moved in and barely used shorted out the master breaker. This is not making sense to me. We usually use the garage door but have not needed it for over a month. It has only been plugged in half that time. Does this make sense to you? If it was a short, wouldn't it trip first?
 
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Old 02-04-15, 04:52 PM
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Doesn't make sense to me. If they were problems with the garage door opener circuit it should have affected the branch circuit, not the main breaker feeding the panel. The the power for the house goers through the service disconnect. Only a small portion of that is used for th opener and table lamp.
 
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Old 02-04-15, 05:18 PM
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Well, he now tells me that it isn't those items. But something is frying the master breaker. They had to replace it again. He needs to come back for further troubleshooting. He is thinking it is some type of contuinity issue between some point A and B. The mystery continues.
 
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Old 02-04-15, 05:43 PM
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I think they need to find someone with more experience to help resolve this issue.
 
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Old 02-04-15, 05:59 PM
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He tells me he is going to bring someone else with him when he returns.
 
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Old 02-04-15, 06:28 PM
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Sounds like they have been sending a maintenance guy when they should have sent a real electrician.
 
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Old 02-04-15, 06:39 PM
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He's supposedly an electrician. Seems like one without a lot of experience. Hopefully the guy he brings will have more experience. This is SO frustrating.
 
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