Power Outages on 2nd Floor; 1st Floor is Fine

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  #1  
Old 05-15-15, 08:40 AM
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Power Outages on 2nd Floor; 1st Floor is Fine

Starting a couple of months ago, we started getting flickering lights and some power drops upstairs (like a fan would suddenly slow down while the lights flickered); save for one sometimes flickering light on the first floor, all of these problems seem confined to the second floor. We eventually called an electrician, who tightened up some loose connections in our circuit box, and made sure there were no fire hazards and all the power was coming through within accepted parameters (he couldn't check all the outlets, though, as many of these are behind large pieces of furniture, bookcases, etc.). After this, things actually got worse, and not only did we continue to have flickering and power drops, but sometimes the drops would be complete and we would totally lose power on the second floor (but never on the first floor; such outages never occurred before in all the time I've lived here). He came out again, at no charge, and just made sure everything was tightened, checked the meter box, which he said was in perfect condition, and then had us put on as many lights, etc. as we could so he could see an outage in action. Unfortunately for us, everything stayed on and we had no problems--and this joyous condition continued for three full days. This miracle, however, ended a couple of days ago and we are back to having fluctuations and outages on the second floor (each outage now seeming to last longer and longer; note, when these outages happen, we usually never have to flip the breaker, the power usually just comes back on its own). His suggestion was to come back and inspect and replace all the outlets, and maybe to put each of the upstairs bedrooms on separate circuits (right now the whole upstairs is on one breaker; the house was built in the 80's). What do you think? Our problems seem confined to the second floor and usually only happen at night and early in the morning (during the day, things are usually totally fine; save for about four lights, we roughly have on the same amount of electrical devices during the day as we do at night--and actually we use the washer/dryer during the day). Sometimes, though not always, the power upstairs is knocked out if somebody uses the microwave on the first floor (though sometimes it goes out without anybody doing anything on the first floor, and many times in the middle of the night, when there is only a tiny led nightlight on in the first floor; when we use the microwave during the day, there never is a problem). I am totally perplexed by all this, as is our electrician. Any ideas as to what the problem could be? Should I take his advice and let him examine all the outlets, or would it be better just to focus on the ones upstairs (the first floor seems to immune to this, though one single light fixture down there does flicker from time to time). The power company is coming out today to make sure things are okay on their end. Could it be that we are being effected by the power needs of our neighbors. Just wondering why all these problems seem to mostly happen at night when ppl are home from work, or in the early morning, when they are getting ready for work (but, then again, why would it only cause outages on the second floor). Confused and frustrated here. Any advice would be appreciated! )

Rob
 
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  #2  
Old 05-15-15, 09:01 AM
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Just as an update, I was just on the phone to an electrician I had contacted via Thumbtack. He told me that he shouldn't mention it, cause it talks away business from other electricians, but he said he had encountered this problem before and the solution was to have the power company come out and "recharge" the lines. Hopefully this will work.
 
  #3  
Old 05-15-15, 10:00 AM
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Recharge the lines? Whoever told you that is no electrician!

I suggest that you call the utility's emergency number and explain your problem and what has been done. This could be a VERY serious condition and it could be on the utility's side of the meter or even at their distribution transformer.
Do not delay because if this is a utility problem it will only get worse and could damage some of your appliances.
 
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Old 05-15-15, 10:03 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

the solution was to have the power company come out and "recharge" the lines.
I've never heard of something so out of left field before. I wouldn't mention that to another electrician either as he'll probably laugh in your face.

Your service is made up of two legs and a neutral. 240v devices are connected to both legs while 120v devices are connected from one leg to neutral. The problem could be in the service to your house but it sounds like it's more in the house.

You said things were flickering and going out.... was anything getting brighter ?

If you haven't already done it..... go thru the entire house and make a list of what is on what circuit. You need to determine what devices or lights are failing and on which circuit. Without this info everything is a guess.

I'm called constantly to repair problems like yours. Usually the problem comes down to a loose connection behind a receptacle or a loose connection on a receptacle.

The reason the problem becomes more apparent in the morning and at night is because the more load you put on the circuit.... the more intermittent it becomes.

On edit.... I see you have the power company coming out to check their lines. When they get there put on some heavy load devices.... like the A/C or electric range, etc. Heavy loads will cause intermittents to show up quicker.
 
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Old 05-15-15, 10:53 AM
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Thanks for the replies and advice!

About there maybe being too much of a load on during the night and morning, I'm not so sure. I work at home and, save for maybe about four low watt lights, all the power we have on during the day is about the same at night. In fact, during the day the washer and dryer are also used and none of this causes any of the flickering or outages that come at night or in the early morning. In the last couple of days, I tried to put on as many items as I could for a couple of hours during the day and everything ran without a problem, though once, AFTER I had turned off virtually all the items, we did have a total upstairs outage that only lasted for a second.

I haven't recognized any brightening of objects when the power comes back on, and haven't felt any outlets that were warm or hot. I did notice something odd, though, with my AA battery recharger. The batteries were all charged up and the device showed a green light. When the power last night started going off, however, this would consistently show a red light (not sure how the power outage caused the fully charged batteries to lose power and show that they needed to be recharged for the following half day).

Not sure if any of this helps. Hopefully the power company ppl, who should be coming today, will be able to fix something. If not, should I get an electrician to focus on the upstairs connections (since only the upstairs has outages)? If there is a loose connection in, let's say, a junction box or some wire corrosion, can he/she detect this by examining all the outlets?
 
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Old 05-15-15, 06:37 PM
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I was just on the phone to an electrician I had contacted via Thumbtack
What is Thumbtack? ................
 
  #7  
Old 05-15-15, 08:31 PM
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I took it as a service for locating professionals like Angies List.
 
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Old 05-16-15, 04:54 AM
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If your whole upstairs is on one breaker, that is something that needs to be addressed. did your electrician replace that one breaker in the panel? It is possible it is fualty.

Most likely though you have a lose connection somewhere, my guess is in the attic at eiter a light fixture or junction box since it is possible that temp changes in the attic in the mornings and night could contribute to and already bad connection getting worse.

The problem is almost certainly in your house somewhere since it is localized on your second floor to one circuit. If it were on the power company, you should be having this problem throughout the entire house.
 
  #9  
Old 05-16-15, 07:33 AM
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Sometimes, though not always, the power upstairs is knocked out if somebody uses the microwave on the first floor
The microwave is most certainly not on the upstairs circuit. This makes me believe the problem could be in the panel, the meter socket, the service connections or further back on the power companies side. I'd also start with having the power company check their connections.
 
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Old 05-16-15, 07:38 AM
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I took it as a service for locating professionals like Angies List.
You are right, PJ, I found it, but think I'd in the future stay away from it.

https://www.thumbtack.com/

Thumbtack obviously doesn't check out who they are listing as qualified professionals.
 
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Old 05-16-15, 08:05 AM
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An interesting development here. Yesterday I had a chance to speak to my next door neighbors and they say that they've been having pretty much the same problems (flickering and fluctuations but not outages, though). We live in adjoining town homes and share a wall together. Still waiting for the power company to show up, but will call them and let them know about this.

The electrician I had out before looked inside our meter box and said it looked virtually brand new.

I was wondering about something. All the homes in our neighborhood were given these "smart boxes" from the power company. Could it be possible the power losses are from this and we are being rationed? Our neighbor seems to think so, but I'm not sure how depriving us of power for seconds at a time here and there could really accomplish anything. It is odd, though that we almost always have some problem right around 7AM and at 7PM. Had a couple of outages just after 7pm last night, but after that, till right now, everything is running perfectly fine again (unlike two nights ago, which was one outage after another).
 
  #12  
Old 05-16-15, 08:12 AM
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Did your neighbour happen to mention if it was only happening in one area of the house like you are experiencing? Or is it their entire house?

If you are both experiencing the same thing, and are on separate meters, it could be a bad pole transformer. Maybe ask a couple other neighbours if they are experiencing the same thing.

Smart meters do not work in the way you are suggesting, even if they were fualty, I dont think you would get these types of results.

I still think it is odd that its only happing on a specific circuit.
 
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