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Circuits going out no tripped breaker then coming back later

Circuits going out no tripped breaker then coming back later


Old 07-20-15, 08:38 PM
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Circuits going out no tripped breaker then coming back later

So I was sleeping today (I work overnights) and the AC tv and fan shut off then on then off then on. I figured it was a brown out due to the high temps we were receiving. I unplugged everything and went back to sleep. When I woke up everything in the house was working fine. I went on about my day. This evening i was getting ready for work and my wife was going to bed. She went to turn on the AC and all the lights went out. upstairs. I went to the basement which is a different circuit and the basement lights were out. The lights outside and in the kitchen were working as normal. I reset all the breakers starting with the main breaker. Nothing that was out began to work after the reset. I had to finish getting ready for work so I told my wife i would trace it out in the morning. I finished getting ready and all the lights came back on out of no where. This happened about 20 minutes after the lights went out.

Where should I begin my investigation? My thoughts were a loose neutral somewhere but that would only affect one circuit.

The other piece of information that I discovered that was intriguing was that the 240 stove did not have the time displayed so it appeared to not have power. One leg of the service does most of the work. When i wire up my generator transfer switch, I plan to even out the load. Could i have over loaded the leg?

The house was built in 1830 so all the electrical was added on later. Most of the wiring is BX with a 100 amp service. I have replaced some runs where the BX cable was in rough shape.
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Old 07-21-15, 06:23 AM
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Sorry for the delay in answering your post.

You seem to have a problem with one leg of the 240v service to your house. If you have a meter you can carefully check directly at the main breaker for 240vac.

It is very likely that the problem is not in your panel. It can be in the service from the street or the meter box. If you determine that you don't have 240vac in your panel you can call the power company emergency number and have them check their side...... up to the meter.
Old 07-21-15, 07:34 AM
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I think the first step should be to call the power company 24h repair number and get them on the way out to check their side. Most will do this for free and repair their equipment at no charge to you. If it's a bad neutral outside your side that can cause some significant damage to your appliances if left uncorrected. In the meantime you can start detective work with a multimeter to try to narrow down the problem. If your breaker box, fuse panel or meter base is also very old that is another likely candidate for a loose or burned component. You can check the panel, but only an electrician or power company tech should inspect the meter and above.
Old 07-21-15, 07:46 PM
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I don't think your service lost the neutral because you still had some lights in the house. If you had lost the service neutral you wouldn't have had any 120 volt lights working. I believe you dropped a leg to the service probably due to a bad connection on the power company side, but it could also be in your panel or your meter socket and be your problem. However, I would also call the power company first and let them prove the problem is not theirs.
Old 07-22-15, 07:51 AM
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The best thing to do it to turn off your main breaker (all power in the house) and practice your camping skills until the problem is identified and fixed. At the very least, do not use any 240V appliances (electric stove or dryer, air conditioner, electric water heater, etc). Not only can these appliances be irreparably damaged, but they can cause other appliances to be damaged or even become fire hazards. For example, leaving the power on can cause a $150 faulty main breaker replacement to turn into a $1500 panel replacement in fairly short order.
Old 07-22-15, 10:50 AM
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Thanks for the tips! Somebody from the electric company is coming out in a few hours to have a look. Unfortunately for me, the power hasn't gone out since yesterday... It seems to have something to do with how much load is put on those circuits and most everything is unplugged except for this computer and a powerstrip powering the monitors and cable box using an extension cord from the unaffected side.

Would the problem be obvious to an electrician? Is there anything further I can do to help identify it? I'm worried they might come over, see all the power running and be unable to pinpoint what's going wrong here...

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