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Old 04-01-2013, 08:20 PM   #1
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Electric randomly turns off and back on?


I'm having trouble with a circuit in my Aunt's kitchen. She lost power to her microwave and fridge. I tried resetting the breaker to no avail. Then I replaced the circuit breaker with a brand new one. Nothing. Still no power. So I put the old breaker back in just because I figured there wasn't anything wrong with the old breaker.

I had to leave for another job, so I didn't get to diagnose the cause of the problem nor solve it. But get this - my aunt called me a couple hours later and said her appliances turned back on! It boggles my mind. What could be causing this? Could a mouse have chewed through wires or something?

Thanks!

Chris

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Old 04-01-2013, 08:26 PM   #2
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Electric randomly turns off and back on?


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Originally Posted by Chris Sweeney View Post
I'm having trouble with a circuit in my Aunt's kitchen. She lost power to her microwave and fridge. I tried resetting the breaker to no avail. Then I replaced the circuit breaker with a brand new one. Nothing. Still no power. So I put the old breaker back in just because I figured there wasn't anything wrong with the old breaker.

I had to leave for another job, so I didn't get to diagnose the cause of the problem nor solve it. But get this - my aunt called me a couple hours later and said her appliances turned back on! It boggles my mind. What could be causing this? Could a mouse have chewed through wires or something?

Thanks!

Chris
check for back stabbed receps on the circuit.

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Old 04-01-2013, 08:40 PM   #3
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Electric randomly turns off and back on?


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check for back stabbed receps on the circuit.
Hmmm, interesting thought. Are you suggesting that if a receptacle is back-stabbed (as opposed to the wires wrapped around the screws), it would open the circuit, therefore causing the lack of power? Is that common when back-stabbing receps?
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Old 04-01-2013, 08:53 PM   #4
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Electric randomly turns off and back on?


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Hmmm, interesting thought. Are you suggesting that if a receptacle is back-stabbed (as opposed to the wires wrapped around the screws), it would open the circuit, therefore causing the lack of power? Is that common when back-stabbing receps?

Yes it is !
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Old 04-02-2013, 06:35 AM   #5
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Yes it is !
Thanks, I'll check the receptacles/switches to see if they are backstabbed and possibly loose. I'll let the thread know what I come up with!
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:06 PM   #6
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Electric randomly turns off and back on?


Ok, I'm back. I went to my Aunt's yesterday to continue troubleshooting the problem since I actually had some time to dig deeper. I shut off the circuit that was causing the trouble and took note of the receptacles & switches on that circuit. I removed the 4 receptacle covers and 1 switch plate as well each switch/receptacle. None of them were back-stabbed. Here is what I found though.

At the electrical box, we have a 20-amp circuit - great, no problem. The wire used was 12/2 romex which is supposed to be used on a 20-amp circuit - so that's great too and not a problem. The 1 switch and the 4 receptacles, however, were all 15-amp units. So I'm assuming that perhaps one of the receptacles/switches failed, maybe if/when there was a power surge greater than 15 amps.

Does that sound like a logical reason for the problem occurring?

I replaced the 1 switch and 4 receptacles with 20-amp units, and haven't had a problem yet, nor do I expect one, but I'm still crossing my fingers.
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Old 04-09-2013, 05:10 PM   #7
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Electric randomly turns off and back on?


Nope, has nothing to do with the problum.
15 amp recpticals are used all the time on a 20 amp. circut.
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Old 04-09-2013, 06:55 PM   #8
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Nope, has nothing to do with the problum.
15 amp recpticals are used all the time on a 20 amp. circut.
Could it be the problem though? In other words, Could it happen? If, say, 19 amps flow through into a receptacle rated for 15-amps, could that break the 15-amp receptacle?
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Old 04-09-2013, 07:07 PM   #9
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Could it be the problem though? In other words, Could it happen? If, say, 19 amps flow through into a receptacle rated for 15-amps, could that break the 15-amp receptacle?
no. really sounds like a loose wire somewhere.
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Old 04-12-2013, 12:06 AM   #10
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Electric randomly turns off and back on?


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Could it be the problem though? In other words, Could it happen? If, say, 19 amps flow through into a receptacle rated for 15-amps, could that break the 15-amp receptacle?

Very unlikely !
way down on the list of priorities !
You have a bad/loose connecttion somewhere,
possibbly a faulty cable.
When there is not much current flowing,
the joint is sort of functioning,
but under real load, the joint heats up
and becomes open circuit,
Once load is removed, it cools down,
and becomes sort of functional again.
But as time goes by the heat generated
by the bad join will cause fire.
You need to find the problem
before this happens !
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Old 04-12-2013, 06:34 AM   #11
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Electric randomly turns off and back on?


I really appreciate all your responses guys. My aunt actually called me the following day after installing the 20-amp receps/switches, and the power was back off again, so I suppose you're right that it wasn't those. I went over to her place again, determined to find the cause of the problem.

The fridge, microwave, and things plugged into a couple other receptacles (i.e. toaster) are not getting power. However, when I hold my Fluke proximity tester up to those receptacles or appliance cords, I hear "beeeeeep", as if there is power. For example, I hold my tester up to the fridge power cord, and "beeeeep" - there is power in the cord.

So great, I have power in the lines to the appliances, but the appliances are not functioning. It seems as though the power is not completing its circuit. Could I assume then that there is indeed a loose wire somewhere, most likely a white/neutral?

Thanks again!
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Old 04-12-2013, 02:21 PM   #12
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Electric randomly turns off and back on?


A non contact volt tester will not tell you accurately for this situation.

You need a multi meter to test the voltage. Get one......

Plug something you know works into the outlet (radio, lamp, etc.)

If it doesn't work, you don't have 120v at the outlet.

Still sounds like a loose connection. Expansion//contraction of a loose connection from heat is causing the power interruptions.

Check wirenuts, check wiring at panel, junctions......of course turn off power before doing so.

Heck, a previous owner or contractor might have a hidden splice that failed= Running a new circuit and tearing out walls...
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:12 PM   #13
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Electric randomly turns off and back on?


If the non contact tester says that the hot line is hot,
Then the problem most likely lies with your neutral line.
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:21 PM   #14
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Electric randomly turns off and back on?


Are the connections secure at the panel?
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Old 04-12-2013, 05:23 PM   #15
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If the non contact tester says that the hot line is hot,
Then the problem most likely lies with your neutral line.
Thanks, that's what I thought. Since I rewired the receps in the circuit, I know that my wiring is good there. I'll have to double check the neutral line coming into the breaker box; that is something that I haven't yet done. Hopefully it's not a hidden splice that failed, as mentioned above by Seansy59.

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