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Rompegato 05-15-2007 06:25 PM

Electrical power goes off randomly
Hi all,

I need some help with my house wiring desperately. I am pretty good around the house and am very careful and detailed in the work that I do.

A little history:
I recently tried my hands on puting a new 20amp circuit into the basement for our new laundry room. I followed all of the instructions in my book (and verified many sources online) and everything seemed fine - it wasn't that complicated - just 1 circuit with 4 20-amp receptacles daisy chained down the line. The new circuit has only been used very lightly and only with our 1000watt microwave oven for about 5 mins each time (at the most 7x). The microwave behaved as it should. (please note that when I tried placing this 1000watt microwave in a receptable that went to the original wiring of the house that the lights in the kitchen dimmed and the microwave sounded like it was gasping for air (not getting enough juice).

Anyway, with that in mind, ever since I placed that new circuit.. about 4 months after i installed it there have been at least 2 instances where all of the electricity in the house just goes OUT.. and stays off for about 5-10 seconds... then just comes back on its own. The main breaker NEVER toggles off, and none of the other circuits toggles off. Everything just comes back up on its own.

The main breaker looks fine - the switch feels very strong and it turns off and on like it should. It's a 100amp service panel on a 1926 house..

My thinking is that it's the main breaker since ALL of the circuits went out... what do you guys think? Also, is the main service breaker something a DIY'er can replace on his own? Those huge electrical wires coming from outside into the panel look mighty dangerous.

- Rompegato

NateHanson 05-15-2007 06:33 PM

Before I did anything, I'd talk to my neighbors to see if they've experienced the same thing. That'd eliminate the possibility that the problem is with the power supply, not your house's electrical system.

Rompegato 05-15-2007 06:57 PM

Thanks :) That does make sense and I was thinking of that possibility but thought maybe it could be something with the wiring only because it all seems kinda coincidental with the new circuit going up only a few months back. I will definitely ask my neighbors though - it could just be as easy as calling ConEd and having them fix the problem outside.

But if anyone has any other idea just in case this isn't the problem, please let me know - I'd very much appreciate the help.

- Rompegato

hbsparky 05-15-2007 11:32 PM

sounds to me like you bumped the neutral/ground bar and possibly loosened the neutral.

jwhite 05-16-2007 04:23 AM

I would say a loose connection either in the main panel or comming in from the utilty.

Also, not related to your question, the washing machine is supposed to be on its own circuit. What is the micro wave doing on there?

kenny357 05-16-2007 08:27 PM

i had i similar problem and i found a bad ground buss, so i would look there first

Rompegato 05-28-2007 12:32 AM

I just had the microwave there temporarily while I finish up the basement... the washer isnt installed yet.

Thanks for all of your input guys... so far the neighbors aren't reporting anything like this so im thinking it's inside the house. I havent spotted anything wrong with the ground bus but its just a visual inspection so im going to have to get a license guy to come down and see if its the main breaker or the ground bus. thanks again for your help.

jdoherty 05-30-2007 09:50 PM

Look at this
Same thing happened to me!!!!! Here is what I found. First I pulled the main breaker and found that the main bus bar was pitted and burned all the way down all of the breaker contacts. My immediate reaction was to repair the bus bar but after welding the pits the power outage still occured. Next was to replace the distibution panel. Bought one and all the breakers. Called the power company to come pull the meter so I could replace the panel. When the meter was pulled we could see that one of the wire bugs was loose and burned and that was the cause of the arcing in the panel and the occasional power outage. New entrance cables on both sides of the meter and new wire bugs, Then anti oxidizing jell on all of the breaker contacts ,,case closed.

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