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Old 10-15-2012, 09:22 AM   #1
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Electrical weirdness


I'll apologize in advance if this is too long and wordy, or if it's just something simple and dumb that I am missing.

Out of the blue, no alterations or modifications made anywhere, nothing new installed or plugged, I put something in the microwave and turned it on. After maybe 2 seconds the circuit dies, along with two other circuits that are not connected to it. No breakers tripped, no indications as far as sounds or smells like scorched insulation, etc. My initial thought was "Oh well, the microwave is shot, guess we got our money out of it, blah blah blah" and tbh if that was all it was I could live with that. What has my mind all a'boggled is how and why the other circuits went dead, and after about 5-10 minutes, they came back. There are not any other breakers of any type that I know of other than the standard ones in the box. Confused and trying hard not to teach my 8 yr old any "new" words he won't need until he's much older, I started huntin'. Did a cursory but pretty much thorough check of everything I could get at, wiring, connections in boxes, breakers, grounds, yadda yadda yadda, hoping against hope that something would reveal itself. Nada.

So, being stubborn and too handy for my own good, I opened the microwave looking for some sign of trouble, checked internal fuses, etc., again, doin' the nada dance. Put it back together and pondered a bit. The circuits that had issues are all original wiring in the house, so wth, took the mw and plugged it into a different one, a fresh circuit with a low load that is not connected to anything before the breaker box. Hmmmmm, buzzzz, blatt! Return of the dead circuits, no breakers tripped, just no juice in several places. Again, after waiting it out the power returned. A'ight, I may be hardheaded but I ain't stupid, no more mw for the nonce. But the gods of electricity laughed, when we tossed something in the dryer later, same ****.

So rather than make a novelette out of this, huh? Any ideas anyone? Completely open to suggestions and willing to offer several new curses in exchange.

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Old 10-15-2012, 09:26 AM   #2
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Electrical weirdness


It sounds as if there is a loose connection on one of the legs of the service. Could be a sub panel, at the main panel, in the meter socket, at one of the POCO's connections. I don't know how comfortable you are working with electricity, I would suggest calling an electrician when working with these parts.

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Old 10-15-2012, 09:46 AM   #3
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Electrical weirdness


Quote:
Originally Posted by k_buz View Post
It sounds as if there is a loose connection on one of the legs of the service. Could be a sub panel, at the main panel, in the meter socket, at one of the POCO's connections. I don't know how comfortable you are working with electricity, I would suggest calling an electrician when working with these parts.
Thanks for the response, right now I am trying to diagnose what the issue is before I decide what to do. A serious $$$$ shortage might preclude calling a pro, at least for now. I am semi-comfortable with most anything (that stubborn thing mentioned earlier) but just for my peace of mind I'd like to know the what in WTF? And why would it affect just some circuits while leaving others untouched?
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Old 10-15-2012, 10:58 AM   #4
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Electrical weirdness


If the is a problem with one leg of the service, (in general) half the service will not work. Something you can try yourself is turning the main breaker off, then back on to see if this clears the problem.
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Old 10-15-2012, 11:03 AM   #5
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Electrical weirdness


Ok, took what you said, did some Googlage, and (carefully!) checked/retightened the connections at the breaker panel, waiting for the other shoe to drop but it seems to have settled the issue. Thanks for pointing me in the right direction.
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Old 10-15-2012, 11:39 AM   #6
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Electrical weirdness


The issue was probably loose connections to the main breaker, or loose internal connections in the main breaker. You probably fixed it, but it may come back eventually. If it does come back, it may require replacement of the main breaker. As I'm sure you know since you did your research, there is no way to remove power from the incoming service conductors on the line side of the main breaker. Not only can't you turn it off, it is not protected by fuses or circuit breakers. If you cause a short circuit there, it WILL set your house on fire and spray you with white-hot metal plasma. That's why this is not considered DIY work. But if you're going to do it, wear excellent personal protective equipment. Cotton clothing that won't melt on your skin and a face shield to save your eyes at least.
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Old 10-15-2012, 12:48 PM   #7
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Electrical weirdness


Do many lights in various locations all around the house stop working, or just a few in one or two rooms?

You probably have a loose connection in the branch circuit that serves the microwave oven, possibly in an outlet box halfway between the microwave and the panel. After a few minutes the loose joint cools down and establishes contact again. You need to find it and fix it because it can get hot enough to start a fire.

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