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Old 12-28-2012, 02:37 PM   #1
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


Hello,
Sometime during last night the space heaters in our bedroom and our son's bedroom stopped working (as did the fan plugged into our space heater's outlet). The smaller space heater in our daughter's room (and the monitor plugged into it) continued to work through the night.

Early this morning I unplugged our heater and fan and plugged them into an outlet on the adjacent wall and they worked just fine. Same thing in my son's room. By the way, the heaters are ceramic heaters/fans.

This is the really strange part. When I went downstairs I realized that every outlet and every light that had just a fluorescent light in it was no longer working. One fan/light upstairs with both a fluorescent and incandescent was just fine.

It is not just the lights and lamps that are out, entire outlets don't work. But at the same time other outlets on adjacent walls in the same room (without fluorescents plugged in or connected to them) continue to work just fine. In the kitchen, the fluorescent lights on the ceiling and above the sink are out. But all of the outlets work as do the microwave and refrigerator lights.
Any thoughts? Need more info?
I am completely confused. I checked the breaker and one was flipped. I flipped it back but nothing changed.

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Old 12-28-2012, 02:57 PM   #2
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


Got a meter and know how to use it?
If so you may have lost one leg of you incoming power so only one side of your panel is working because you only have 110 volts coming in not 220 volt.
If that's the case call the power company .

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Old 12-28-2012, 03:08 PM   #3
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


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Got a meter and know how to use it?
If so you may have lost one leg of you incoming power so only one side of your panel is working because you only have 110 volts coming in not 220 volt.
If that's the case call the power company .
Thank you, but I am less than a novice. What is a meter? And why would the incoming power stop coming in?
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Old 12-28-2012, 03:40 PM   #4
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


The breaker that was tripped...did you turn it to "OFF" before turning it back "ON"? That is how they are reset. What does that breaker control? What Joe meant by a meter is a volt/ohm meter to check power at various point in the electrical system. any number or reasons you may have lost an incoming leg of power both on your side and the power company side.
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Old 12-28-2012, 03:44 PM   #5
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


Another thought...is your breaker box labeled as to what each breaker controls? If so (and it should be)can you tell which circuits are not working and which ones are? If you lost a leg then every other circuit will be out
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Old 12-28-2012, 04:44 PM   #6
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


This is a meter -
Name:  volt meter.png
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A lot of diy'ers have them.
You will need one of these to check your incoming hots !
If you dont feel confident enough to do so
best to call an electricain !
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Old 12-28-2012, 05:19 PM   #7
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


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Another thought...is your breaker box labeled as to what each breaker controls? If so (and it should be)can you tell which circuits are not working and which ones are? If you lost a leg then every other circuit will be out
Well, it is almost every other one. All on the left side are ok (odd numbers) except some under a sub-panel which controls the upstairs and some air conditioner outlets. Most of the right side is out except the garbage disposal and a fan in the living room. Again, what is odd is that the only things (outlets and direct connections) that aren't working are the outlets to which the space heaters were attached and outlets/direct-connections that had fluorescent bulbs.
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:20 PM   #8
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


First--a brief explanation on house hold power--

Your house has two different 110 volt lines coming into the breaker box from the power company--

They are called legs---in the breaker box every other breaker is a different leg---this allows the use of double handle breakers to give 220 volts for air conditioners/dryers/stoves and other power hungry appliances.

If half the house is dead----it is likely one of the 'legs' (110 lines) is not working.

this is usually a power company problem---and the will fix it for free if the problem is before the meter (In most cases)

Turn off your main breaker and then turn it back on----if that simple operation does not cure your problem---call the power company--

there is nothing a novice can do---the power company will advise you--

If the problem is inside the house--you may need an electrician---call the power company first--they are free
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Old 12-28-2012, 08:30 PM   #9
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


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Originally Posted by emccomb1 View Post
Hello,
Sometime during last night the space heaters in our bedroom and our son's bedroom stopped working (as did the fan plugged into our space heater's outlet). The smaller space heater in our daughter's room (and the monitor plugged into it) continued to work through the night.

Don't tell me that you used at least two heaters running the same time both can trip the breaker without question asked due most North Americian heaters are useally 1500 watt range at high setting if multi heat level and both on the same time that is 3000 watts no question asked.

If you have both heater at low heat setting it may be ok but the issue is the amout of current is pretty high even both at low setting at either 500 or 750 watt each that come up total wattage as single heater at full heat ( wattage ) setting so read on more you will see more a bit.


Early this morning I unplugged our heater and fan and plugged them into an outlet on the adjacent wall and they worked just fine. Same thing in my son's room. By the way, the heaters are ceramic heaters/fans.

This is the really strange part. When I went downstairs I realized that every outlet and every light that had just a fluorescent light in it was no longer working. One fan/light upstairs with both a fluorescent and incandescent was just fine.

It is not just the lights and lamps that are out, entire outlets don't work. But at the same time other outlets on adjacent walls in the same room (without fluorescents plugged in or connected to them) continue to work just fine. In the kitchen, the fluorescent lights on the ceiling and above the sink are out. But all of the outlets work as do the microwave and refrigerator lights.
Any thoughts? Need more info?
I am completely confused. I checked the breaker and one was flipped. I flipped it back but nothing changed.
You will have to flip to the off postion but you will have TO override more by pushing more to feel the click on them then go back on postion that how many breakers are designed like that.

Second thing once you get the breaker back on you will have to check the connections to make sure they are not burnted or loose from the amount load of heaters running that is very important part.

Now the other thing is never run two heaters on the same circuit as you find out on that part.

Is there any reason why need to run the heater if the HVAC ( Furance ) is not working properly ??

And the other thing never go sleep when the electrique portable heaters are running. And also make sure your smoke detectours are working well.

Merci,
Marc
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Old 12-29-2012, 10:05 AM   #10
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


The power company confirmed that I have full power into the house and an electrician is coming today.
I think it was running the two larger heaters and one small heater all at once. However, isn't it still strange that only the two outlets powering the heaters went out upstairs? The other upstairs outlets and fixtures are fine. But downstairs, outside, and in the basement all of the fixtures attached to fluorescent lights are out while those attached to incandescent lights are fine. By the way, we don't have any fluorescents upstairs. Can that really just be a coincidence? That all of our fluorescents happen to be on the same breaker?
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Old 12-29-2012, 12:15 PM   #11
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


You indicated a breaker was tripped. Do you know what that breaker goes to? Is the legend in the breaker box filled out telling you what circuits are what in the house? Do you know what brand breaker box you have?
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Old 12-29-2012, 12:31 PM   #12
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


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You indicated a breaker was tripped. Do you know what that breaker goes to? Is the legend in the breaker box filled out telling you what circuits are what in the house? Do you know what brand breaker box you have?
Well, I can answer some of your questions. But first, we have power again. I had reset the lone breaker that was obviously tripped, but that didn't fix the issue because it was only for the attic fan. I went back and turned each off individually and then back on; that gave us back our power. This must have been an issue for the prior owners because they have a sub-panel running off of 17 and 19 on the left side of the main breaker. The sub has 4 individual breakers for window a/c unit outlets upstairs. I'm going to use those for the two heaters going forward.

Now, the confusing part. We had some electrical work done when we moved in about 18 months ago and he replaced a couple breakers - 1, 3, 5, 7, and 9, I think, on the right side, as well as 17 and 19. 11-15 were left alone and not changed for whatever reason. 1-9 are the ones I had to reset (but they weren't tripped) to get our power back. These also happen to be the breakers for all of lights for which I had to replace incandescent bulbs 2-3 times in the first 6 months we lived here. That is why they now all have fluorescent lights. I think he did something wrong when he installed the new breakers (or whatever he did) that causes too much power to go to these outlets and fixtures, thereby causing the incandescent bulbs to die quickly (this also happened with our Christmas tree lights). The lights upstairs were OK because he didn't do work on them, and we haven't noticed a problem with #17 and #19 because one is the garbage disposal and the other isn't to a light.

Any idea what he may have done wrong?
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Old 12-29-2012, 12:40 PM   #13
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


Replacing breakers would not cause you to get more power than usual. Having a bad neutral could be causing an intermittent problem where you could be getting more voltage on one leg and not enough on the other.
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Old 12-29-2012, 12:50 PM   #14
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


As RRolleston eluded to...If you were losing incandescent bulbs quickly then you have a neutral problem somewhere. and changing breakers will not cause that. Why were the breakers replaced? When the electrician comes back have him verify that the power in the box is 120 volts on each breaker and not just the main. Not knowing how old the house is or the type of wire you have will make diagnosing this kind of hard for us
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Old 12-29-2012, 12:50 PM   #15
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Half of my outlets and lights went out last night


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Replacing breakers would not cause you to get more power than usual. Having a bad neutral could be causing an intermittent problem where you could be getting more voltage on one leg and not enough on the other.
I'm trying to find our records. This is an older (80-ish years) house that has/had knob and tube. I think that some of the outlets weren't grounded when we moved in and we had them replaced with three-prongs. Could that work have done it?

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