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jeweladdict 08-13-2012 12:18 AM

Light switches and outlets stopped working.
Going through a crazy heat wave here in SoCal, and one of my tenants called to tell me that the electricity isn't on in some of his rooms. He turned on his portable AC unit that he has been using all summer and something may have happened.

Downstairs:The dining room light switch, downstairs light switch do not work. All outlets around them do work though, which is odd cause I would have thought they'd be on the same circuit.

Upstairs: The side bathroom light switch does not work, but outlets all work. In the master bedroom (where the AC unit is located), the master bathroom light switch does not work, nor does the master bedroom light switch. All of the outlets do not work either. I used my outlet tester and it gave me the hot/ground reversed lights. I think this means that the white/black wires are reversed on the outlets (has not changed recently).

I went over, checked all of the breakers. Switched them to off, then back on, did not fix the issue. All breakers stay in the on position without tripping, so no shorts?

Checked all GFCI's, hit test, then reset, did not solve the problem.

We unplugged everything from all outlets, and retried, but it didn't work.

I checked continuity between the main power lines, and the output of the circuit breakers, and all were fine. I did NOT check the voltages though, and will do so in the morning when I stop by again.

Is there anything else I should check?

k_buz 08-13-2012 12:39 AM

I suspect you lost one leg of the service. You need to check the voltages at the main breaker. If one reads 0V, turn the main off, then back on. If that doesn't fix it, call the POCO.

jeweladdict 08-13-2012 12:51 AM


Originally Posted by k_buz (Post 987238)
I suspect you lost one leg of the service. You need to check the voltages at the main breaker. If one reads 0V, turn the main off, then back on. If that doesn't fix it, call the POCO.

I have 2 panels (it's a duplex).
There is a main panel outside the house that feeds 2 electrical meters
then I have sub panels inside each duplex.

I should check the pain panel to make sure that there is 240V, and then the subpanel inside the duplex (at the main breaker) to see if there is 240V right?

andrew79 08-13-2012 07:28 AM

Yup, well 120v from each leg to neutral and 240v between legs

jeweladdict 08-13-2012 10:51 AM

Went back this morning and tested the circuit breakers.

1) Main panel on the exterior of the duplex, measured the 3 wires coming from power pole. Hot to neutral was 120v for both, hot to hot was 240 v, so no issues there.

2) Inside the duplex, I measured the supply coming from the meter. There are 2 black lines heading into the bus, both black lines to ground show 120V, no issues there.

3) I measured each circuit breaker to neutral, and all show 120V. Measured the dual pole breaker, and saw 240V as expected. There was a hiccup and I learned that dual pole breaker is not the same as a space saver breaker where 2 15amp breakers are on a single block. Wasted 10 bucks replacing that with no fix.

So power coming into the house, and going out from the breaker box is ok.

I started pulling out the light switches that didn't work to see if there was power coming from the wires, but this was inconclusive. I couldn't see 110v on the wires to the switches, so I need to research what the expected switch values are. Performed the continuity test on the switches in on/off state and those all worked as expected.

I also pulled out 1 outlet in the master bedroom that had the hot/ground reversed lights and saw 110V to both terminals-ground so there is power coming to the outlets. When I try to plug in a lamp, it doesn't turn on. I didn't bother swapping the white/black wires though to try to fix the hot/ground reversed error.

What else should I try?

Emailed some electricians for estimates last night and was told:

Thats an open neutral or white wire.
$50 an hour.

I'll try opening some sockets to see if something got disconnected and then call him over.

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