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Old 01-16-2008, 12:18 PM   #1
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Major electrical problem!?

For a little background, I rent a home built in the 40's or 50's. It is a somewhat rural location where we have had some mice in the past. In addition, the owner of the property thinks he is a handy-man and did a lot of half-a$$ work on the place himself including electrical. We have updated 110 (or 120 amp?) service with a breaker box that looks like a hodge-podge. Anyway, the problem started with a breaker that kept tripping when we used the GFI in the bathroom for a hair dryer, etc. No big deal. Then it evolved to the power going out without tripping a breaker, then coming back on by itself sometime later. Now it goes out with really no load on it at all and stays off for long periods, it also seems to be taking out other areas of the house with it that are on different breakers (though Im not certain of that). Anyway, my main concern is that we have a serious safety issue regardng a fire, etc. I've left a message for the landlord and he sent some hill-billy out in the past who was supposedly an electrician and said everything looked fine. I realize I may have to take action and get an electrician here on my own, Im just looking for ome input as to the possible cause of the problem and how immediate of a safety concern it is. Thanks


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Old 01-16-2008, 01:02 PM   #2
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A common problem even with correctly wired and fully code compliant homes, is back stabbed, or push-in-and-stick connections at the receptacles and switches. These can oxidize if not already loosened a bit when the receptacle (or switch) was stuffed into the box just after wiring. Vibration such as froma passing truck on the street outside can finally break and remake the connection.

Since circuit (branch circuit) cables daisy chain from one receptacle to the next, it is possible for several receptacles to go dead at once.

The solution is to undo each receptacle (and switch) and use the screw heads or screw down clamps inside to hold the wires on.

Even screw terminals need to be treated with care. If tightened with tremendous force, they will strip and then be loose. If not tightened enough, they can work loose by themselves.

If you connect the feed directly to the continuation (using an extra short piece of wire to reach the receptacle) perhaps because one of the two screws got stripped, you must do this treatment to the neutral (white wires) if it got done to the hot wires.

Also, turn off each breaker in turn and make sure the (branch circuit) wire going into the side of the breaker is screwed down firmly, again not hideously tightly.


Last edited by AllanJ; 01-16-2008 at 01:19 PM.
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Old 01-16-2008, 02:02 PM   #3
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1. Get some renters insurance.

2. Get all your family, pets, photos, cash etc out of the house.

3. Plug in a space heater or two into the outlets in question.

4. Get ready to call 911

Intermittent power is the most dangerous kind. Something somewhere has a poor connection. When the juice jumps that gap it creates sparks and heat which obviouly can lead to fire.

At the very minimum, get some battery powered smoke detectors and organize a family fire drill.
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Old 01-16-2008, 03:34 PM   #4
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You need to find a circuit diagrams in your place. If the landlord don't have one. ask him/her to make one.

problem like that need a circuit diagrams to find out what is happening.

It could be just a loose connection somewhere like upstairs said.
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Old 01-16-2008, 06:22 PM   #5
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Hey, your the one who rented it. That landlord isn't so dumb.
They are not referred to as "hill-billies" any more.
The correct association is "Appalachian American".
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Old 01-16-2008, 09:42 PM   #6
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They are not referred to as "hill-billies" any more.
The correct association is "Appalachian American".
I thought it was 'sons of the soil'.

Seriously, 220 is right on the money. These types of problems range from loose neutrals at the service to poorly connected receptacles. ANYTHING could happen. Cover your A$$. Get renters insurance. It costs virtually nothing. If you feel really strongly about it and are going to move soon, call a building inspector. If they come, your landlord will make life hard for you. Quick question: do the same outlets/lights keep going off, or does the problem 'roll' around the house?
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Old 01-18-2008, 06:14 PM   #7
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This has NOTHING to do with your post/problem but "Rexkwondo" is beyond hysterical for a member handle! Awesome!

No more flyin' solo...
Well, now, there's what's right and what's right and never the twain shall meet.
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Old 02-06-2008, 04:13 PM   #8
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When I used to wire house there was 3 things that 80 percent of the time fixed everything. These are not jokes they are the truth. Most people look over them because they are so simple, Tripped GFCI, Burned out Light Bulb, Loose Neutral in the panel. I don;t think that the first two will do you any good to check out, but the neutral in the panel may be worth checking into. If the electrician that wired it did not tighten the lugs tight enough or didn't use Noalox on the connectors, that could be your problem. If that is your prob. it can be easy to fix if you caught it early enough. If the neutrals are loose, tighten them. If they have been arcing for a while it can actually burn away the wire or the lugs. You can take the cover off the panel and use an insulated screwdriver to move the wires CAREFULLY. If you see an arc, stop, call an electrician and tell him what you done. They'll be there quick.


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