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Old 09-19-2010, 08:11 PM   #1
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Multiple circuits losing power


I have been fighting a problem for a couple of weeks now. If my wife is running her hair dryer and curling iron in the upsairs bath, we lose partial power over the entire house in various rooms. If she runs the washing machine and electric dryer at the same time and maybe a vacuum cleaner in another room, we lose the same partial power, to the same circuits. We have a 2 story house and 100A breaker box. We are now losing power to parts of at least 6 circuits (out of 16 total) when this happens - we have never had to reset a breaker. Nothing is tripping in the box. When this issue first began a couple of weeks ago, this only affected half the items on 1 circuit - I replaced that breaker with a new one. Now the situation has progressed to affect at least 6 circuits when this happens. This was occuring and resetting itself within 5 minutes each time, but starting today it quit re-setting itself. Out of frustration, I punched the breaker box and everything came back on! I have had to do this approximately 4-5 times today now. Also, I should note that I sometimes hear "sizzling" coming from the box, and have noticed lights dimming prior to losing power. I have taken the box cover off and tightened all connections at the breakers and the neutral bus bar - still periodically have the sizzling, lights dim, power loss.....

I am calling electricians tomorrow to get a pro to look at it. What could be causing partial loss to multiple circuits? I don't understand why the entire circuit wouldn't be affected. Why are the individual breakers not tripping? Worse case is I have the entire box and all breakers replaced - any ideas on cost for a pro and time to complete this? I'd be worried about food spoiling if power was off for more than 8 hours

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Old 09-19-2010, 09:50 PM   #2
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Multiple circuits losing power


What brand of panel do you have? The sizzling may be an arcing circuit breaker. Your main panel has two bus bars and you could be loosing power to just one of the bus bars if the main breaker doesn't make a good connection to the bar. This could explain the partial power loss.

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Old 09-19-2010, 10:11 PM   #3
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Multiple circuits losing power


You got something bad.

Sizzling in the panel means loose connections and they will get worse and may damage the panel behond repair. Then you have a period of no power while a new panel is installed.

You will want to unsnap each breaker from the panel and examine the fin underneath and also the clip on the bottom of the breaker. If either is deformed or burned or loose yuou may be able to file it clean and adjust the uderside of the breaker to fit reasonably tight but if not you have o get a new braker and.or use a different fin and slot in the panel.

Alsosuspect is the main breaker and the big lugs where the fat service wires come in. These in all fairness need an experioenced electrician to fix.

Don't wait. Get it fixed now.
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:30 PM   #4
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Multiple circuits losing power


The box is a Square D model. The problem has definately been deteriorating since it began. I am surprised that earlier today when I had the cover off and was right there listening to it sizzle that I did not see any arcing, smoking, etc. I turned off the main and all of the wires felt fine - nothing warm to the touch. I don't see anything melted, bubbled, burnt, etc. Whenever I lose partial power, the electric range and dryer always go and they are on breakers on opposite sides of the box. So, the main breaker itself might be suspect since I have both sides of the panel being affected? I'm going to try and get someone out tomorrow. Pounding on the box everytime it happens to get it going again isn't going to cut it.
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Old 09-19-2010, 10:57 PM   #5
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Multiple circuits losing power


Quote:
Originally Posted by Skip72 View Post
Whenever I lose partial power, the electric range and dryer always go and they are on breakers on opposite sides of the box. So, the main breaker itself might be suspect since I have both sides of the panel being affected? I'm going to try and get someone out tomorrow. Pounding on the box everytime it happens to get it going again isn't going to cut it.
The range and dryer are 240 volt devices and use both bus bars so it makes sense that the main breaker or main connection could be the fault.
Your panel has two rows of breakers. As an example, breaker 1 may be on the left bus so breaker 3 is on the right bus. Your range and dryer each use a two pole breaker with each pole is connected to opposite bus bars.
Your 240 volt devices won't work if one bus connection is bad.
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Old 09-19-2010, 11:55 PM   #6
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Multiple circuits losing power


Most common curpit with the SqD is loose connection and I know you mention 100 amp load centre and few case the buss bar stab can go bad that where the loose connection is and also some case the main service entrance conductor can be loose as well.

If the main conductor is loose the best bet is call the electrician to deal with it due the main service entrance conductor are useally not fused at all so if something short out it will do a firework show like souped up welder.

Merci.
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Old 09-20-2010, 11:27 AM   #7
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Multiple circuits losing power


If you have possinle arcing while you are working inside the panel...please do yourself a favor and wear some good safety goggles.

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