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Old 08-06-2008, 05:11 PM   #1
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Power off and on issue


I'm new to this electrical thing so forgive me if my questions are dumb.

Basically I have been experiencing this annoying power off and on problem recently. Everytime the outage is only for seconds, but this resets all the digital clocks on my appliances and shuts down my computer unexpectedly. I'm not sure whether this is caused by power surge or anything else, so can someone please help shed some light on the possible cause of this and the fix? Is this something internal to my home, or it's a power company issue? I asked the neighbors and they don't seem to have this problem so I guess it's internal? But then why does it just go out for a couple seconds and come back all by itself? None of the circuit breakers are tripped and they all look normal.

Thanks for the help.

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Old 08-06-2008, 05:28 PM   #2
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Power off and on issue


Is there any pattern to the power going out? Does it affect the whole house, or just certain circuits?
Do you notice a lot of flickering before power goes out?
Does this happen all the time, or just on breezy days, etc?

If your neighbors aren't experiencing the problem, my first stop would be to call your power company. You might have a bad splice connection on the pole, at your service head (where the utility's wires join your service), or in the meter box or the meter itself.

Another place to look is in the main panel, the feed coming into the main breaker, and the main breaker is bolted to the main bus.
You need an electrician to check this, since you cannot turn off the power, and need an insulated tool to tighten the bolts up there. Perhaps the utility co would check this for you when they check their lines and the meter.

I'm sure you'll get lots of replies here. Lots of guys who have a lot of experience!

FW

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Old 08-06-2008, 05:36 PM   #3
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Power off and on issue


Thanks FW. To answer your questions:

Yes, when it happens it affects the whole house.
By flickering do you mean the flickering of lights? I haven't noticed any of that because all those that I experienced when I'm home happened during the day time and I don't have the lights on.
It occurs about once every week or two, more frequent in the summer than in winter (like it might happen once a month in winter).

I'll call up the power company to run a check, while I still keep my ears open to listen to any useful opinions here.

Thanks again!
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Old 08-06-2008, 07:24 PM   #4
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Power off and on issue


Try slamming doors or kicking the panels and find if one of those actions triggers the outage. Then look for bad connection in the nearest area

I'd reccomend avoiding the use of high current devices until the issue is resolved to minimize overheating / fire risks
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Old 08-06-2008, 07:37 PM   #5
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Power off and on issue


So, this has been going on for a long time, more than a year?
It's beginning to sound like definitely a power company problem.
Perhaps it is happening to your neighbors, but they just don't notice it because they're not home when it happens, or have battery-back up on their computers?

Do you live in a single family home?
Reason I ask is that when I lived in an apartment, I noticed every now and then that my clocks and microwave had been shut off. They were having occasional electrical work done in the building.

Speaking of battery back up (UPS; Uninterruptable Power Supply), I would highly recommend that you purchase one for your computer and other critical low wattage equipment. It will save you the headache of having to reboot, and to reset your clock.
Most of the digital clocks I have also have their own 9V battery for back up. They don't keep good time on battery, but if it's only for a few seconds, you won't notice that.
Just make sure you replace the batteries when the batt low indicator lights up.

A UPS for your computer shouldn't cost you more than about $75 these days, unless you are like I, who have a computer with a fast video card and 375W power supply that draws more than 2A.

Regardless, I would definitely contact your power company.

FW
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Old 08-06-2008, 10:36 PM   #6
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Power off and on issue


I live in a townhouse community where 5 town homes share the block of building. However, I believe the external power wiring should be not much different from a single family home since they are all independent for each home.

When it comes down to computer, I have a workstation class machine which has a 800W power supply. So I guess a $75 UPS would definitely not work...

I've placed the call to the power company and they should be sending someone for inspection on external circuits in a few days. I'll post the results.

Thanks for the tips again!
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Old 08-06-2008, 11:24 PM   #7
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Power off and on issue


Are there disconnects on the outside of the building?
I've seen apartment/townhome buildings where all the meters are located on one wall of a building, and there is usually a disconnect for each one. They are supposed to be locked, and only the power co and maybe the building manager have the key to unlock and shut it off.
If some (including yours) have had the locks tampered with, it is possible that kids looking for something to do might go around once in a while and shut off power for a few seconds for each one that is unlocked??

I know, it's a long shot, but I've heard of this happening.

800 Watts? That must be a server class machine. I had a Dell WS once that had a pretty large PS, but I don't think it was 800W.

OTOH, checking my current specs, I find that my system has a 550W supply, not 350.
Guess 800 doesn't sound so monsterous now<g>

It will be interesting to find what, if anything the PC finds.

FW
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Old 08-06-2008, 11:30 PM   #8
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Power off and on issue


Quote:
Originally Posted by Ash View Post
Try slamming doors or kicking the panels and find if one of those actions triggers the outage. Then look for bad connection in the nearest area

I'd reccomend avoiding the use of high current devices until the issue is resolved to minimize overheating / fire risks
That's scary. If slamming a door would cause the connection to open, it's really bad!
I would shut off the main breaker and wait for an electrician.

FW

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