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Old 09-27-2010, 07:12 PM   #1
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Uh... Half my power just went out downstairs!


Need some help here.

Was doing some cleaning in my finished basement when all of a suddent my tv, computer fan and lights flickered, came back on and 2 minutes later everything went in my family room. I shut everything off in the house, went out side and checked the breaker, everything was on so I turned off all the switches for a minute. Turned them back on and went downstairs to check. Same thing

No lights in one bedroom, or the family room, my PC was off, TV did come back on. Fans where off. Rest of the lights in the house was on. So I went out side and turned the breakers off again this time for a few minutes When I opened the box back up a screw fell out so I put the screw back in (it was one that was holding the pannel to the outside of the box) and then turned everthing back on. Same issue.
.
Called xcel and was told to call a licenced electrician. So we called one of my sisters friends who is licened and I was told to get my multimeter. Of corse I cant find the damn thing. Finally after about 20 minutes my power came back on.

My sisters friend said xcel could have been working on the lines, but why would only one or two circuits in my house be effected? If I was drawing too much power wouldent the breakers trip? If this was just a rollling brownout wouldent that effect the whole house or block?

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Old 09-27-2010, 07:36 PM   #2
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Uh... Half my power just went out downstairs!


Yup, I imagine if the POCO was messing with the lines, ALL power would have gone out.
I'd fully expect it to happen again. Perhaps a loose breaker in the panel or a loose neutral?
Power down and run a screwdriver over every neutral and hot in the panel, then turn it back on.
You'd be surprised how easily those darn screws can come loose!

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Old 09-27-2010, 07:37 PM   #3
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Uh... Half my power just went out downstairs!


Xcel just called back and said its a common problem and they get complaints all the time about it and basicaly said "its normal"

WTF!?
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Old 09-27-2010, 07:43 PM   #4
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Uh... Half my power just went out downstairs!


Soooo, ONE leg of your panel went dead? And they say that's normal? huh????

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Old 09-27-2010, 08:12 PM   #5
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Uh... Half my power just went out downstairs!


The pannel is new, well, about 3 years old. It replaced the old federal pacific box before we moved in.
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Old 09-27-2010, 08:25 PM   #6
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Uh... Half my power just went out downstairs!


Quote:
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Power down and run a screwdriver over every neutral and hot in the panel, then turn it back on.
You'd be surprised how easily those darn screws can come loose!

DM
I always like to qualify this a bit, because many people may not know: tighten every hot terminal EXCEPT the main incoming wires. Those are still hot even with the main breaker off.
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Old 09-27-2010, 08:30 PM   #7
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Uh... Half my power just went out downstairs!


Good point, and one that does not affect me as I power down out on the pole breaker, but not everyone has this advantage.
However, you are correct. Big zap from little screw you may be getting.

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Old 09-27-2010, 08:44 PM   #8
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Uh... Half my power just went out downstairs!


I will see if I can get my sister to get her friend to come out and check the box. Last year we did have xcel come out and check things out and they said we where running a tad hot, our 220 was about 240 I think or something like that. They said it was fine. I wonder if the breaker is bad or perhaps I overloaded a circuit or something. But if xcel said its a common problem (not just for my house) for the area, I don't know what to say. Maybe a bug or something got into the box, we have a crap load of spiders.

I will ask my sister to ask her friend to come out and take a look
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Old 09-27-2010, 08:55 PM   #9
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Uh... Half my power just went out downstairs!


In the mean time, is your panel adequately marked, such that you know which circuits are on each breaker? If so, see if all of the affected circuits are on all odd or all even numbered breakers. If they are, this would at least narrow it down to a bad main breaker or a power company problem. Either way, you will want to have a competent electrician chase it from there, because, as noted, the terminals on the main breaker remain hot, but at least you can tell them where to start.
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Old 09-28-2010, 08:24 AM   #10
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Uh... Half my power just went out downstairs!


Do you have 120/208* volt power instead of 120/240? This may be the case if you live in a mixed residential/commercial building or near commercial buildings. Each of the three phases of power to the commercial building has a different transformer conncted to a different "primary" line up on the pole. Residences may be fed with two of the three phases after stepping down to 120 volts.

If one of the three primary phase lines on the street went dead, then half of the power in homes served by that leg or phase would go out. (branch circuits connected to that leg in the panel would be dead)

The more common residential service has one transformer* for both legs of the 120/240 volt service and just half your service won't go out unless the power company was working on that specific transformer.

*There are a few 120/240 volt residential services with separate transformers for the two legs. This is usually in conjunction with an assymetric neutral (high leg; delta) 3 phase system in the neighborhood.
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Old 09-28-2010, 10:39 AM   #11
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Uh... Half my power just went out downstairs!


I would suspect a loose main wire in your panel. If it was replaced just 3 years ago and the lugs were not torqued, the lug screws may have loosened to the point that you are getting intermittent poor conductivity. Have the electrician come back and clean the wires then re-torque the lugs.
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Old 09-30-2010, 03:43 PM   #12
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Uh... Half my power just went out downstairs!


Just an update
My sisters friend came out and check our box and said everything was kosher. I also failed to mention when xcel called us back they said they where working on some lines some place in addition to this being a common problem

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