Update: Power On Several Circuits Comes And Goes All At Once, Never Trips Breaker - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forum


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Old 07-03-2009, 05:27 PM   #1
Michael Homeowner
 
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Update: Power on several circuits comes and goes all at once, never trips breaker


New questions!

I posted this thread earlier, and got a lot of helpful information. Thanks for all of your suggestions, some of them really helped..

I've managed to make it happen less frequently, but i'm not sure exactly why, as I tried several things... and I'm not sure which one worked.
I do want to be done with this, as I sometimes don't have time to drop what I'm doing and dink around when the power goes out.

I did have the POCO come out, more about that in a moment...

I removed the breaker (with the main switched off) from the circuit that seemed to have the most problem (at least that's where we noticed the problem first), and inspected it, no heat marks, corrosion or arcing on the breaker or the lugs underneath.

I also checked the tightess of all the terminals, they all seemed tight, as noted before, there was some corrosion and blackening of the terminals on fat white lead and the bus bar it is connected to. All connections were tight.

I tried turning on the burners on the stove (electric) and they worked fine while the problem was occuring. Dryer (electric), would not start at all.
However...
I later noticed that the oven was NOT working, and a couple of seconds after trying it, everything came back on!

So....because of your (everybody responding to my original thread) suggestions, I am thinking that the problem may be in one leg of the main breaker.

Unfortunately, something I did worked and I can't get it to happen again to continue troubleshooting. It seems that a visual inspection would be in order. There doesn't seem to be a way of shutting down the power completely except for the main breaker, and I am assuming the leads to the main would still be hot.

As noted, I had the power company come out, and check their side, they found no problem. Unfortunately I was not home at the time to ask them nicely to check anything else.

They did talk to daughter-in-law's boyfriend (who was present while they were here), and he left me a note that said they recommended "cleaning the aluminum erosion on the wires behind the electro meter in front of the house, in the very middle...."

He also drew me a picture that shows the meter (<--- remove) and the terminals to clean underneath (I guess).

(future son-in-law works graveyard, and will be calling me later, when he wakes up).

Several people also said that the problem may be in the "meter pan", "meter box", etc. Are all these suggestion referring to the same thing?

Doesn't the power company get upset when you go removing the seal on the meter?

I would like to remove/inspect/replace the main breaker, but there doesn't seem to be any way to have the power off. I have worked with circuits that are hot, including 220 volt circuits in things like dryers and ranges, (usually while troubleshooting) but I am a little nervous about having a hot wire that's as big as my finger hanging loose. (I have confidence in myself, but the risk just seems much higher) I know that if I shut off the main, there will be no power flowing, so I could then remove the meter without it arcing, (which would disconnect the main in my panel) but isnít the seal on the meter installed by the POCO?

If the only way replace the main breaker is to do it while itís hot, I will probably be calling an electrician.

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Old 07-03-2009, 06:24 PM   #2
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Update: Power on several circuits comes and goes all at once, never trips breaker


Ok, power went out again, same old problem, not all circuits, no breakers tripped.

I checked power at the main breaker and found one leg dead on the supply side (coming from the meter).

I turn on the oven and power came back on, now have 220 across the main and 110 between each leg and neutral.

POCO has checked and recommended "cleaning the aluminum erosion on the wires behind the electro meter in front of the house, in the very middle...."

so, what about the seal on the meter? Doesn't that have to come off? Then what happens when I am done?

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Old 07-03-2009, 06:58 PM   #3
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Update: Power on several circuits comes and goes all at once, never trips breaker


DO NOT CUT Off Call an electrician Power co will prob have to come back out and remove meter (here they will fine you 100.00 if you cut )
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Old 07-03-2009, 08:05 PM   #4
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Update: Power on several circuits comes and goes all at once, never trips breaker


You can't really inspect a main breaker unless you remove it.

POCO will pull the meter for you. You can (generally) repair your own stuff.

I just remove and replace the seals but I'm a trained perfeshonal

When you turned on the stove you

A) Didn't have 240, rather backfeed from the working leg, thru the elements back to the bad leg.

B) Caused the electrons to temporarily jump the gap in the burned/bad connection wherever it is.




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Old 07-03-2009, 08:28 PM   #5
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Update: Power on several circuits comes and goes all at once, never trips breaker


I don't think it's backfeeding, as the whole mess works, and I have voltage to both sides when the oven is turned back off.....

Ok, so the meter has to come off. If I call an electrician, can they do this, without the POCO? POCO removed the meter, showed the kid the corrosion and oxidation, told him that was probably the cause of the problem, then buttoned it all back up again.
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Old 07-03-2009, 09:06 PM   #6
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Update: Power on several circuits comes and goes all at once, never trips breaker


You probably own the meter box or meter panel while the power company owns the meter.

You will have to have the POCO shut down the electrical service and remove the meter and then you have your electrician pull a permit and repair or replace the meter box and then have the POCO re-install the meter. Depending on your POCO some electricians may be able to do it all for you with one phone call from you and one appointment.

It is very dangerous to poke around in the meter box with the meter removed but with the power still on. There is no breaker protection other than the fuse or breaker at the pole transformer and several hundred amperes could flow and cause extreme heating and melting and vaporization of parts (literally an explosion) if you accidentally cause a short circuit.
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Old 07-03-2009, 09:50 PM   #7
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Update: Power on several circuits comes and goes all at once, never trips breaker


NEXT time the power fails, go outside and bang your fist on the meter, shaking it up a bit. See if that has any effect.

If so, then your bad connection is in the meter box, and you will need a professional to deal with that.
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Old 07-03-2009, 10:17 PM   #8
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Update: Power on several circuits comes and goes all at once, never trips breaker


how would you suggest finding an electrician?

and no, I don't have a bunch of time to call everybody I know in Seattle to see who they would recommend.

In 2003 an electrician did some work, and the invoice says "installed new 125 amp panel, and meter base and mast. The charge for this, was 5364.55, plus tax. This doesn't seem like it should be failing this soon.... is this normal?

I guess maybe this is why the BBB gave that company an "F" rating. I know we won't be calling THEM back!

this is why I asked the power company to call me when I reported the problem. I COULD have taken time off to be here, or at least talked to them.... I had no idea when they were coming, and if I had known the kids were here, I would have had THEM call me.
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Old 07-03-2009, 10:33 PM   #9
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Update: Power on several circuits comes and goes all at once, never trips breaker


Quote:
Originally Posted by Michael H View Post

In 2003 an electrician did some work, and the invoice says "installed new 125 amp panel, and meter base and mast. The charge for this, was 5364.55, plus tax. This doesn't seem like it should be failing this soon.... is this normal?
No. But before condemning the electrician, it could also be a faulty component.

Then again, it could be a faulty electrician!

At our POCO, if someone (homeowner or electrician) calls and requests that we pull a meter to allow them to work, as long as it is not on a weekend (i.e., overtime) we go unlock the meter, allow the electrician to do his work, and come back to lock it maybe a day to a week later. As long as someone calls us ahead of time, we don't charge for this. But all POCO's are different.
By the way, our meters have stainless steel locks, so cutting one yourself usually ends up ruining the meter can. Then we require the homeowner/electrician to replace the can and bill him for our time as well. Not pretty.

Much better to call the POCO. Theft of service is a 3rd degree felony and you don't want to give them the wrong impression.
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Old 07-03-2009, 11:12 PM   #10
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Update: Power on several circuits comes and goes all at once, never trips breaker


no, I know I don't want to cut the seal off, even though it's just a wire one.

well, at least I am pretty sure that I have narrowed down the problem to being on the supply side of the main. I was concerned that due to the intermittent nature of this problem, an electrician might come out an say, "works fine now".


At this point, I'm at their mercy, because I just don't care anymore.

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