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kcrossley2 08-31-2007 06:14 AM

Weird problem. Need help.
I'm having problems with an entire circuit in my new home. As far as I can tell, here's what on that circuit:

(4) Recessed lights
(1) Ceiling fan
(1) Dinette light
(3) Flood lights
(1) Porch light
(4) Outlets - one outside

Here's the problem. One minute the entire circuit works, the next minute it doesn't. The breaker doesn't trip, and the recessed lights don't stay on long enough to trip the thermal switch in them. At first I suspected that the electrician must have wired everything into a GFCI outlet, but I can't find one. Could this be a faulty breaker? Any thoughts?

RippySkippy 08-31-2007 07:19 AM

Do you do anything to get it to work AFTER it quits?

kcrossley2 08-31-2007 07:33 AM

No. That's what's weird. If the circuit were connected to a GFCI I would have to do a manual reset, but I'm not doing anything. This kinda reminds me of the Nationwide commercial:


Mike Swearingen 08-31-2007 08:08 AM

I am not a pro electrician, just a long-time DIYer.
The outside outlet should be a gfci receptacle. Anything in that same circuit past that outside receptacle, if it is a gfci, also will be gfci protected.
Double check that receptacle.
Good Luck!

HouseHelper 08-31-2007 08:19 AM

Intermittent operation of a circuit is almost always a loose connection. Check the receptacles first, looking for a loose push-in connection, most likely in a receptacle that still works. Do this with the breaker turned off. Rewire any push-in connections to the corresponding screws.

If everything on the circuit is losing power, you may need to check the connection at the breaker and the connection of the neutral wire, but this will require working inside the panel.

Mike Swearingen 08-31-2007 08:25 AM

Just FYI if you're not sure, the black hot goes on the brass screw, the white neutral goes on the silver colored screw and the bare ground goes on the green screw on the receptacle.

KUIPORNG 08-31-2007 10:27 AM

You need to have a circuit diagram.... which device goes first,second,third...etc. hopefully , the electrician who did it can provide you, otherwise, you need to guess/draw it yourself... once you got that... you can trace the problem when the problem occurs... use a voltmeter...etc... like above, it is likely be a bad connection, you need to locate that and tighten things up. once that's done ... you are good... I had that problem before and as I am the installer so I have all my circuits layout drawn and stick besides the panel for future references

michaelpwalton1 09-22-2007 11:14 PM

You can try this method. Take a radio, tune it to a station and turn the volume way up. Now unplug the radio and plug it into an outlet that is not working. Now take another appliance such as a lamp etc, and start plugging it into different outlets and wiggle the plug around while plugged in. If you find the outlet with a loose connection, the radio will come on. Then you have fond the culprit. This also helps while you are not in the room with the outlets not working. The problem is definitely a loose connection or splice that heats up and opens under load. When it cools off, the circuit remakes connection.

Odds are the problem will be in an outlet that is presently working (although not always). Look for an outlet that has had a heavy load on it, such as a space heater, iron etc. The outlet may even be in a different room completely (another reason for the radio).

Let us know how you make out and what you find.

kcrossley2 09-23-2007 07:41 PM

Thanks for all the suggestions.

I found out that some of my neighbors were experiencing the same problem. I was also told by the builder's project manager that the power company was having some type of electrical issue in the area and I could have lost one of my phases in the home. Is this possible?

Does anyone have any good links on what electrical phases are and why they're required?

joed 09-23-2007 08:22 PM

Are all of these devices on the same circuit? If it was the power company you would have lost more than one circuit. If you are only losing one circuit from your panel then you have a loose connection somewhere on the circuit.
It is not a GFCI tripping. They do not reset themselves.

RippySkippy 09-24-2007 06:56 AM


Originally Posted by kcrossley2 (Post 64418)
...I was also told by the builder's project manager that the power company was having some type of electrical issue in the area and I could have lost one of my phases in the home. Is this possible?

Anything is possible...I lost a leg from the PC, and the other was running at a variable rate from 30 to 120 amps, man that does a number on anything under load.

Andy in ATL 09-24-2007 04:11 PM

If your neighbors are experiencing the same problem, I'd be on the phone with the power company(POCO) quick. The POCO brings two "phases" into your house. They also bring a grounded wire(neutral). Each "phase" is 120V and since thay are 180deg. apart when combined they give you 240V for loads such as you dryer, AC, etc. If this were the case you would infact be losing more circuits, BUT you may not notice it. I know this seems unlikely, but I've seen it happen many times before. The problem comes with how quickly the POCO responds. How often does this happen? Are the utilities overhead or underground? Is it all your neighbors(we can have 1000+ homes here in Atlanta in one new neighborhood)or just a few? I'd goto the top at the POCO until this is resolved. That being said I'd rather lose a "phase" than a neutral anyday!!!:no: That's a whole 'nother post on what happens when the POCO loses the neutral.

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