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Discussion Starter #1
I did a bad thing by unscrewing a single pole light switch to peek at some wires without turning off the switch at the main panel. The light switch was on the off position, but when I pulled it out something made contact and there was a spark. I did not get shocked. However, this mishap resulted in every other switch in my main panel no longer having power. Of the two wires coming into the main panel from outside only one registers power. What the heck happened and how do I fix this mess? Thank you for all help.

This is a GE main panel.
 

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Maybe you have fuses outside? Sounds like you blew one ...
 

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Sounds like the panel is only getting 110 not 220.
 

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One of your hot wires is dead. You either tripped fuse in the main disconnect or you have a loose connection.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
There are no fuses I know of. It is all in my main panel wihich are witches.

Yes, now only half the box is getting power. I do not know how to fix this.
 

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Start by turning off the main then back on. If that doesn't fix it, try calling the POCO. They may require you to call an electrician first, but the POCO won't charge and they will confirm that you have both legs coming into the meter.
 

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***Warning, the following is dangerous. If you don't know what you are doing, call an electrician. Your life depends on it.***


Do you have a meter? Not the little wand type tester either. Digital or analog type meter with test leads.

Test the incoming lines for power. ***Before the main breaker***
Do you have proper readings there?

If not, call the power company.

If yes, test the load side of the breaker.
Do you have proper reading there?

If no, try turning off the main breaker and turning it back on.
Fix the problem? If no, need a new main breaker.
 

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Not a electrician, but had a similar conversation with my electrician.
I was helping a friend and he had every other breaker had no juice.
My electrician explained to me, that the main breaker yours will probably be a 2 pole 200 amp breaker, could be a 2 pole 100 breaker? Does not matter.
But one of the two poles feeds 1/2 the breakers, while the other feeds the other 1/2.
The way that box was setup, I suspect most are same way.
It is every other breaker that the main feeds.

First step is to reset the main breakers.
If resetting them does not work, you may need to replace the main breaker.
In my case helping a friend, The breaker and the contacts in the panel were fried.
I bought a new main 100 amp breaker and by moving another breaker, gave me a open space to move the main breaker down and not use the fried contacts on the panel.

Hopefully resetting it is all you need.
Not easy replacing main breaker in a live box. He had a double wide mobile home and I could pull the main fuse on the power pole outside, before it went to the panel
inside. You may need to call the power company or a qualified electrician to fix this.
Do not want this to be your last post,
THIS CAN KILL YOU!

But every other breaker it is main breaker causing the issue.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Yes I reset the main breaker a few times and nothing changed. How can this all happen from just shorting out a switch? Yes I have a digital meter. I just used the simple wand to test for any power and only one of the main wires coming in makes it beep. Do I touch the the wires coming in with the red lead and the black to neutral?
 

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Of the two wires coming into the main panel from outside only one registers power.
If these wires go directly to the meter you have done all that you can. If the bad connection is from the meter to your panel you will need to call an electrician. If its on the line side of the meter the electric company needs to be involved. As k_buz mentioned, try calling the electric company first before calling an electrician because once they are inside the meter they will usually fix a simple problem even if it's on the load side.

This happens when there is a poor but working connection somewhere. The high current from your short simply opened it up for good.
 

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You failed to add your location in your profile, may want to take the time to add that.
This same type thing has been happening a lot in the area where the hurracane came through and the lines were down.
 

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Discussion Starter #12
This happens when there is a poor but working connection somewhere. The high current from your short simply opened it up for good.

zappa, please expand on this. After I get this fixed there will probably still be a bad connection. Do you mean somewhere in the walls, at the box? All I did was create a spark when I pulled out a single pole switch for an overhead light. I can see tripping or even breaking the one main switch, but why is every other switch fried?
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Also, I have used my digital meter to tet outlets, but can I put it on the main cables coming into the ciricuit breaker? Is it red meter wire to the cable and the black meter wire to the neutral bus? Will I fry my meter? can I get shocked?
 

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Only going to get shocked if you touch it with your bare hand.
If the meters set at the 500 volt range it's not going to hurt the meter, that's what it's made for.
The most volts there's going to be is 220 volts.
 

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zappa, please expand on this. After I get this fixed there will probably still be a bad connection. Do you mean somewhere in the walls, at the box? All I did was create a spark when I pulled out a single pole switch for an overhead light. I can see tripping or even breaking the one main switch, but why is every other switch fried?
The bad connection is somewhere between the big wires that you were measuring and the POCO transformer. There was a HUGE amount of current for a very short period of time which opened up a failing connection. Every other switch is not fried, they are just missing power from one of the big wires. Your panel spaces alternates between the two wires.
 

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Also, I have used my digital meter to tet outlets, but can I put it on the main cables coming into the ciricuit breaker? Is it red meter wire to the cable and the black meter wire to the neutral bus? Will I fry my meter? can I get shocked?
From everything you have said I don't think you need to check any further. If you want to continue, read joecaption's post and also make sure the meter leads are in the correct holes for voltage, not current. That will light things up real good, in a bad way. :ninja:
 
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