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Major Electrical Problem - half the house keeps turning off

1745 Views 8 Replies 7 Participants Last post by  rrolleston
Ok, first this is NOT my home. Everything I'm posting is relayed from a friend, but I'm trying to figure it out.

--Sparks, Black Smoke and Charred Outlet Has Led to 3 Rooms Having Limited Power.

--Only *half* the house has electricity, and NOT the half powering the furnace, washer/dryer. Ran a long extension cord for the Fridge to an outlet , but furnace isn't so easy.

--5 minutes before electrician arrived, EVERYTHING that had been off........came back on. The lights, the washer started filling back up, the furnace came on, etc.
He did a lot of 'trouble shooting' and by process of elimination, it became obvious that every socket or light that was off, was also on the 220 side. *which explains no dryer, fridge and furnace*>
He called Power company---THEY came out and found nothing amiss on the pole...the poles all the way down the street, outside, my connection box, NOTHING.
The power has STAYED on this entire time.
He is AFRAID that whatever is wrong could be underground....and doesn't know if the power company pasy for this or if the homeowner.

--It stayed on from yesterday around 1:00 til sometime in the middle of the night. Guy came at 8 30 this morning and as he went to take off the meter cover, it CAME BACK ON.
Meter guy came and said it's good.
it has stayed on all day
They are calling it a mystery.

--Well, AS PER USUAL, he went out, 'jiggled' the meter cover and viola' it came back on.
He is convinced it's IN the Meter Itself..."meter socket"? and this expense is the burden of the homeowner, not the power company.
He has "rigged' the box so we have all 110 power, (which means HEAT), but no 220, which means no dryer.


So, my question - why is half the house 220 and the other half 110?
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Think of the meter as a pull out fuse. When installed, it allows both legs (240v) to go to the panel allowing 240v service. If something is amiss withing the meter or the socket you could have intermittent service problems. I'd suspect a loose connection internally in the meter socket or perhaps from the socket to the panel itself. It could be a main breaker problem, it could be a loose connection or even an issue with one of the panel busses. I'd suspect that the problem is right at the socket where the meter plugs in and it's either a worn clip on the meter or a loose connection. Your description is a bit confusing...half the house is not 120 and the other half 240. The house has 240 available at the panel which is actually 2 120v sides, seperated at the panel. Half the house can be on one side and half the house on the other. Where you have 240v appliances both sides are "tapped" to give you 240. When a 240 appliance, such as a water heater is activated, even though one side is dead at the meter it can backfeed and power the home. And I'm not sure I explained that satisfactorily, but I sense that you haven't grasped the concept of home wiring so it's hard to educate insult intended.
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It's not, the power comes into the house as 220 volts, it's split in the panel to make 110 volts on each buss. you have one leg that's not getting power so every other breaker is not working.
Until this is fixed I'd be unplugging everything or risk it being distroyed.

Anything that takes 220 volts should not be working when this happens, water heater, dryer, oven ECT.
Not my house... :laughing:

My house makes sense to me, because I look at it a lot.

I'll direct my friend to this thread and hopefully she can add to it.
The problem is almost surely inside the meter box. It's a loose connection, considering that jiggling the meter causes the power to go off and come on.

If you had portable heaters (120 volt heaters) going, you drew large amounts of power. A loose connection always gets hot and here it loosened up even more or even started to burn and deform.

It's more dangerous to work on the meter box compared with working on a receptacle up in a room. Much larger currents pass through the meter box and can cause large hot sparks if you make a mistake and touch the wrong parts. Think of crossing a multi lane freeway compared with going over to an interchange and crossing an entrance ramp then walking under the highway, and crossing another entrance or exit ramp.

So you would be better off having someone with lots of experience work on this project.
Again, I am not working on this. I am not even in the same state. She is having an electrician do the work. I was wondering what the problem MIGHT be from what she described.

I have worked in my breaker box many times, and have done it carefully and safely. I don't do electrical work for other people.
Most good electricains will have no trouble sorting this problem out,
The symptons you describe will tell him straight away
that your losing one hot leg !
A loose connecttion somewhere.
Power comes into the house on two separate 110v lines. When they go to the breaker they zigzag which breakers they power. So top left breaker is on the same 110v line as the second right, third left, fourth right, etc. You get 220v power by having a double breaker which takes power from each 110v line. So if you have have double breaker in your top right breaker spot and second right breaker spot, it is getting power from both 110v lines, making 220. Sounds like one of the lines is not getting power to the breaker box so every other breaker is dead.
Every row alternates between hot legs. So if you are missing a hot leg every other breaker on both sides will not have power.
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