No power in half the house

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unclescrooge
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No power in half the house

Post by unclescrooge » Sun Oct 21, 2018 5:41 am

Came home this evening and saw the thermostat was showing an error. Seems like there is no power going to the AC unit. I called the HVAC company and let a message but since it's Saturday at 8pm I don't expect any responses.

Then I'm watching Netflix for half an hour and the internet goes out. I go downstairs to reboot the modem and I realize the downstairs AC also has no power, and none of the lights work downstairs either.
I turn on the patio lights, and they came on, but they are flickering faintly.

Then I go around the house and realize the microwave/wall oven unit is showing an error and the washer/dryers don't work either. The other lights in the house work fine.

I flipped the breakers individually but it didn't change anything.

What's going on? I've lived in SoCal for 20 years and we rarely lose power.

I left a message for the power company and at 1 am some maintenance guys showed up on the street. They were there for an hour before leaving, but nothing has changed.

Any ideas on what's happening?

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:03 am

Possible you have an issue in your breaker box. There are multiple "backbone" buss bars in the box, each fed by one phase coming in from the power pole.. Each single-circuit 110v breaker taps onto one of the bars, higher-capacity circuits such as your dryer and HVAC units tap across two to get 208v. If something has happened to one of the legs in the box, it could take out multiple outlets in the house.

Get an electrician in. It will be trivial for him to check the box to make sure that all legs coming into the box have juice, and to figure out which legs coming out of the box are dead.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

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Bengineer
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by Bengineer » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:07 am

I think you've lost one leg of your 240v power coming to the house. Likely all of your 240v circuits and about half your 120v circuits are affected. One possibility is that the utility power transformer feeding your house is going bad.

jpohio
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by jpohio » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:35 am

Exact same thing happened to me. Had to have electrician replace one of two main breakers on outside of house.

motorcyclesarecool
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by motorcyclesarecool » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:50 am

We had same issue a year ago. We had lost a phase or a “hot leg”. Buried cable between the transformer and our condominium had to be replaced. We lost a fridge full of food and I put my family up at the Hampton Inn overnight on points.

Electric code at the time of construction allowed cable to be buried in the ground, despite bitter cold winters and frost heaves in early spring. Even though cable was between the transformer and the meter, the HOA, not the electric company, was responsible to replace it. HOA wisely decided to bury conduit while replacing the cable.
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jharkin
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by jharkin » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:57 am

+1 to the above, sounds like you either lost one of the hot legs from the pole ( technically it’s not a “phase,” residential service is center tapped single phase) If you can find the effected breakers and it’s every other one working down each column in the panel that is strong evidence.

Agree with the recommendation to get an electrician in pronto. He should check the main breakers, bus bar connections, meter box connections, and also the neutral connections and grounding rods for good measure.

If all that is good, then they move on to checking the weather head connections (if it’s an aerial feed) and if that’s good then it’s time to call the power company.

FWIW I used to have a low leg and eventually we got the power comapny involved. Turned out to be a bad transformer on the pole.

FlyingMoose
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by FlyingMoose » Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:58 am

Did you talk to the electric company guy when he was there? He could have said whether the problem was on your end or his.

Note to the poster above who mentioned 208V, that would be across phases on a 3-phase system which is unlikely in a regular house. A house will have single phase in 2 wires that are out of phase, giving 240V.

Ping Pong
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by Ping Pong » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:25 am

I’ve had this happen before. In our case is was one of the two main fuses near the power entrance that had blown. Circuit breakers are designed to stop both sides of the 240v when they trip. Fuses don’t have that feature.

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oldcomputerguy
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by oldcomputerguy » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:34 am

FlyingMoose wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:58 am
Did you talk to the electric company guy when he was there? He could have said whether the problem was on your end or his.

Note to the poster above who mentioned 208V, that would be across phases on a 3-phase system which is unlikely in a regular house. A house will have single phase in 2 wires that are out of phase, giving 240V.
Yeah, that was me, sorry. I guess I spent too much time in the workplace dealing with 208 three-phase systems. You’re right, of course, it’s 240v coming into the house, split into two opposing 120v phases.
It’s taken me a lot of years, but I’ve come around to this: If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. And if you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.

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Sandtrap
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by Sandtrap » Sun Oct 21, 2018 8:43 am

1 reset main house breaker. Flip off then on again. If no improvement........then

2. Call electrician.

Hockey10
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by Hockey10 » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:01 pm

We once had a similar problem, but it was intermittent - somedays there were no problems while on others, power would go out in about 1/3 of the house, then come back on as mysteriously as it went out. I had an electrician install a new breaker box. A few days later, the problem came back.

This time I called the electric company. They came out and determined that where the wire from the telephone pole connects to the house had an issue. I don't remember the technical term, but he replaced something on the side of the house where the wire comes in from the pole and the problem was solved.

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unclescrooge
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by unclescrooge » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:02 pm

Bengineer wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 6:07 am
I think you've lost one leg of your 240v power coming to the house. Likely all of your 240v circuits and about half your 120v circuits are affected. One possibility is that the utility power transformer feeding your house is going bad.
This is mostly likely what happened.

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unclescrooge
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by unclescrooge » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:03 pm

Thanks everyone for your informative responses.

Power has been restored!

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mrc
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by mrc » Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:26 pm

What was the cause?!
If it’s not long term it’s small talk

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unclescrooge
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by unclescrooge » Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:37 pm

mrc wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:26 pm
What was the cause?!
Based on a prior poster's response, I think the neighborhood transformer blew out.

I called the power company and they said it was equipment failure. There were three trucks out here between 1 am and 10 am.

I'm glad it was resolved quickly and without involving an electrician, which are hard to get on short notice and especially on a Sunday.

dknightd
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by dknightd » Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:56 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:37 pm
mrc wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:26 pm
What was the cause?!
Based on a prior poster's response, I think the neighborhood transformer blew out.

I called the power company and they said it was equipment failure. There were three trucks out here between 1 am and 10 am.

I'm glad it was resolved quickly and without involving an electrician, which are hard to get on short notice and especially on a Sunday.
Be glad there was not fire!

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mrc
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by mrc » Sun Oct 21, 2018 3:59 pm

unclescrooge wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 2:37 pm
mrc wrote:
Sun Oct 21, 2018 12:26 pm
What was the cause?!
Based on a prior poster's response, I think the neighborhood transformer blew out.

I called the power company and they said it was equipment failure. There were three trucks out here between 1 am and 10 am.

I'm glad it was resolved quickly and without involving an electrician, which are hard to get on short notice and especially on a Sunday.
Fantastic!
If it’s not long term it’s small talk

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dratkinson
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Re: No power in half the house

Post by dratkinson » Sun Oct 21, 2018 7:21 pm

Glad OP got problem fixed. Guessing multiple local residents called about same problem so power company suspected common equipment fault.



Had an intermittent power problem after moving in. Half the house would temporarily lose power, and then be restored---digital clocks flashing "12:00", UPS alarm light flashing,.... Half didn't lose power. Thought it might be a waste of time to call an electrician to diagnose a problem that did not currently exist.

The house had copper interior wiring, but aluminum wire between meter and first breaker panel. Had heard that aluminum wire can sometimes cause problems.

Problem went away after I had a manual whole house generator transfer switch installed between meter and first breaker panel. During the work...
--Replaced aluminum wire between meter and first panel with copper.
--Electric utility installed new (digital) meter and cut, reattached, sealed connection of their overhead wire at weather head. I noticed the utility wire is aluminum from transformer to meter.

So, one of those two changes fixed my intermittent problem.
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