Thread Number: 81361  /  Tag: Other Home Products or Autos
The Electricity’s Out Again—Certain Outlets, Certain Rooms!
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Post# 1053902   12/11/2019 at 03:19 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

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Yes, what happened months ago, in our master bathroom, and my bedroom... And the light fixtures, wall for the former, ceiling for the latter, don’t go on, either...

Only instead of running another extension cord for my stereo, I just decided to contend with “what’s just another power failure” being glad everything else works in the house that’s electrical, like the dishwasher and especially the fridge...

Must not be anyone else with this problem, as the electric company seems slow in getting this sort of thing repaired...

— Dave

Post# 1053930 , Reply# 1   12/11/2019 at 08:23 by brainardcooper (Columbia, SC)        

Sounds like Squirrels have chewed through one of the lines from the pole to the house. I had a similar issue a few years ago where power in half he house went out. The power company (SCG&E) came out and replaced the line at no charge! Good luck!

Post# 1053933 , Reply# 2   12/11/2019 at 08:32 by reactor (Tennessee)        

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Maybe I am misconstruing your problem. However, if you have select circuits in your house that are not functioning, that has nothing to do with the "electric company."

Your problem is within you home's wiring. Your electric company's responsibility is to deliver power to your meter, after exiting the meter becomes your responsibility. From the meter it goes to your distribution (breaker or fuse) panel box. Then it goes to each individual circuit within the house.

Always check your breakers/fuses first. If you have breakers and can't see which one is tripped, go down and cycle each breaker by hand, eventually you will reset the tripped one.

Other causes, but less easy to find:

A breaker can go bad. It is not common but can happen. The screw holding down the hot line on a given breaker could be loose as well.

A loose connection somewhere within the circuit can cause an outage. My sister/brother-in-law moved into an older house where the previous owner had changed out an outletm but failed to tighten the contact screws that held the wiring down. Whenever anyone walked through the dinning room, the vibrations made the dinning room light and the dishwasher in the kitchen go on and off. They were both on the same circuit downstream of the outlet with the loose contact screws. (A doubly bad situation as code require a dishwasher to be on a separate circuit and the owner had just added it to a regular household lighting/outlet circuit.)

If you are not familiar with working with electrical components then don't go messing around in your outlets or panel box. Electricity can be unforgiving, and you could get shocked badly or even encounter a lethal situation resulting in electrocution.

I would recommend you hire someone qualified to check your individual circuits and repair the offending one. Please do it soon as a loose electrical connection can possibly arc and cause a fire.

Post# 1053934 , Reply# 3   12/11/2019 at 08:39 by reactor (Tennessee)        

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I just read Brainard's post. He did mention one scenario that could cause select circuits to go out, and yet occur before your meter, and be the power companies responsibility.

You have two two 120 volt "legs" that come in from the power company. If one is broken (open) everything on that leg will be out in your house. If this is the case NO 240 volt appliance in your home will work, as all require both 120v legs to combine to give yo 240 volts.

So if that scenario is true you will have no hot water, your dryer will not heat, your burners and oven will not function, etc.

If your 240 volt appliances all work, then the problem is not outside, but as stated in my previous posting, within your home's wiring.

Post# 1053938 , Reply# 4   12/11/2019 at 09:35 by ea56 (Cotati, Calif.)        

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If you have a GFI circuit switch on one of your outlets, usually they are in a bathroom, see if the button needs to be reset. If so, push it in and then try the the switches that weren’t working, if the lights go on, then you’ve found your problem.

The outlet in our backyard, light over the kitchen sink, DW, and front porch light are all connected to a GFI circuit. If any of these lights/outlets fail to function then I know the GFI has tripped and needs to be reset. I hope that this solves your problem.


Post# 1053943 , Reply# 5   12/11/2019 at 09:51 by reactor (Tennessee)        

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As Eddie said it COULD be GFCI, but you indicated it was your bedroom. Usually a GFCI has other bathrooms, outdoor receptacles and/or kitchen receptacles downstream. Circuits that require GFCI protection.

However, with the way people wire things nowdays, it could be your bedroom lights are downstream of the GFCI in your bath. Eddie is right, try it. Always start with the simplest scenarios then work up!

Post# 1053955 , Reply# 6   12/11/2019 at 11:30 by bradfordwhite (space coast)        

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As was said, the power company is only concerned about the the wires up to your house or into the meter socket.  Any thing after that you need to fix yourself or hire someone to.


Though it could be a GFI, because it's in a living room where GFI's usually are not used, it sounds like something other. 



I had a situation similar to what your describing and it was the result of one simple wire that come loose off of an outlet. That one wire caused a number of other outlets and fixtures to not work.  The trick was to find which one was loose. 


Doing a complete map of all the electrical devices in your home helps to pinpoint these type problems.

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Post# 1053964 , Reply# 7   12/11/2019 at 13:11 by vacerator (Macomb, Michigan)        

before calling in an electrician, check the most obvious and simple problem first. A with a car that won't crank over, it's usually the battery.
Wire connections on the wal recepticles and or switches can loosen with time anbd temperature fluctuations. Because house wiring is multiplexed with more than one room on a circuit, one loose connection can cause outlets other than the one to be dead. I've had it happen even in summer.

Post# 1053967 , Reply# 8   12/11/2019 at 13:19 by Yogitunes (New Jersey)        

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I am going to side with Barry as a screw loose....

make sure the bolts in your bus neck are tight as well....this too can knock out a whole side...

but no matter what the cause, Your SCREWED!

Post# 1053974 , Reply# 9   12/11/2019 at 16:05 by LowEfficiency (Iowa)        

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>> Always check your breakers/fuses first. If you have breakers and can't see which one is tripped, go
>> down and cycle each breaker by hand, eventually you will reset the tripped one.

And of course, if you find a breaker that has tripped without indicating, that is a rather significant failure of the breaker, and it should be replaced. (And toggled to off in the meantime while waiting for the new breaker to be installed, as the safety and functionality of that breaker is now suspect.)

>> You have two two 120 volt "legs" that come in from the power company. If one is broken (open) everything
>> on that leg will be out in your house. If this is the case NO 240 volt appliance in your home will work, as all
>> require both 120v legs to combine to give yo 240 volts. So if that scenario is true you will have no hot
>> water, your dryer will not heat, your burners and oven will not function, etc.

That's only conditionally true, depending on the appliance. Many 240V appliances in the USA use the two 120V legs independently, so you may only see partial impacts (or no impact at all) from the loss of one leg, depending on how you are using the appliance. For example, my combination wall oven is a 240V appliance - but the microwave component is wired from just one of the 120V legs, as is the control panel, interior lights, etc, from the oven portion. So I could loose power from one phase, and the oven would "seem" fine or the microwave work as normal. Likewise, many dryers use 240V for the heating element, but 120V for the motor, timer, etc. So it may seem like the dryer is operating just fine (just not noticing that it isn't heating)... or it may even be that you selected an air-fluff cycle, and it genuinely *is* operating just fine with half of its power circuit missing.

Post# 1053977 , Reply# 10   12/11/2019 at 16:14 by LowEfficiency (Iowa)        

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>> As Eddie said it COULD be GFCI, but you indicated it was your bedroom. Usually a GFCI has other bathrooms,
>> outdoor receptacles and/or kitchen receptacles downstream. Circuits that require GFCI protection.

That's actually not too unusual for a bedroom anymore, at least on newer houses.

The National Electric Code has required arc-fault protection for bedroom receptacles in new construction since 1999, before requiring that for any other room of the house. And a few years later they made it so that bedroom lighting also had to be arc-fault protected. If I remember correctly, the reasoning was that they wanted arc-fault protection everywhere, but had to start somewhere, and bedrooms were the arbitrary starting point they picked.

Now in terms of arc-fault vs ground-fault protection, the codes do still require ground-fault protection in bathrooms, kitchens, laundry areas, etc, even though whole-house arc-fault protection is now mandatory. The result is that the "dual-function" CAFCI+GFCI breakers in some cases are now cheaper than arc-fault breakers due to supply and demand, and for electricians doing repairs or new installs, having a big box of dual-function breakers that work for everything is a lot simpler than separately stocking arc-fault and arc+ground fault breakers and selectively using them.

So it wouldn't be too surprising to find a bedroom on a ground-fault protected circuit nowadays.

Post# 1054014 , Reply# 11   12/11/2019 at 21:17 by reactor (Tennessee)        
tripping/240v appliances

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Some brands of breakers are difficult to determine if tripped. Some have indicators, some do not, and some have barely perceptible or non-perceptible movement of the lever. I have a Westinghouse (pre-Bryant ) breaker panel box in my current home where I have to cycle the breakers anytime I have a trip because that cannot be determined visually. That does not necessarily mean the breakers are bad.

I stand by my statement that 240 volt appliances will not function on one 120v leg. If you go back and read my statement you see that it says, "your dryer will not heat." Yes, the motor may rotate the drum, dependent on which leg is still energized. Whether the drum rotates or not, a dryer that is not heating is not functioning.

If someone thinks a dryer is not heating because they put it on "fluff," they would set the control to a heated cycle and see that indeed the dryer is not working.

Likewise, it was stated that a "burner" and "oven" would not work on one 120 volt let.....and they will not. Yes, the light in the oven could come on (once again dependent of which leg is supplying current), but that does not mean the oven is working. Heat indicates a working oven, and that will not happen with one 120 leg being non-functional.

Yes, if you re-read my statement, it said the bedroom COULD be on a GFCI circuit. However, it is not the norm. Most people are not living in a "new" home and not every "new" home has the bedroom on a GFCI protected circuit.

Post# 1054081 , Reply# 12   12/12/2019 at 12:48 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

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Well, yes, I'd gone to the breaker box, and not one switch was tripped, and although the panels are well-marked, I couldn't bear with resetting clocks, just randomly flipping switches, as that idea did nothing to remedy thins before...

I would be willing to have someone crawl into the ceiling to inspect the wiring there in that part (well, THIS part) of the house as often I find my CD player turned off, whereas it is left programmed to play a preset disc in a perscrinbed order, but something randomly cuts the outlet it's plugged into off, but fortunately not when my stereo and it are playing on...

The only GFI in the area is in the bathroom, as I gingerly pressed the reset for it, being that ferarful of your aforementioned shock or electrocution, as I view the tampering of it and the one in the kitchen to be unforgiving, no matter how much UL backs such equipment, I dislike the even minute need to have to touch those tiny buttons in between each outlet or do more than plug in and unplug electrical appliances/units/equipment....

Again, in the following evening, at 9:00 PM, to be exact, the electricity here/there came back on, I come home from work after midnight to find the porch light and a lamp I left on in my room to go on when our power came back, and everything else (even getting caught up in mostly to nearly all of my listening done) all on...

-- Dave

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Post# 1054083 , Reply# 13   12/12/2019 at 13:01 by ea56 (Cotati, Calif.)        

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So what happened after you pressed the GFI reset button? Did your lights come back on? If so, then the GFI being tripped was the reason for the outage. BTW, as long as your hands aren’t wet, touching the GFI reset button won’t give you a shock.

Now, if your lights just mysteriously came back on at 9 pm with no apparent reason, then sounds like you’ve got a loose wire connection somewhere, and this would worry me.


Post# 1054084 , Reply# 14   12/12/2019 at 13:04 by neptunebob (Pittsburgh, PA)        
Was your house built in a hurry?

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If so, the electricians at the time may not have screwed the wires to the outlets and switches, they may have used the "stab" connections which will work themselves loose. That happened to my mothers house, they must have been in a hurry back in 1972 and used stab connections and over the decades, she has had parts of the house not have electricity. I am handy and know enough to solve the problem, that is, cut off the stab connections and make correct screw connections (turn the power off first and you might as well replace the outlet and switch too) or have an electrician you hire do this and might as well have him do the whole house.

To find out if the original builder was short of time, turn off power to a circuit or the whole house and unscrew out one of the outlets. If the wire is not around the side screw of the outlet and just is "stabbed" in to the back, you have a stab connection that is probably the issue.

Post# 1054088 , Reply# 15   12/12/2019 at 13:12 by ea56 (Cotati, Calif.)        

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the possibility of “stab” connections is a very good suggestion for the reason Dave’s power is going out randomly in the bedroom. I would have never thought if this. Thankfully, when our home was built in 1980 I guess they weren’t in an all fired hurry and the connections for the outlets and switches were all made using the terminal screws.


Post# 1054100 , Reply# 16   12/12/2019 at 14:31 by bradfordwhite (space coast)        

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It could be possessed with a demon.

Post# 1054120 , Reply# 17   12/12/2019 at 17:01 by DADoES (TX, U.S. of A.)        

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You're telling someone who's leery to press a reset button on a GFI outlet to remove a coverplate and examine the wires ... ?

Post# 1054154 , Reply# 18   12/12/2019 at 22:15 by reactor (Tennessee)        
personal safety

reactor's profile picture
DaveAMKrayoGuy, you know pretty much which outlets/lights are on the defective circuit. I would recommend you make sure they are off and/or unplugged. You want to get all loads off the circuit, so if there is a loose connection you will not have a load on it to induce an arc. Keep them off until you get a professional over to your house to diagnose and repair your problem.

You don't want an arc to occur and create a potentially lethal situation, such as a fire. Most deaths from electrically induced fires occur at night while the occupants are sleeping, so please use great caution.

As you have little background in residential wiring it is best (as in safer) that you do not attempt something you are uncomfortable with, and get a professional..

As you may not be aware of every item on that circuit, even better than just turning items off and unplugging would be to go down your row(s) of breakers systematically in your panel box and cycle (turn off then on) each one to see which controls the bad circuit and then keep that breaker off. However, you can only do this while you have current in the circuit and see which breaker turns off a light or other device on that circuit.

I know you said you don't want to switch breakers off and on because you "don't want to reset your clocks." However, you are going to have to make a value judgement on which is more important to you, resetting some clocks or preventing a potentially dangerous situation that could cause great harm.

Wishing you well.

-- Barry

Post# 1054169 , Reply# 19   12/13/2019 at 07:56 by retro-man (nashua,nh - boston,ma)        

Get an electrician in pronto! If your power is being interrupted only on certain circuits and then it comes back on later your having a grounding out issue. I had this problem in an old house and what was found that at one point I had a squirrel in my attic that chewed through the wire insulation, leaving all three wires exposed in a 2 inch space. When a load was placed on the circuit the wires would heat up and bend a little and make contact. That would power down the circuit. After a while when the wires cooled down they would break the contact and the circuit would be active. No load and everything was fine. What I thought was interesting that never once did it blow a circuit breaker. Quite the fire hazard. The fiberglass insulation was where the wire was laying so that prevented a fire. Had to have that line replace and all was well. Mice, rats squirrels can do a lot of hidden damage. So back to my original statement, get a qualified electrician in and have him go through your attic now, not later. You and your families life are in jeopardy right now. Make sure your smoke detectors are working. This is not a joke my friend or a wait and see if something else happens, this is your home and family and no screwing around. Do it today.


Post# 1055565 , Reply# 20   12/25/2019 at 22:04 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

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Well, it took a 10-year-old to somehow discover this problem isn't as big or unsolvable, as she pointed out something simple and obvious, so no extreme measures of needing to go up in our ceiling needed as initially thought...

Just a press on this plug, until maybe the plate can be removed and its wiring inspected, so it doesn't just go beyond a small short:

-- Dave

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Post# 1055657 , Reply# 21   12/26/2019 at 19:05 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Partial Power Outage

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If pressing in on the pictured non-GFI outlet restored power you have a loose or burned connection in that outlet, It needs to be FIXED NOW, This is a loose or burned connection, not a short although it could turn into a short, in any case you are playing with FIRE, turn OFF that circuit until it can be looked at and fixed.


John L.

Post# 1055663 , Reply# 22   12/26/2019 at 20:06 by Ultramatic (New York City)        

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I know this sounds like a wild suggestion, but why not call a licensed electrician? Doing the conga is just inviting disaster.

Post# 1055699 , Reply# 23   12/27/2019 at 08:12 by Iej (Ireland)        

Definitely, definitely call an electrical contractor. It's not a fault you are going to resolve yourself and there's a fire hazard and also a possible shock risk, if for example, it's a grounding / neutral fault.

Most likely it's not going to be a huge deal to fix, but you need to get an EC in. They'll be able to identify what the issue is very quickly. Definitely don't just put up with an intermittent fault as that's what will turn into a house fire.

Not only that, but from an insurance point of view, you're aware there's a fault so you should get it resolved. Leaving a known faulty circuit live could be seen as negligent.

Isolate the circuit involved by throwing the breaker and call an electrical contractor.

Post# 1055716 , Reply# 24   12/27/2019 at 12:56 by volsboy1 (East Tenn Smoky mountains )        

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That happened to my parents house and it was a blown leg. They had to have the wiring service redone totally redone.

Post# 1055726 , Reply# 25   12/27/2019 at 15:43 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

Wow, come on guys. The simple explanation is a wire worked it's way off the connection, either push in or screw.  It's just a matter of turning off the circuit and replacing the $.50 outlet. If that does not fix it then call in a pro.

Post# 1055796 , Reply# 26   12/28/2019 at 12:19 by Iej (Ireland)        

My reading of it is that multiple circuits are off and this has happened before and the OP isn't all that familiar with wiring systems or fault finding.

So in that case, I wouldn't recommend anything other than calling an electrician.

Not everyone is used to doing DIY electrical work and this to me sounds like it could be any number of things ranging, all of which are easy fixes but some are beyond what any DIY work should be involved in.

If there's a problem with one of the legs of the supply or any issue in the distribution panel / fuse board - thats very definitely electrical contractor only territory.

Also you can get issues with broken neutrals that can be quite hard to trace without proper test equipment and familiarity with wiring practices.

Got safety's sake please an electrician!

Post# 1055854 , Reply# 27   12/29/2019 at 02:27 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

If pushing on the outlet "solves" the problem - at least temporarily, it really sounds like a simple loose wire.  I questions if multiple circuits are involved as it' pretty common for one circuit to run through any number of rooms making it seem like multiple circuits are involved.


One way or another this needs to be resolved ASAP.

Post# 1055862 , Reply# 28   12/29/2019 at 08:06 by reactor (Tennessee)        

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I told Dave AMKray.. to call an electrician and then six people have told him the exact same thing afterward like they were giving new knowledge to him, ha.

After discovery an outlet is sensitive to motion, most of us would have cut the power, removed the outlet, looked for burn marks and loose connections. We would have then either tightened the connection and/or replaced the outlet if it were charred.

DAveAMkray.. does not seem to have this ability as Glenn so appropriately put it, "He is leery to even push the reset button on a GFCI."

I am not sure DaveAMK has the ability to safely remove an outlet and replace it. He may cut power to the wrong breaker and shock or injure himself. He could reverse the hot and neutral, not retighten connections properly, ground something out.

I am not denigrating you DaveAMkray..., many people are not knowledgeable of electricity. But you have allowed this problem to continue despite multiple repetitions of the exact same advice from us on what to do.

You are playing with fire (possibly literally), and you do not have any electrical knowledge or ability. That leaves you with no option but to get a qualified person their to affect a repair.

You have been warned and if you continue to sit on your rear end and watch an intermittent circuit go on and off then we are not responsibly for your safety and you deserve exactly what you get.

I don't mean to be unkind, but nothing seems to phase you into action. I would rather have you mad at me for being blunt than to have you be dead or injured.

Post# 1055869 , Reply# 29   12/29/2019 at 09:41 by Iej (Ireland)        

A fault like that will often start with harmless low level arcing and poor contact heating. That will, over time, damage the contact surfaces and the wire at the loose connection and then the arcing gets worse - this will typically repeat until it eventually burns out either causing damage to the fittings and a run of the fixed wiring, necessitating a lot more work, or may even cause a house fire.

I would also caution that most American homes are wooden structures, so it's vital that you get this resolved. This isn't a minor hazard. It's a significant fire risk. You don't want red hot metal in your walls!

Until you do get it revolved, identify which breaker controls that circuit and turn it off. Do not continue to use this circuit as the risk increases with every flicker and fizzle.

Post# 1056849 , Reply# 30   1/8/2020 at 09:06 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

daveamkrayoguy's profile picture
Well, I see the further down we go, the more and the more we discuss, the more serious things get, and I needed a lot of foresight to outsmart and head off...

Here is the van of a qualified electrician on duty now to fix that small, simple fault in that outlet:

But as for a good shot of this individual at work, fixing the faulty plug, I think what I got would only be suitable for a place like Dirty Laundry, if even with a lot of trepidation, put even there...

— Dave

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Post# 1056852 , Reply# 31   1/8/2020 at 09:23 by Ultramatic (New York City)        

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I'm just shocked (groan) that this has gone on so long. Despite so many telling you to get a professional. And no, telling someone to get an electrician is not copyrighted.  In this case, I think it was repetition that worked. I'm glad this has been resolved and hopefully next time something goes wrong that can be potentially fatal, it will be dealt with swiftly and safely.

Post# 1056853 , Reply# 32   1/8/2020 at 09:29 by DaveAMKrayoGuy (Oak Park, MI)        

daveamkrayoguy's profile picture
Yes, fellas, all was well-intended, and please excuse my whatever choice of words, I think this has gotten resolved once and for all...

We safely dismissed it as that one outlet next to our daughter’s bed, he went into and corrected that inherent problem which some seemingly hard use, it must have got, whereas I think everything else is safely operational, and on top of that, we weren’t charged even a nickel...

— Dave

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