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When Electrical Power is Lost to Half the Circuits


By Dave Rongey - Summary:

Part of my house power is out. I checked outlets and no power was found. I went to the breaker box and tested power coming out of each breaker and found that every other one had power…


Home Electrical Power Failures

Electrical Question: Part of my house power is out. I checked outlets and no power was found. I went to the breaker box and tested power coming out of each breaker and found that every other one had power and and every other one didn’t have power. This included testing the 4 breaker main switches, which 2 of the 4 had power and 2 didn’t. So I removed them from the panel and ohm tested them. 2 seemed to work properly( open then switch to closed) 2 showed very little chance or difference which ever position the switch was in. So I switched the wires from one to the other and different power worked. So it seems the breakers are bad. However this seems very strange to me that the would go bad. The whole panel and breakers are only 8 yrs old. Any thoughts or further ideas would be great.

This electrical question came from: Travis, from Orange, California
See more about Home Wiring for California

Additional Comments: Great site and it did help.

Dave The Electrician’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical question Travis

Electrical Panel and Circuit Testing

  • There are a few conditions that may cause half of the power to not work in a home. Some brands of electrical panels are prone to having failures especially in the summer time when electrical loads are high which causes problem due to expansion and contraction with electrical parts which could lead to a deteriorated connection, which then causes arcing, which can then lead to damaged electrical components and the loss of electrical power to part or all of the electrical service.
  • Main circuit breakers may trip into the OFF position, and sometimes only half of the 240 volt power will trip OFF while the other phase of power remains in the ON position. This can be caused by circuit over load or other circuit problems.
  • Main circuit breakers may fail as well causing the same condition where half of the power is lost while half remains ON.
  • Before considering replacing circuit breakers it is best to have the condition thoroughly tested by a qualified licenses electrical contractor as it is not recommended that a homeowner perform work in an electrical panel.

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