Partial Power Outage in My Home

Posted on: November 22nd, 2011 by Glen 15 Comments

Damaged Meter Base

No power in half of the house is regular service call request. Two of the more common causes includes, the a failure on the electric power companys' line to your property or a breaker malfunction.

Okay here is a quick first lesson in electricity. The average home has a 120/240 volt main electric service. There are 3 wires from the electric power company to your home, 2 live wires and 1 neutral wire. The 2 live wires we will name phase "A" and Phase "B". Phase "A" to the neutral is 120 volts. Phase "B" to the neutral is 120 volts also. The two 120 volt wires powers' all your general lights and receptacles around the house. So if one phase wire stops working half of the house will have no power and the electrician will call it “losing a phase”.

Lesson 2 is about 240 volt part of your electrical system. Phase "A" to Phase "B" is 240 volts. The 240 volts system normally powers things such as your electric stove, hot water heater, clothes dyer, air conditioner and furnace. So if you “lose a phase” these appliances will not work properly since they may only have 120 volts being supplied to them.

You have about a 50/50 shot between calling the power company or an electrician regarding your power outage. If it’s the power company wire problem they may fix it for free. If it’s not a utility company issue then you will have to call the electrician. Causes for this may include a faulty main breaker or a loose connection in the meter can, main breaker, main electric buss or a bad feeder wire. Loose connections resulting in overheated parts will require replacement of the faulty part(s), wire(s) or the entire electric box itself. Unfortunately, all these repairs are expensive.

Sometime a single circuit breaker or fuse being off will be mistaken for half the power is out. So check your main electric box for a tripped breaker of blown fuse first.  I don't like paying an electrician $200 or more, just to reset a circuit breaker.

Contact your local electrical contractor or electrician for more information.

15 Responses

  1. Howard

    August 30, 2015

    I am experiencing this now. Some of the 120v boxes and lights work while others do not. The oulets that work go out for a few minutes to a few dozen minutes and go back on. Problem repeats several times per day. Breakers are not reset. No humm near breakers. Ideas?

    Reply
    • Glen

      August 30, 2015

      Intermittent problems are normally a loose wire on one of the outlets causes the other ones not to work

      Reply
  2. John Faulkner

    October 28, 2015

    My house has two breaker boxes (one on each side. It’s the same thing on both sides, lights in the back of the house work – both sides – and some of the wall sockets intermittently scattered around the houose have power. Window unit a/c has no power while the TV does – both same room.All breakers flipped ON. How is this possible? I notified the power company.

    Reply
    • Glen

      October 28, 2015

      I would guess you are missing a phase. You have two phases coming in the house. Phase “A” is 120 Volt to ground and phase “B” is 120 volt to ground, if one of them is not working half the of house will not have power. Call the a local electrician and have it tested.

      Reply
  3. Sid

    November 4, 2015

    Hi Glen,

    I have a similar problem. Half the house has electricity and half the house does not. All the breakers are in ON position and the power company came over and said that the voltage is 245 volts. Phase A to neutral is 121 volts and Phase B to neutral is 121 volts. In short, there’s nothing more they can do. What further checks do you recommend? I called a few electricians in the area but they are booked till december.
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Glen

      November 4, 2015

      the power company normally only checks the power on the outside house. the main breaker inside the house could be bad. if have an electric oven or electric dryer and they are working properly the main breaker is work.

      Reply
  4. Julie

    November 15, 2015

    We have a fuse that goes for all the bedrooms. Only one bedroom is out? The rest work. Any thoughts?

    Reply
    • Glen

      November 15, 2015

      common problem. many times it a bad wire connection on one the outlets, all outlets after bad connection that one will not work.

      Reply
  5. Nyssa

    December 6, 2015

    loss power to kitchen and garage. An electrician came out and diagnosed it as a the meter sprockets going bad. His suggestion was to replace which would cost ~$3200.00. He said that it was my problem not the electricity company. Does this sound logical? I have homeowners ins. Do you think it may cover some of the cost?

    Reply
  6. Noelle

    December 29, 2015

    I’m still not sure if I should call the power company or electrician. All the breakers are on. My appliances and lights all work fine. Only half the outlets in the house are not working now, after a storm. Just cannot plug in some lamps or devices. What should I do?

    Reply
    • Glen

      December 29, 2015

      If you have an electric stove and it’s working okay you probably need to call an electrician.

      Reply
  7. Diana

    January 24, 2016

    I’m having a similar problem. Part of my condo unit loses power from a few seconds to over an hour. Strangely, the over an hour scenario started this past week at night when the temperature is colder than usual- in Florida that is below 50. Last night I was awake after it was gone a while, then I heard a pop then the lamp next to my bed came back on. I have suspected that outlet to be faulty for a while. I have also isolated that 3 switches in the breaker box controls the areas that lose power at the same time– some outlets in the living room;in the master bedroom; the fridge & microwave oven. So what you’re saying is that it is possible that a faulty outlet in my bedroom may be the problem? I’ve seen it spark when I plug / unplug my phone. Also, what’s up with the extensive outages these past cold nights? Is there an electrical explanation for that, or just coincidence. Daytime it’s going for a few seconds only and not as often.

    Reply
    • Glen

      January 24, 2016

      I suggest calling a local electrician and have it checked before your totally without power. Sounds like a loose connection in the wiring. If your losing power to 3 breakers at the same time. Sounds like a loose connection in the main breaker or meter base wiring.

      Reply
      • Diana

        January 24, 2016

        Thank you. I’m having one come out ASAP.

  8. Kevin

    January 25, 2016

    We are experiencing a decrease in power from multiple breakers. They aren’t completely out, but the lighting is very dim and the oven won’t work. No rhyme or reason for where it is out in house. Parts of some rooms affected but not all parts of these rooms. Do you think it is more likely than not a power company problem?

    Reply

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