Partial Power Outage in My Home

Posted on: November 22nd, 2011 by Glen 52 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.

52 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
  9. Marcie

    February 20, 2016

    Last night we lost power to the living room, bathroom, hallways and kitchen. However, the w/d, fridge and a few outlets work in those areas, as well as 2/4 bedrooms. Power company came, no issues on their end. Electrician came at 9pm and stayed til midnight and can’t find the problem. Coming back today. Any ideas?

    Reply
  10. Lisa

    February 22, 2016

    Last night the power went out due to a blown transformer. Today I have two rooms that have no power. None of the fuses are burnt. My gas furnace and stove still work. Please help.

    Reply
    • Jesse Bryant

      July 19, 2016

      Hi Lisa, did yiu ever find a solution to this electrical problem? I’m experiencing the same problem after a blown transformer, but it is my oven that is not on now. Any help is appreciated.

      Reply
  11. Gary

    March 1, 2016

    We had high winds a few nights ago. Only some of the lights in my townhouse were dimming and flickering. Later, I lost power to those lights and they flicker on and off from time to time.
    PSEG said they could not find a loose wire, but said there is corrosion in the panel below the electric meter behind my attached home. He sad I have to call an electrician who should try to loosen something/clean something up. I really didn’t catch what he was saying as he had told me over his phone.
    My neighbor had his outside panel replaced at a cost of $2500. I cannot afford that. I hope I can find an honest electrician.

    Reply
  12. Fran

    March 31, 2016

    Is it possible to overload outlets till they burn out? My daughter & son-in-law had power strips on almost every outlet. Told them not to do so cause its an older house (built 1973) & not designed for the load they were trying to pull. One by one the outlets began to fail. They completely blew out all electrical in their bathroom. How bad a situation could I be looking at? Rest of the house is fine. Just can’t plug in anything over 1,000 watts or it trips the breaker

    Reply
    • Glen

      March 31, 2016

      Call a local electrician to check it out. It’s a common problem and it needs to be remedy. I would guess that the contacts inside electrical outlets are damaged or the wiring has become loose on the outlet and the outlets require replacement. There might be damage to the wiring inside the wall also.

      Reply
  13. Lee

    April 25, 2016

    Today MetEd was working on power lines near our house and turned off our grid for almost 2 hours. When power came back on everything was working except the electric oven and kitchen ceiling light. Now, the only way to get the kitchen ceiling light to turn on is by turning on the right front burner. Then I can control the kitchen light with the switch. Turn the stove/oven off, so does the kitchen light. The oven/stove isn’t working at all, only thing it does is act like a switch for the kitchen ceiling light. The fridge, microwave, all else works fine. Called MetEd, my electric provider, and they said it’s not them despite the fact that this only started after they turned the grid back on, it’s internal, yet coincidentally it happened after they did work on the power lines and we’ve lived here two years with nothing like this ever happening. Landlord is getting an electrician to come out tomorrow. We’ll see what’s going on….

    Reply
    • Glen

      April 26, 2016

      You lost one of the “power legs” coming into the house. I would guess it’s on the power company side. someone will have to test power to really know for sure

      Reply
  14. Claudia

    June 3, 2016

    Part of our power in our house is out and we can’t figure it out. Garage door, home alarm, sprinkler system, and AC unit. We have checked all breakers but nothing works. We had a bad storm and wondered if it could have been lighting but there is no evidence.

    Reply
  15. Kathy

    July 2, 2016

    Glen-
    Twice I lost power in one section of the house after turning on a lamp, no breaker blown or GFCI tripped. The day the electrician was scheduled the power magically came back to those areas. He said he couldn’t diagnose it w/ the problem resolved. So tonight I went to turn the same lamp on and poof, out again w/o a breaker tripping. Any suggestions?

    Reply
    • Glen

      July 2, 2016

      Call a different electrician. typically a loose wire connection on one of the outlets. Turn off the power (use an electrical tester to double check the power is off), unscrew the outlets from the wall and check them for loose or burnt wires repair and as needed.

      Reply
  16. Tracy

    August 1, 2016

    We had power out in most of the house. Most of the kitchen outlets, including the fridge, and the front half of the basement worked. Called the electric company to report and 4 1/2 hours later it all came back on, went out again for 10 minutes and then came back on for good. I called the electric company the next day to see what the problem was and the customer service person said that it was a blown transformer?? That didn’t sound right to me, so I started searching online and found this page. Does this sound like I lost a phase. Stove, washer and dryer didn’t work.

    Reply
  17. Tommy

    September 6, 2016

    My problem is that when I try and use a window unit the power doesn’t go completely out. The lights in the house get really dim. Weird thing is that if I turn the dryer on the lights get bright again. I’ve replaced the main breaker as well as 2 of the 30amp ones and checked most every light switch and outlet.

    Reply
  18. Paula

    September 6, 2016

    Glen,
    I lost power (lights/fans) in both bathrooms when plugging in the iron to a socket in the bedroom wall. No circuit breaker tripped but lights are out in the bathrooms and electrical sockets in the bedrooms are out; however, the electrical sockets in the bathrooms work. Should I cut the breaker to the bathroom and check the bedroom sockets for bad wiring or just call an electrician since it’s such a wacky outage?

    Reply
  19. Kelli

    October 12, 2016

    Hi Glen!

    Sounds like a have a similar problem.

    Two electrical panels in the house: 1 for most plugs, one for lights and some appliances. All of the lights in the house except for 1 room just flickered for ~30 seconds, and then died. The plugs that are on the same circuit as the lights are getting minimal power… like a flashlight with a dying battery. The other plugs are still working fine. Right before the final flickering light, I think I may have seen a bright blue flash outside, but I’m not sure. Any ideas? Going to call the power company tomorrow. No fuses are popped and reset everything just to be sure.

    Reply
  20. Lisa

    October 12, 2016

    Power went out back in March 2016 not all of my power didn’t come back on. All the bedroom only have partial power I changed the braker box because water did thought the box i seal around the pipe outside. I hand all my socket check no problem. Someone said i didn’t have neutral anyway 8 mts later the power came on two days ago. I plugged into one of the the outlet my iron and the power of the same socket went back off. Check box nothing happens. Need answers.

    Reply
  21. Dwayne

    October 21, 2016

    Power to my home was disrupted for two weeks due to Hurricane Matthew. After restoration two days ago,I am having the same problem – half of my home has power, other half does not. I am waiting for the power company to come and check it out. I have unplugged major appliances in the meantime.

    Reply
  22. Larry

    October 30, 2016

    Hello,

    I was gone for about two months. When I returned, electricity was on in only part of the house.Neither the oven or the stove top worked. However, when I turn on the air conditioner, power comes up. I had an electrician come out, and he took a reading. Circuit breakers are only getting 120, but he wasn’t clear about what he thought the problem was. Am assuming that the power is cycling back through when AC is on. Have read it might be a grounding or phase issue. Should I call the electric company, another electrician or both?

    Reply
  23. Elvira

    November 18, 2016

    Hello,
    Our house is under contract to be sold. The buyers home inspector found the outlets in the breakfast area and in the dining area are not working. I have reset all GFCI outlets…reset the circuit breaker multiple times..checked for loose wires and still nothing. We have lived here for 2.5 years and have never used those outlets for anything that we can recall and I doubt there is major damage but I am by far no electrician! A friend suggested calling the electric company before calling an electrician. We are supposed to close on December 9th. Thoughts?

    Reply
    • Glen

      November 26, 2016

      Sound like a bad connection someplace. If it’s only one area of the house not working is not the electric company. probably need to call an electrician

      Reply
  24. Amie Look

    November 26, 2016

    Hi Glen,
    Woke up this am to partial home power outage. Have old home but wiring updated 13 years ago. Kitchen/living room lights are out but some outlets work. I have a 40′s range & when I turn it or my dryer on the septic alarm goes out. (My septic alarm light also was NOT blinking as per usual). No tripped fuses. We are experiencing a LARGE amount of rainfall & wind if that could hint to any causes. Any suggestions would be appreciated.
    Thank you

    Reply
  25. Caitlin

    December 19, 2016

    Hi Glen, while watching tv last night we lost power in our living room and basement. There was an extra space heater on. That’s the only thing I can think of that would cause a problem. Flipped the main breaker, no luck. What’s odd is the ceiling fan in the living room works along with our dryer in the basement. Everything else is out. And idea what could be the problem?

    Reply
    • Glen

      December 20, 2016

      guessing an overload circuit breaker or a loose connection in the electrical system.

      Reply
  26. William

    December 20, 2016

    Just had a customer with the same problem. Power company came out and told him that the problem was inside the building and to call ABM electrician. Turns out that there was a bad meter socket that would have been obvious if the electrical company tech would have pulled the meter on their first visit. The electrical company did not want to send out another truck because the first guy put in his notes that he checked everything from the pole to the main and the problem was inside building. They finally came back out after 3 more calls and this time the person they sent out new immediately what was wrong soon as he pulled the meter and said the first guy should have done that initially. Best advise is to call a licensed electrician first and let them deal with the power company.

    Reply
    • Glen

      December 20, 2016

      The area I work in the homeowner is still responsible for the meter base repair Yeah it’s impossible to troubleshoot all the problems over the Internet

      Reply
  27. Gary

    December 26, 2016

    I have a situation where half the circuit breakers in the panel are not working and they are not on the same phase line. they are every two breakers going down the panel on and the next two off and the next to on and so on, matched by the breakers on the other phase. Whats up?

    Reply
    • Glen

      December 26, 2016

      Need to call electrician with the voltage tester to find out

      Reply
  28. Samar

    March 5, 2017

    Hi,
    Just want to get a quick input. I had one of the electric heaters plugged in the bedroom (and has been for months now).

    When I woke up this morning, I noticed that section of the bedroom has no power…and adjacent bathroom wall has no power too. Opposite end of the bedroom wall as well as bathroom have power fine.

    No trips, stove works, its just that one part of the house that is without power. Would a loose wiring of one outlet render all the subsequent outlets on that line…powerless?

    Appreciate any help.

    Reply
    • Glen

      March 6, 2017

      yes very common problem

      Reply
  29. derrick

    May 30, 2017

    I have 1 room in my house that lost full power changed breaker and all outlets and switches in that room still no power what is my next move since it’s not a phase or breaker problem

    Reply
  30. Lori

    June 11, 2017

    Hi,

    Awoke this morning to watch CBS Sunday Morning… thought remote had lost its memory until realizing the display screen on the m heater that shares the same outlet with the TV was blank…

    Plugged the TV into a nearby outlet all was good. Assumed the outlet had died, planned to deal with later…

    Alas all was not good…come to find out the overhead light in the living room is out, an outlet on the opposite side of the room is out, and the outlet for the fridge in the kitchen in out… nearby outlets in the kitchen work, as does the overhead light.

    There? may be others, but these are all I have pinpointed at this writing. I checked and flipped off to back on, ALL breakers in the house…

    I have been reading many trouble-shooting pages and am confused by my situation in that it seems the common factor to these other issues is they are limited to “one wall, one room, adjoining? outlets, etc. and mine is not that at all.

    Any ideas before I call for service? Thanks

    Reply
    • Lori

      June 12, 2017

      I have some updates…

      Not sure when things changed but noticed display on monitor heater flashing zeros (wanting the time set), but it’s apparently still having issues as when I set it (multiple times), it continues to go back to flashing zeros. Also, when I turned the living room overhead light on (it didn’t light), it killed the monitor outlet completely. When I turn the overhead light off, the monitor display flashes again.

      The fridge outlet in the kitchen is still out (at last check) and the outlet the on the opposite side of the living room reactivated as well, although I haven’t plugged anything back in it to stay. I initially had an electric cat water fountain plugged into it, which was out completely this morning, then came on but the fountain wasn’t pushing the water…

      Reply
  31. jason steffens

    August 20, 2017

    I’m experiencing something weird right now. My stove light and clock come on but burners are not working and my AC has no power. Everything else is working fine.

    Any ideas?

    Reply
    • Glen

      August 20, 2017

      single phase power. One the of the two 120 volt line is not working. might be the power company or a problem in your electric box.

      Reply
  32. Thomas

    September 21, 2017

    Hi Glen,
    I’ve had circuits go out before because of overloading and have reset the breaker with no problem but this new issue is a little different. The other day one of the circuits in the house that covers three hall lights, and two out of three outlets in the dining room went out… partially. By this I mean that the hall lights don’t work nor do general appliances (lamps, computer monitor, phone charger, etc.) on the affected outlets either. There is one puzzling exception though, A power strip with a lighted on/off switch that is plugged in to any of the outlets still shows power coming through the circuit but anything plugged into the strip doesn’t work. I also plugged an led nightlight into the strip which also doesn’t work until I flip the power strip “off” -and here’s the weird part, the power indicator on the strip stays on but is dimmed and the led nightlight goes on! However no other appliances like lamps work whether the strip is on or off, only the led nightlight. I’m thinking that this is probably because the nightlight uses very little power as does the power indicator on the strip and so some power must be getting through the circuit, but not enough for more power hungry stuff. But why does the strip indicator light only dim when I turn it off and not shut off completely like it does on other circuits (I tested it out elsewhere). Also when I plug the nightlight directly into the outlet and not the strip it does not work! What could be the cause of this weird anomaly and what are your recommendations please? Thank you.

    Reply
  33. Jen

    April 27, 2016

    To update, the stove only has very minimal power. In fact, it’s acting like a flashlight with a dying battery.

    Reply
  34. Glen

    June 3, 2016

    You probably have a single phase power could be the power company. You probably have a single phase power could be the power company problem or you could have a bath main breaker breaker feeding the range time , A local electrician

    Reply

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