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Question DetailsAsked on 6/22/2016

electic keeps going out, only 1 socket works and outside lights. need help finding the problem

I work all day, come home turn light on and loose power. One wall socket works & outside light, but that is it. Does not happen everyday. Just sometimes. May be a second or so or could be out all night. I've had a electrian look at it and he says have to loose power to find the problem, but not home during the day. Son says it happens then also. Need help finding the problem so I can get it fixed.

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2 Answers


Assuming a normal size house, sounds like a serious wiring problem, because if you lose one of the two live leads on your (normally) 220/240V feed, all the large demand applicances (electric range, electric dryer, electric water heater, electric furnace/heating, central air conditioner) will go out or only partially work AND about half the outlets and lights in your house will go dead. If you have only one wall outlet and outside light working rather than half, sounds like you have lost most of the neutral connection somewhere - most likely a fuse/breaker box problem.

Find a new electrician who will check your wiring from meter through to breaker box - and to the extent possible before he comes, figure out which outlets and lights work and which do not so you can tell him - will greatly help trace the problem. OR you could set up with electrician to come as soon as it fails, and have son (assuming teenager or more) call you or the electrician when it happens next to get the electrician there while the power is out - but this should be something he can track down with the power on and not have to wait for it to fail. Usually just wiggling wires and breakers finds the loose connection.

This is almost certainly a wire or breaker box bus or connector making and breaking connection - so a life safety issue, because when it does that it can arc and overheat as it makes and breaks contact and can start a fire. I have personally put out three house fires/smoldering studs in my neighborhood after the neighbors called me about this type of problem or about smoke coming out of the breaker box - commonly caused by arcing at the incoming aluminum wires to the breaker box which have not been checked for good tight connections every 5 years or so as they should be (and which need almost no one is ever told about), but can be a bad connection elsewhere, a loose meter, or even a problem in your incoming drop from the utility or in their equipment. Also, if your house is quite new and has a whole-house surge protector or AFCI breaker, they sometimes fail in this manner.

Not something to put off, and I would avoid using any high-power electric items in the home at a minimum until fixed. If this were my house and I did not know how to fix it myself, I would be turning off the main breaker until an electrician fixed it - because there is the significant potential for it to start a fire at any time of day.

Oh - on the not home during day - many electricians have 24 hour service (at typically 50 or 1005 higher rates of course) but that would allow you to be home when he is there - though this might be the sort of thing you could handle over the phone - authorize an hour's diagnosisw up front for about $150/hr typically, then have him call if it is going to cost more than that and talk to you about what he found.

If Electrical contractor cannot find it, then next step is to contact your power company and have them check their part of the service. IF your meter is the type that has two red or green LED's that glow all the time and one goes out when you lose power, then the problem is almost certainly on their end and they would be the first to call. Unfortunately, most meters only have one (or no) LED's to indicate the meter is "live".

Answered 4 years ago by LCD


If the power company visits and does not remedy the problem then tell them to remove the meter lock, if you have one, before they leave. The electricain may need access the part of the panel behind the meter. Electricians do not have keys to these locks and the power company does not approve of electricians cutting them off.


Answered 4 years ago by Kestrel Electric

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