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Question DetailsAsked on 6/16/2014

one of my circuit breakers on my panel stopped working and it effected certain electrical outlets in my house.

The outlets effected are my stove, washer, dryer, 1 upstairs bedroom and garage door. All other outlets are working. What can I do to check it before I have to call an electricain?

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3 Answers


Try to think of what was going on when it went out - using dryer or range especially, or lightening storm nearby ? If went out while using major device, leave it off for now.

You probably have two 220V breakers involved there - range and dryer, at least certainly if electric rather than gas - plus probably 2-3 more circuits, so this should not be a single breaker issue. Sounds like one side of the master breaker tripped - if you had no sparks or smoke or anything when it failed, and no smoke/burned insulation smell or scorching at breaker box or outside by meter, turn of computers and such and all heavy electrical loads and then with one hand (not touching any metal box or anything else to be on safe side) try resetting the master breaker - turn to Off if not already at off, then to On - do NOT try to hold it on if it wants to kick back off. If stays on OK, then one by one turn on any breakers in breaker box that are tripped out, check areas for any smell or spitting sounds, then try devices that went out one by one. Major devices like range and ddryer start at a light load - one burner only first, then several, then oven - on dryer start with air cycle, then delicate, then permanent press. If trips breaker again unplug that device until check by appliance repairman.

Of course, all your clocks and alarm system will need resetting from resetting the master breaker.

If that does not handle it, sounds like a significant wiring issue that needs an electrician for sure - possibly loose connector of main feed wire at meter base or master breaker or breaker box, possibly something burned or broken in breaker box.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD


Sometimes power company problems cause half the power to the house to quit. Make sure your neighbors are not experiencing the same problem.

Like LCD says, unplug appliances and see if the breaker resets. You don't want to call an electrician for a lamp you can replace with a trip to Walmart.

There is nothing else you can safely do.

Make sure to get at least 3 estimates from electrical contractors.

You may be surprised at the range of diagnoses and costs.

This problem may be a breaker or a loose connection. Or it could require the addition of new circuits, especially if the stove and dryer are not gas appliances. The difference between these issues is a few hundered and several thousand dollars.

Answered 5 years ago by Kestrel Electric


Good catch by Kestrel - if neighbors are missing half their circuits too, then power company problem - call them. Downed or broken wire to broken or loose transformer tap.

Then, if neighbor's power on both sides of you is OK, check this out if you have a listing of which breakers serve what areas. Depending on your brand of circuit breaker box (as there are two different ways, at least, that breakers are numbered or how they connect to buses in the box), if either ALL of the circuits served by either your even or odd numbered breakers are out (ALL of one or the either, without exception) OR if ALL the circuits served by the breakers on one side of the panel (left or right) regardless of numbering are out, then undoubtedly one of the feed wires or neutral bus leads has broken or become disconnected. In this case, you definitely need an electrician - might be an internal part in the box needs replacement, could be just a loose wire connection, could be a bad lug in inside or outside box or meter base, break in incoming wiresto your house, or could be a bad half of the master breaker which will need to be replaced. Should be easy for elecrician to track down which it is - cost could be minimum service charge if loose lug or connection, to more significant if broken bus bar or shot main breaker or a main feed wire shorted and burned.

Main breaker failure happened to me a few years back - shut off main to do some wiring in breaker box, turned back on and looked fine but half of circuits were out because the innards of one of the paired main breakers had broken, so even though looked like was on, no internal connection.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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