Circuit Breaker strangeness intermittent nightmare - any thoughts?


I'm having a strange problem and wanted to know if anyone had any thoughts about it.
A few days ago I came home and turned on my stereo... it came on for a split second and then it and the lights in the same room went dead. I went to my circuit breaker box and the switch for that room had not tripped. As it turns out - at that moment - I lost power on most, but not all, of my circuits. I lost power on 7 or 8 of my 16 circuits.
Three hours later these items all mysteriously came back on as suddenly as they vanished.
I had this same problem yesterday - when I came home the power was out - later on it came back on. I don't have a particularly heavy electrical load in general and certainly not yesterday.
This morning I was testing and more accurately labeling what was on each circuit when I believe I caused the same problem to occur again while plugging in a fan in my shed. The shed circuit went on but the problematic circuits all died.
So I'm without power once again throughout most of my house.
I'm not sure if it matters but it appears that the switches are functioning in this order (2 rows of fuses)
Out Out On (Not sure, doubles with one above it for dryer) Out Out On On Out Out On On Out Out On On
Any help would be greatly appreciated.
Chris
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

One side of the Line ("phase", if you prefer) is open. If the panel has a Main breaker or Main fuse, the problem may be there.
It could also be a utility problem: connection in the meter stab, or splice out at the pole, etc.
Often, the utlity will investigate for you if you're un comfortable poking about. Worth a call first.
Jim
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I agree with Jim. You did a good job of describing a circuit breaker panel with an intermittent connection to one side if the incoming line.
It will probably take more tools and knowledge than you presently have to locate exactly where the "loose disconnection" is occurring.
Try calling your utility company and telling them, "I'm intermittently losing one side of the line." If they won't help you then call in a pro.
HTH,
Jeff
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

If you remove the breakers, you'll see the each main bus snakes back and forth to provide contact for every other breaker. This technique simplifies balancing the load on each leg. For example, your first paired breaker guarantees that each circuit is on a different leg, thereby pulling equal current on each branch when the dryer operates.
So, then, it's obvious you have an intermittent leg - you've lost one phase.
Usually this is a loose or corroded connection where the lines enter the breaker box or upstream in the meter housing.
Rarely, the power company loses one of your phases due to a half-fried transformer.
One other possibility: The bus - that curvy conductor that passes under the breakers and into which they plug - may be broken.
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Certainly on leg as described, could also have been cause by water getting into the panel box and causing corrosion?
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wrote:

If you are handy and not afraid to mess with electricity, the next time the power goes out on this half of the "leg", take a meter and see if you have power on both sides of the line, BEFORE the main breaker. If NOT, call the power company. If you do, then check AFTER the main breaker. If not, replace the main breaker. If you do, you have something else in the panel.
If you are uncomfortable with this, call your electric company, but be prepared to hire a pro if they determine your problem is inside your home.
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1. for safety ask for free electricity utility company to visit, it will determine this safely as to whether the company or pole or meter has a problem. often they come out quick since it can be an early symptom of their problem. in some power company outages such as niagara mohawk the loss of power in half the main box is a symptom of their problem. 2. then hunt down the inside questions.
snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

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On 18 Nov 2006 08:15:41 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

Looks like one phase is out (that "Not sure" one should be on, but the dryer may not do anything without both).
There are often several houses connected to the same power transformer. Do any of those neighbors have a similar problem?
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By any chance are you in a mobile/manufactured house? In a double or triple configuration the power is connected underneath from unit to unit and failure of these connections is a known problem.
Charlie
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