Last night our power upstairs started blinking, then went off for a few
seconds, then went off entirely. My husband has done what he can in the
fuse box but says it doesn't appear to be a fuse. Does anyone have any
suggestions or ideas of what might be wrong?
You need to determine how many lights and outlets are out, and in what
rooms. The purpose is to figure if this is an open to part of a circuit or
is it a partial power failure coming into the building. If it only involves
a few lights and outlets, yet all the circuit breakers are on and
functioning,(needs to be determined by opening the panel and checking each
breaker with a tester) It is probably a loose connection in an outlet, or at
a junction box. Sometimes you can find the location of this type of loose
connection by banging on each dead outlet, and each live outlet in the
vicinity of the dead outlets. When you bang on an outlet, if the lights
flicker, it may be the location of the loose connection
One thing I think is a good idea is to make a list of every outlet and
every light in your house and what breaker they're on. After 25 years
of owning the house I'm in, I just barely got around to doing that a
few months ago (when I bought a generator). Now if I ever have those
kind of problems, it will be easier to track down.
RBM (remove this) wrote:
We don't have a list, but I think these are basically the same things
that go out when one particular fuse blows, but the fuse isn't blown.
But I'm not positive, I'd have to ask my husband, who is sleeping right
On 23 Dec 2006 19:27:42 -0800, email@example.com wrote:
It took me nearly that long ownership to label every breaker in the f
box, but now it's a lot easier to figure out what blew. Also to warn
visitors not to plug a space heater, hair dryer, etc. into the same
circuit as computer and room lights.
My husband says he doesn't think we have a partial power failure coming
into the house because our hot water heater is working well.
We don't have circuit breakers, but fuses. It seems they are all
working....and we don't seem to have any junction boxes.
Thank you for suggesting banging on the outlets. We tried it but
couldn't get any flickering.
My husband says he thinks the problem is in the fuse box, which for
some reason is on our back porch, but he can't figure out what is wrong
or what is what.
The fuse box is a mess. If getting this fixed costs a lot of money, we
can't do it, and I hate having these extension cords run up the
stairway. This is miserable, thinking of having to live like this for
an extended period of time!
Thank you for your suggestions!
RBM (remove this) wrote:
There are two types of plug fuses used in houses, one has a metal screw on
it just like a light bulb, the other type, which is called fusestat or "S"
type fuse, has a ceramic screw and is thinner than the other type. This type
of fuse screws into an adapter, which in turn screws into the fuse socket on
the panel. These fuses need to be very tight in order to make contact, so if
this is what you have, have bubblegumdad try a little more elbow grease
On Sun, 24 Dec 2006 07:36:00 -0500, "RBM" <rbm2(remove
I know someone with a fuse box. It has 3 30A fuses with Edison base
(like a light bulb) and 3 20A fuses of the other kind (I think they're
called 'restriction base'). The 20A fuses use that kind of base to
keep you from screwing the wrong kind in.
Yep, that's a fusestat, you screw a fusestat base into the socket, 15 or 20
amp, then only that size fuse will fit. The base is permanent, although
there is a too to remove them. Problem with fusestats is they have to be
tightened beyond what you would normally expect, or they don't make contact
Flickering lights can be caused by a loose wire. If you had a loose
wire in the fuse (breaker?) panel or a junction box, it may have
finally have worked itself completely open.
(I'll use "fuse" because you did - simply exchange it for breaker if
that's what you really have)
You said your husband "has done what he can" in the fuse box. If
checking the fuses is all he is confident in doing, then it might be
time to call an electrician or a knowledgeable friend.
On the other hand, if he wants to keep looking, he could trying
removing the main fuse (or shutting off the main breaker) and removing
the front panel. If he can find the wires that go to the 2nd floor, he
should start at the panel and check for any loose wires - both hot and
If all seems well in the panel, he could start tracing the wires and
checking the connections in any junction boxes along the run. Keep in
mind that any of the outlet and/or switch boxes could be considered a
"junction box" in this exercise.
Once again, if your husband is not confident in digging deeper, please
err on the side of caution and call someone who is. Tell him to hang
around, ask questions and use it as learning opportunity.
My husband thinks it is something in the fuse box, but can't see what.
I guess he doesn't know how to figure what goes where and has no
schematic for the box. It is an old box and really a mess.
My husband does know quite a bit about electrical things, though not an
expert, but he has been ill and can't handle things the way he used to.
We're afraid this is a huge expensive job, which we just can't have
I'll read him your e-mail again tomorrow and see if he feels he can do
more, but these days everything just seems to be overwhelming to him.
Thank you so much for your suggestions!
I check with your neighbors and see if they have any problems. It could
be a problem with the power company.
How much of your home is without power? If a small part (5-20%) I would
guess it is a loose connection somewhere. Finding it and fixing it is not
impossible for the do it yourselfer, but I suspect from your question that
it may be a little dangerous for you to try. You need to find (we can't
help a lot here) where the problem is and then make sure the power is off
(no always simple) and then fix it (not always safe.)
When the power comes into your home, you get three wires plus a ground
Those three are two hots and a neutral.
Half your 120V outlets are on one of the hots and the others are on the
other. All the 240V devices work from both hots and do not need a neutral.
(Some uses need both 120V and 240V so they get four wires (two hots a
neutral and a ground). The two hots are call legs or phases.
That is why it is likely that if half your devices are out, that it
would likely be one phase out. That could be in your home or a problem with
the supply. If only a smaller percentage like 10-20% are out, then it is
likely a problem with your homes wiring.
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