Temperature-related outlet power loss

Hi,
I have an odd sort of outlet power failure. I have two outlets, one downstream from the other, in the back firewall of my garage. A large air compressor is connected to the downstream one, and an upright freezer is connected to the other. The compressor is off, and the freezer is relatively new and working fine (compressor spins quietly). It's been all hooked up like that for four months or so without any problems, and I can run the compressor and freezer motor simultaneously without popping the breaker.
Last week we had a heat wave (I'm in San Diego) and the freezer complained of a power loss. Checking the outlets, both were dead. The compressor switch was off. I went out to the breaker box, and saw that no breakers were tripped. Hmmm. I didn't have a lot of time to debug it, so I hooked the freezer to a live circuit from another part of the garage and left it for the night.
Next day I went out to the garage to have a look, and my tester showed power on both outlets. Huh?
The only difference I can see is that:
1. The freezer is no longer connected 2. It was very hot in the garage the day of the failure, and cooler the next day.
I assume it's a problem with the breaker, since the rest of the system is just wire. I'll replace the breaker, of course.
I'm just curious if anyone here has seen such intermittent electrical problems like this, and what would cause it?
- Dave Svoboda, Sandy Eggo
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<< intermittent electrical problems like this, and what would cause it? >>
1) Loose connection at outlet closest to the breaker. 2) Loose connection at the breaker 3) Aluminum wiring leading to 1) or 2) above.
There are some brands of breakers often used on the left coast that were known trouble makers. Check NG archives for details, but IIRC Federal-Pacific or some such was mentioned. HTH
Joe
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I agree with Joe, look for a loose connection. check the breaker for a loose screw and check the neutral s in the panel for loose screws. If they check out ok, I would next check the connections at the recpticales Look for whats called "back stabbed" recpt. this is where the wires are stuck into little holes in the back of the recpt. common problem easy fix. if the recpt are back stabbed take the wires out and wrap them (clock wise) around the scews on the sides of the recpt. and tighten. Shouldn't take you more than 45 min . Should you find the recpt. "back stabbed " if would be a bad idea to check the rest of your house for the same and correct before theis problem shows up some where else. If they are not "back stabbed " check any other type of connections ( wires wraped around screws check thghtness , any wire nut connections ,again check tightness) . Don't forget to turn power off first!!!
Bill
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Do you have an GFCI for the outlets? If so, motors and gfci's tend to not like one another. Did you move the breakers? If you did then you might have reset the offending breaker and not realized it.
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No GFCI. I already replaces the upstream (I hope the only upstream--I need to check that) GFCI with a regular outlet, since my compressor did NOT like the GFCI one bit.
I didn't touch the breakers. I'm not even certain which one it is without some testing. They were all aligned in the box, so unless one popped without moving the lever, it didn't pop.
Power's been on those outlets every time I've checked for over a week, now. Plugged the freezer back into the outlet night before last, and it seems to have had continuous power (the alarm is fairly loud, and my wife is home all day). The only variable seems to be the garage temperature.
Thanks, all, for your suggestions. I'll trace that power line and make sure it's screwed around the terminals properly at each outlet, and that it's connected into the breaker box cleanly, before I go and change the breaker.
- Dave Svoboda, Sandy Eggo
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