Weird Electrical Problem

My house is less than 2 years old. But the 1 year warranty is over. Living room lights / fan do not have power most of the time. I double checked the circuit breakers. They are all in the ON position. There are a couple of switches in the circuit breaker. They have a green TEST button. If I hit the TEST button, sometimes power comes in living room on even if the switch is left in the off position or middle position. The power is on for a variable time. Sometimes, it goes off quickly. Other times, it stays for a few hours. Also, the fan and light switch or not independent. If I turn off the light switch it also turns off the fan. If I turn the light switch back on, the fan turns on. For fan to work both fan and light switches must be on. For light to work, only the light switch needs to be on.
What is the purpose of the circuit breaker switch with green "TEST" button? Why does hitting the TEST button and leaving it in "OFF" state bring the power on? I thought that the opposite would have happened, meaning power will go off. What could be problem with my electrical connections?
The electrical company that my builder used is asking for $75/hour to come and look into this problem. They will also charge $150 for travel on top of this. Should I have to pay them, even though it seems that they did not do the connections correctly in the first place?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
My house is less than 2 years old. But the 1 year warranty is over. Living room lights / fan do not have power most of the time. I double checked the circuit breakers. They are all in the ON position. There are a couple of switches in the circuit breaker. They have a green TEST button. If I hit the TEST button, sometimes power comes in living room on even if the switch is left in the off position or middle position. The power is on for a variable time. Sometimes, it goes off quickly. Other times, it stays for a few hours. Also, the fan and light switch or not independent. If I turn off the light switch it also turns off the fan. If I turn the light switch back on, the fan turns on. For fan to work both fan and light switches must be on. For light to work, only the light switch needs to be on.
What is the purpose of the circuit breaker switch with green "TEST" button? Why does hitting the TEST button and leaving it in "OFF" state bring the power on? I thought that the opposite would have happened, meaning power will go off. What could be problem with my electrical connections?
The electrical company that my builder used is asking for $75/hour to come and look into this problem. They will also charge $150 for travel on top of this. Should I have to pay them, even though it seems that they did not do the connections correctly in the first place?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
It sounds like the fan-light may be wired incorrectly at the switch. The breaker with the light is probably an AFCI breaker, which by current code wouldn't be protecting your living room, and would certainly not be turning the power on with the breaker off. My guess is the tripping of that breaker causes a loose connection in the panel to make. I don't know what obligations the electrical contractor may have, but I would call some electrical contractor to look at it before it becomes a bigger problem

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
tom snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

This sounds to me like 1 of 3 things:
1) The problem was there from Day 1, but you either did not notice anything wrong or did not bother to complain about it until after the warranty expired.
If the problem was caused by the builders and is a kind of problem that can be a non-problem until after the warranty expires, tell it to the judge. Beware of statutes of limitations - you may have 2 years or whatever time limit after time of wrongdoing to sue (varies by state and maybe type of lawsuit and what is being sued over).
You should also tell your municipal/county politicians what kind of work the building inspectors signed off on - if your county or municipality has such things.
2) Things broke down from working properly due to quality of breakers and/or connections. If this occurs after the warranty expires, what I think the usual course is:
a) Hire an independent electrician to get things straightened out.
b) If the independent electrician determines that the builder used substandard or flawed parts or did substandard work, check into recourse under your state's consumer protection laws, and tell BBB what kind of work your builder did according to your independent electrician. Also say so on relevant message boards, but limit your statements to facts that you can support, such as written findings by an independent licensed electrician and photos that electricians on all sides would have a hard time disagreeing over, better still photos of matter mentioned in a report by your electrician if pictures can add support. I have heard horror stories about lawsuits by developers. I might even plunk down a hundred or two if necessary to ask a local lawyer knowledgeable in such matters as to what would be good to say where and how (or for that matter if and how you can get the builder to fix the problem if the builder is responsible).
3) Someone did some bad work or some bad "helpful improvements" after the house was built. That is not the builder's fault, unless the problem was caused by shoddy warranty work or shoddy followup work by the builder or contractor thereof.
- Don Klipstein ( snipped-for-privacy@misty.com)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Don Klipstein wrote:

You don't think it's possible that the OP put a new lamp/tv/stereo/whatever in the living room and it has a ground fault or perhaps a bad connection tripping an AFCI? Heck, even a loose light bulb might produce slight in socket arcing and trip an AFCI at some random time based on vibrations of foot traffic near it.
Do you think it's not possible that the builder built with quality components and good workmanship and a "normal" problem has appeared? If the OP can tell us what brand of panel it is that will give a good indication of quality.
I'd recommend the OP try disconnecting all devices plugged in in the affected area and check the tightness of all lights and then reset the breaker. It's also possible if it is a GFCI or AFCI that the breaker has failed, even if it's a good brand, nothing is immune from some level of failures.
Pete C.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Mon, 06 Aug 2007 16:31:39 -0700, tom snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

You should probably turn them off and then on again. People here say that is necessary sometimes.

Bad connection somewhere, I suppose. Probably in a box. Are you handy? Do you understand electricity? (not electronics, just lightbulbs and switches and wires?) Do you have a volt-ohmmeter, or are you willing to buy one and learn to use it?
Also, the fan and

VERy strange. Did it work this way a year ago?

It's either a GFI breaker, or maybe one of the new AFCI breakers, that are supposed to trip when there is a bad ground for the first one, or arcing for the second (and I guess the second also trips on a bad ground.) The button is there to test if it trips when it should.

Very strange, except maybe you're checking the power at a place not controlled by that breaker.
I didn't think a living room fan had to be on one of these special circuits (I thought maybe a bedroom had to be.)

Read your warranty closely, and also maybe you can get some special favor from them, although it sounds like you called already and they're not going to give you any favors.
You won't like half of this story, but in August of 1963, they finished construction of my high school. It was either a million, or two, a very high price compared to anything they had built in previous years. Everything was fine until spring, when a bus hit an electric pole about a block from the school and the power went out. The building had AC which meant that there were interior rooms with no windows, plus the auditorium and the gymnasium, and there were suppposed to be emergency lights that would come on automatically in a power failure, via a generator, I'm sure. Many of those rooms were totally dark and otoh, some rooms with windows had lights that came on, or stayed on. The electrician had made many mistakes, others as well that I can't remember, and the school made him fix them for free.
But the thing is, the school also had only a year to find those mistakes, and they should have started looking already. Apparently if the bus hadn't hit the pole, they weren't going to check at all, and the school district would have had to pay for all the changes.
Now this was the wealthiest township in Indiana (which isn't really saying much). I don't think there were many who were rich, but there weren't many who were poor either, and all in all, the school had more money than any other township to hire someone competent. But they didn't get this part, the self-inspection part, right either.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
Sounds like there could be a loose connection somewhere. Maybe in panel. Also sounds like something was wired wrong.
Probably easy for electrician to fix, however not a typical do-it-yourself thing.
I would suggest hiring a different electrician.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.