Weird Electrical Problem


I have a main power box outside with two 50-amp breakers and one 30-amp breaker. A voltage test shows 120 volts passing through them. Three of my six 20 amp breakers in the inside box are not receiving any voltage. They did not trip, just out of the blue for no apparent reason stopped getting any power through them. The other three are working normally. What is going on?
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The 50's are single pole or double pole?
Coming into your house is 2 120vac lines and a neutral. It sounds like one of those 120 lines is not getting to your subpanel with the 6 20amp breakers in it. What's on the 50's? Does one of them feed your subpanel with the 6 20s in it?
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On 9/4/2010 10:51 AM, jamesgangnc wrote:

I don't know the difference between single and double pole. That is exactly what the problem is- power not getting to the subpanel. Half of the breakers are receiving power, the other half are not. Everything was working fine until yesterday when this problem arised.
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On Sat, 04 Sep 2010 12:12:21 -0600, Jon wrote:

Do you have a voltmeter and know anything about distribution panel wiring?
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Please call a friend who knows some about electrical, or an electrician. You're into dangerous territory, working with panel boxes.
--
Christopher A. Young
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wrote:

While I agree with those preaching caution and get help I also feel a person who asks a question deserves and answer.
If you will find this text "Finally, pick the breaker" about halfway down this page: http://www.thewoodnerd.com/articles/circuitSizing.html
there is a picture of 3 breakers. They are 2 single pole 110V breakers and a double pole 220V breaker (number 3). If you use your test probe from any single screw at the right edge of the breaker to neutral buss you should show 110V. For the 220V breaker to be working properly you would need to get 110V at both of the screws. NOTE: than some one has attached a white wire to one terminal of the breaker in this photo and if they took the time to color code it correctly that does not show in the picture.
Quote from the page "Also notice how the DP breaker (#3) has just a single toggle (the switch flipper)? Some DP breakers will actually have two toggles tied together with a metal clip, same effect."
It sounds like you have lost one side of one of you 220 volt breakers or if you have 220 at the breaker you have lost a connection between that point and the inside panel. Breakers can and do go bad. Losing half of the load on a 220 can and does happen.
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Colbyt
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On 9/4/2010 1:35 PM, Colbyt wrote:

Thanks for the intelligent answer. Usenet will always have more than its share of smart-asses and trolls. I didn't come here asking if I should reach in there and feel around and see what happens and I didn't claim to have any electrical knowledge. I thought someone who did have the knowledge might be familiar with the symptom. I found out the problem is a fried lead (or whatever the proper term is) where one side of a 50-amp breaker makes the connection. That is why one side was still working. The only way to fix it is to replace the entire service panel.
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Depending on the brand of panel it may well be possible to replace just the bus portion, the fried part of the existing one.
This is not a DIY project for most people and you may have a hard time finding an electrician who is will to do the repair. They all like to sell new parts.
Colbyt
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Yep. BTDT. Unless the panel is of fairly recent manufacture, though, it may be hard to find the parts.

Agreed. I've done a *lot* of DIY electrical work, both new and repair, and I found it to be a bit challenging.

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Try resetting ALL breakers if that doesnt fix it call power company one side of their line might be out.
That has happened here
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Sounds like an open, with one of the legs of the power company's power. Also sounds like you have some basic electrical knowledge, but this one is outside your skill set at the moment.
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Jon wrote:

You've lost a leg. There are three wires coming from the light pole: 2 120v legs and a neutral.
This is almost always a power company problem - one of the secondary windings in the transformer supplying your house has fried and gone open.
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I don't know the exact answer, but something similar happened to me two years ago when I bought a vacant bank-owned property. When I had the power turned on in my name, I found that only part of the house had power and the rest didn't. All of the circuit breakers were on, and I tried resetting all of them anyway, but that didn't do anything. I called the power company and when they came back out all they had to do was tighten one of the nuts/connectors in the main panel. I think one side of the feed coming into the main panel had a loose connection.
I don't necessarily recommend that you try this, but they do make insulated screwdriver-like nut tightener that I found in the electrical department at Home Depot. I bought one in case I had to retighten any of the connectors, but I never had to use it.
So, maybe all you have is a loose connection in the main panel.
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On 9/4/2010 3:49 PM, RogerT wrote:

Pretty close. I called the power co. and a tech came and checked it out. The lead where one of the breakers connects is burned and the service panel will have to be replaced.
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I had something similar happen once. I think it was a loose or bad connection with one of the circuit breakers and it caused the contact in the panel to melt. The family that was living in the property said that the power tended to go on and off and they thought they may have noticed a burnt smell near the panel. The good news was that an electric company had their business next door. They came over, found the problem, and replaced the bad breaker but connected it in a different slot in the panel. That fixed everything and we didn't need to replace the whole panel. Your situation may be different which is why they are saying the whole panel needs to be replaced. But, maybe if you are lucky, an electrician will be able to relocate the bad breaker without having to replace the whole panel.
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On 9/5/2010 3:57 PM, RogerT wrote:

I already figured that out. I noticed there was a space available for an additional breaker and moved the affected one to that spot. Everything is back to normal now.
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On 9/6/2010 2:15 PM, Jon wrote:

If you don't plan to repair or replace the panel (or plan to do it 'someday'), please tape a note inside the door that position 'X' should not be used, and why. And if you can find a suitable snap-in blank cover for the position with the damaged lugs, you should fill the hole.
Just so the next poor SOB doesn't have to start from scratch, etc. Life is what happens while you are making other plans, and you may not be the next person in that panel. Not everyone will think to look, or be able to recognize, that the lug is damaged.
--
aem sends...

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wrote:

Outstanding.
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Excellent.
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In typed:

Since you have to ask, and that's the most dangerous place there is to play around power, you should get a pro in to take care of it. You have a breaker problem, loose wires or a break further up the line.
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