Why is There Power in Only Half of My House?

Circuit Breaker - White's Electrical - Indianapolis, Indiana

We probably all know the frustration of a power outage. It’s a pretty common household annoyance, especially if you live in a rural area or an area with extreme weather, like much of Indiana.

Sometimes power can go out in the whole house, only one outlet, or only one room. Here’s what to do in each circumstance.

Power Out in Whole House

Most of the time, if the power is out in the whole house, it is probably a power outage due to downed power lines, weather, or infrastructure. Unless you have access to a generator or other backup power, all you can really do is break out the flashlights and wait until power is restored.

Occasionally if the power is out in your whole home, your breaker needs to be reset. If all of your neighbors have power, this is probably the case. If this is your situation, you may have a tripped breaker. To reset the main breaker in your home, go to the circuit breaker and flip all the breakers off. Turn the main breaker switch on and off several times, finishing in the “on” position. Then reset each of the breakers, one at a time. If power is restored, you are all set! If not, or if it causes the main breaker to trip, you have a problem with a circuit and need to call a licensed electrician for a repair.

Power Out in Only One Outlet

GFCI - Two Prong Outlets - White's Electrical - IndianapolisIf power is out in only outlet, you might have a tripped GFCI. This is just a variation of a tripped breaker. Many circuits in a home (especially bathrooms and kitchens) have GFCI (or ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets. GFCIs detect when current is flowing along an unintended path (like water or a person) and cut the power to that circuit until the GFCI is reset.

To reset this circuit, you just have to push the reset button and power should be restored. If it immediately trips again, you probably have too many things plugged into the same circuit. Unplug some things and try it again. If this doesn’t work, you need to have an electrician come take a look.

If the outlet without power isn’t a GFCI (doesn’t have a reset button on it), you might have a tripped breaker. In your circuit breaker box, check to see if one of the breakers is flipped. If so, make sure it is turned fully to the “off” position, and firmly turn it back to the “on” position. If this doesn’t restore power or if it immediately trips again, call an electrician.

Power Out in Only One Room

If the power is out in only one room, you probably have a tripped breaker. Like we said above, you can fix this by looking for a breaker switch in your circuit breaker box that is off or partially off. Turn it completely off, then switch it back to the on position. It should reset the part of the house without power. If it trips again, there is likely something attached to that breaker that is shorting out. In rarer cases, a breaker can be bad, but this is not as common.

Breakers Keep Tripping

If resetting breakers doesn’t help restore power, or if the same breaker keeps tripping, you probably need to call a local electrician for help. White’s Electrical is a team of licensed electricians with the tools, experience, and training to help diagnose and fix your electrical problems to your home quickly and safely.

What to Do if Your Circuit Breaker Won’t Reset

circuit breaker won't reset

 

One of the most common problems within a home’s electrical system is that of a tripped circuit breaker. You’ve probably experienced it a number of times yourself. Usually, the fix is a simple flip of a switch, and the lights are back on. But occasionally, the circuit breaker won’t reset or keeps tripping. So, what can you do if your circuit breaker won’t reset?

1. Be sure you are resetting the breaker properly.

First of all, be sure that you are taking the proper steps to reset the breaker. It sounds silly, but make sure you’re flipping the right switch. Also, be sure that you’re pushing the breaker handle firmly and fully to the off position, and then back to the on position.

2. Check for evidence of an overloaded circuit.

Signs of an overloaded circuit can look something like this: a circuit breaker trips, won’t reset immediately, resets after a cool-down period, and then trips again after a few minutes. The cause of an overloaded circuit is usually just that there are too many heavy loads plugged into receptacles or outlets on the same circuit, or that there is a faulty appliance plugged into the circuit that is causing the problem. Overloaded circuits are common in older kitchens and bathrooms where there are often several appliances plugged into the same circuit.

To troubleshoot the cause, unplug everything and reset the breaker. If it stays reset, plug in everything one by one, until a problem becomes evident.

3. Check for a short circuit.

If the circuit breaker won’t reset and trips immediately, the problem might be a short circuit. A short circuit occurs when a hot wire carrying a current touches a neutral wire. In this case, the flipped breaker is a safety mechanism and is evidence of your circuit breaker working properly. A short circuit can cause broken appliances, overheating, or even be a fire hazard. If you suspect a short circuit is the reason your circuit breaker keeps tripping, leave the breaker off and call a licensed electrician.

4. Check for a faulty breaker.

Although it is much less likely, it is possible that the breaker itself is faulty. If this is the case, you definitely need to call a licensed electrician for help.

5. Call an electrician for help.

Whether you are inexperienced, uninterested, or just too busy to find the underlying cause of why your circuit breaker won’t reset, a phone call to a licensed electrician at White’s Electrical can’t hurt. At White’s Electrical, we have the experience, knowledge, and tools to find and fix the problem for good.

Connect with us on Facebook, submit this online contact form, or give us a call today at (317)834-1922.

Understanding Your Breaker Box

Understanding Your Breaker Box Whites Electrical Indianapolis Indiana Electrician

An electrical circuit breaker panel is the main distribution of electrical circuits in your home. The system receives and distributes electricity through your home, and without the proper knowledge, you could end up in a dangerous situation if you tried to work on it.

How Does a Breaker Box Work?

The breaker panel is essentially a big switch filled with other smaller switches. The smaller switchers — breakers — control the power in all aspects of the building. They’re similar to the switches inside a living room. Flip with the switch on the wall, and you’ve got power and vice versa. As an added feature, these breakers perform a variety of safety services. They protect the wiring from overload, your home, and its occupants from fire and electrical shock.

Explaining the Aspects of a Breaker Box

Circuit Breakers

Each circuit within your home has a corresponding breaker. The corresponding breaker in the box not only controls whether electricity is on or off but, if there is an overload on a circuit, the connected breaker automatically shuts off to stop the flow of electricity to that circuit. An overload of electricity can occur from too many appliances running at once or a short circuit.

There are two main types of standard breakers:

  • Single Pole – These are single switches which supply 120 volts of power to all circuits within the home. Devices controlled by these breakers are light fixtures and ordinary plug-in outlets.
  • Double Pole – Double pole switches supply around 240 volts of power within a household. This supply of power controls heavy appliances such as clothes dryers and whole-house central air conditioning.

Other types of breakers, such as Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI), provide special purposes like additional safety protection from fire and electrocution.

Service Disconnect

In case of an emergency, the breaker box allows you to shut off the electricity to your entire home by flipping the service disconnect. The service disconnect is the biggest breaker in the box and is sometimes referred to as the “electrical main.” This is where the power from the electric company flows into the box, starting from the main circuit before flowing through the rest.

Expansion Slots

Many breaker boxes have empty slots for additional circuits to be added as needed by a licensed electrician. New circuits run electricity to new appliances in your home or a room such as the garage or basement if required.

The Lifespan of a Circuit Breaker

The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates the life expectancy of a circuit breaker to be around 30 to 40 years, and it’s the same for the GFCI, AFCI, and standard breakers. Because a breaker is a mechanical device, humid conditions or corrosive atmospheres will shorten the life span. On the other hand, a dry, indoor location with moderate temperatures will extend its lifespan. Another way to extend the lifespan of a breaker box is to “exercise” it once a year by flipping each breaker on and off three times.

Breaker boxes provide power for your comfort and convenience. Maintenance and constant attention ensures the breaker box runs efficiently. At Whites Electrical, we are a team of highly trained electricians who can answer any questions and service all residential or commercial project. Contact us today to set up an appointment to have your home powered efficiently today.