Lights are flickering, vacuum barely works.. I unplugged water heater and all my lights went out..plugged it back in and boom lights are back on.. If multiple circuits are malfunctioning shouldnt this be a ground break.. I crawled through atic and was shocked by a gas line that is dead.. All appliances are electric now.. Im on a budget and need help.. None of my space heaters work.. I moved into this house a month ago and everything worked properly this happened during the night woke up to electrical chaos

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    Check your coltage in many receptacles. If some are 120 and others are less, you lost a hot service wire, and this is a call the power company and report an outage and they should send someone for free. If some are less and others more than 120, yet they add up to 240V, then you lost your neutral!! This is much more dangerous! Shut off the main and unplug anything you care about, and call the power company and report an outage urgently! Good news, if a lost neutral you can still use 240V-only loads like electric heaters and water heaters. Feb 6, 2018 at 18:40
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    True on 240v stuff but turn off all the 120v breakers or you may have smoked a lot of electronic devices.
    – Ed Beal
    Feb 6, 2018 at 19:35
  • @Harper sounds like an answer...
    – mmathis
    Feb 6, 2018 at 21:38
  • Get a wall socket tester from any big box hardware store. They cost about 5$. There are 3 led lights which will tell you what the problem is on each socket you test. Feb 9, 2018 at 2:50

1 Answer 1


Call your power company and report an outage

When half your 120V circuits are dead and half work -- and the dead half comes back on when you turn on an oven or water heater or dryer (but those things don't work) -- that means one of your hot wires has failed coming from the power company. It also may be a problem with the main buses or main breaker.

Now, if your 240V loads like water heater work fine, but lights alternate between too-dim and too-bright/burning out, that's a more serious problem - yes, more serious than an outage. It is a lost neutral, and it will cause your 120V loads to wobble above and below 120V, which can fry appliances and potentially cause a fire.

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