At times my thermostat in another room, oven, clothes washer, dishwasher, and two outlets in the kitchen go out for no apparent reason. The breakers don't trip. The GFI receptacle doesnt trip. We have a coffee pot plugged into one outlet, and humidifier plugged into the other. An electrician was out when the power came back on and could not figure out why the power goes out. He said he would have to see it when the power was out.

Could the problem be a result of a daisy chain? One half of the receptacle do not work right. How do I fix it if that is the problem? enter image description here enter image description here


4 Answers 4


With both 240 and 120v devices having a problem I would first call the power company and report the problem to them. Usually they will preform a service safety inspection for free (they don’t want a fire in their gear). Then I would check the type of panel there 2 brands known to have these problems the first is federal pacific (FPE) the stablock model of breaker is known to fail (to the point I will only remove them). The other is zinsco , I haven’t seen the extent of problem on these but others have reported.

If neither of these brands one thing I will do is turn all the small breakers off, then cycle the main breaker on and off 10-20 times. This cycling the main breaker can clean carbon off the hammers in the breakers and reseat them For a temporary fix.

If you feel comfortable remove the dead face or front cover from the panel and look at the main feeds looking for overheating damage (I would expect your electrician at least did this).

Providing us with a photo of the panel and model number we may come up with additional possibilities if the utility comes up with nothing, but most of these failures I have seen have been on the utility side other than a few main breaker problems or rule of 6 “main” for the lower section.

  • Should probably make clear that if it is one of the problem brands then cycling breakers is something you do not want to do! Dec 16, 2019 at 18:52
  • I've had the electric company out and they stated their was no issue on their side. The electrician removed the panel and their was no overheating.
    – JCH
    Dec 16, 2019 at 19:19
  • The utility company was out and said it wasnt on their end. The electrician did open the face and saw no evidence of overheating. The panel is a square d. Im working on uploaded a couple of photos.
    – JCH
    Dec 16, 2019 at 19:31
  • 1
    With square d try the “main cycling” as I suggested. I have had a single leg in a square d fail not often but it happens. Don’t do it with the branch circuit breakers turned on , this can cause faster failure. If it is a rule of 6 one breaker that feeds a lower section the breaker that feeds the lower are could have problems or the buss connection, but with the lower breakers off then cycling the breaker and see if this clears things up for a while. Using a thermal camera can spot the hot spot while under load.
    – Ed Beal
    Dec 16, 2019 at 19:42

A circuit is defined as a circuit breaker (often a double breaker with tied handles) and all the outlets and hardwired devices that it controls, i.e. that lose power if you switch it off.

Obviously, some circuits are failing, and whole circuits are failing at the same time (that is, all the outlets/devices on the circuit at once).

So I need you to identify the failing ones. Often if your panel is properly labeled as required by law, this won't be too hard.

Cut up some Post-It notes to make flags, and stick the flags on the breakers that are failing. Then, shoot us a photo of the panel face. Also if possible the label that describes the make/model/instructions of the panel, and the breaker labeling chart if any.

Do this before you call in an electrician. This may be free to fix.

What I want to see is if all the failing breakers fall into a pattern that looks

If it does follow this pattern, then this is almost certainly a power outage from the power company. This is what power outages look like. "Why doesn't the power fail completely? Because in North America, power is delivered as 3 wires. Typically 1 wire fails. 2/3 chance it knocks out half your panel. 1/3 chance it causes a floating neutral which makes your voltages go bananas.


Did the Utility actually open your meter and check the connections? A thing that has been happening a lot lately is that when they come out and plug in the new "smart" meters, the act of unplugging the old electro-mechanical meter and plugging in the new one exposes some previously minor corrosion or spring tension weaknesses that then become worse with the new meter. I've seen it 3 times in the last year. The symptoms leading up to the discoveries were exactly as you described in all 3 cases.


Everything you are describing points toward a bad 120v leg on your 240v single phase service. Most likely up at the pole, mast, or at the service panel. Either way you will need to call your utility company to come check it for you and visually inspect all those connections and perhaps do a load test.

If every 240v device goes out but some 120v circuits still work then its almost always a bad connection at the service or pole on one leg of power. this is why NONE of the 240v circuits work... because none of them are getting both legs of power.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge that you have read and understand our privacy policy and code of conduct.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.