lights flickering,temporary power loss last few weeks. Scheduled main meter panel upgrade in a few days. This am half of house lost power w/o breakers tripping? Can the old meter panel wear out the newer breakers and disable the tripping? Getting nervous.. Again scheduled main meter panel upgrade this Friday but very nervous til then..thanks!

  • What make and model is/was the existing main meter panel? This could be a bad connection there, but the more likely candidate is a failing service drop, which you'll need the power company to check on anyway... Mar 10, 2021 at 0:02
  • Unicorn panel and zinsco breakers in main..
    – Peter
    Mar 10, 2021 at 5:27
  • 1
    @Peter Holy smokes, yeah definitely replace that when practicable. It still sounds like a power company issue that is unrelated, but at least that created some momentum toward getting this panel addressed. Mar 10, 2021 at 16:54

2 Answers 2


Call your power company and report an outage

There's a logical hazard called "target fixation". You are focused on panel and breakers, because you have deemed the existing panel to be "old" and have already bet several thousand dollars on a panel replacement. You haven't identified the panel, but I seriously doubt that's it.

Your symptoms sound like a very classic problem on the supply side, and 95% of the time this is in the power company's wiring between the pole and your weatherhead, which the power company is responsible for and fixes for free. That is a carrier wire which doubles as the neutral supply, and two insulated hot wires. Those whip in the wind for years, and eventually, break.

  • If a hot wire breaks, power on one half of the circuit will be weak and weird (it's leaking backwards through the water heater, range, etc. The best tests are: a) if you turn on range and dryer, the power improves on the wacky circuits. b) If you shut off all 240V breakers in the panel, the wacky circuits die entirely.

  • If a neutral wire breaks, then both legs of power will function but with bizarre voltages, and half your circuits will get a voltage well over target 120V. In this case it is urgent you shut off all 120V loads at once - the equipment can take damage if you don't!

The power company will fix both problems for free, PDQ, on a Sunday night. Call them and report an outage. Do not complicate your story by editorializing about how it "sorta works" or how "you're replacing your panel". We have had reports of power company phone reps using such admissions to "blame-shift" the problem back onto the consumer to avoid rolling a truck.

... And if the truck roll fixes it, add photos of your panel and we can tell you whether a a panel replacement is a waste of money. There's nothing wrong with "old" if it's the right "old"....

  • 1
    Hey look, it's the lost neutral guy again
    – user253751
    Mar 10, 2021 at 9:32

Sounds like you have some bad connections.

That won't "wear out" or "disable tripping" on the newer panel.

It might burn your house down, though. "Half the house lost power" is typical of a failed wire connection, and breakers won't trip if there's no power coming to or through them, which is likely what happened there.

Burning the house down is a real danger - if connections are so bad, you could have arcing at the bad connections, and that could start a fire. If the bad connection is in a panel attached to your house, rather than out at the power pole, that could set your house on fire. It might be best to go a few days without power until the bad panel is replaced. Then again, you might be able to get your service call upgraded to an emergency replacement, sooner than Friday.

  • Agree with Ecnerwal completely other than a fire isn't all that likely, possible, but the connections are made inside a metal box (your meter base or main panel) and there's a reason for that: " To prevent fires". But like Ecnerwal said, it IS a possibility. This is serious problem. Minimize power use to the extent possible. What type of heat do you have? Range type? WH type? Mar 9, 2021 at 14:42
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    Yes, completely agreed. If it were me, I'd shut off the main breaker until Friday (staying at a hotel if necessary), because loose connections on the main service drop are no joke.
    – Nate S.
    Mar 9, 2021 at 16:52
  • thank you very much.no where to go w wife 5 kids..will be careful til Friday..
    – Peter
    Mar 10, 2021 at 5:31

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