We are living in a sober house and have come across a weird complication and a few of us that have no clue on the electrical field but do have wits to fix simple things. The 3rd floor recently had a power outage which a week prior to that we kept on having to run down stairs to flip a tripped breaker. I thought I had fixed the problem when I moved to an empty room that was on a different circuit(2 of us had window AC unit which kept tripping the breaker. Everything was good for about a week and I woke up one morning to find out one of my outlets wasn't working and that the entire rest of the 3rd floor had no power. Breaker box is fine. The owner tested it with a voltage tester and everything has power. Today I went down to the basement to investigate the issue further (we now have extension cords running this way and that way...lol) I came across the g.f.c.i. box which was labeled 3rd floor/bathroom. I will not touch anything unless I know what I'm doing but I'm curious on what anybody's thoughts might be to what is causing this power outage. Trying to live a sober life through addiction is NOT an easy road. We all would like to get the issue fixed to get back on track of fighting this fight we are in. Any one have an idea as to what would be the problem. Thanks to everyone who read. Have a great day.

  • Did you try resetting the GFCI ?
    – JACK
    Aug 28, 2021 at 13:58
  • What is the actual relevance of all the 'sober' stuff? Aug 28, 2021 at 14:43
  • I modified the title of the question to better reflect the topic
    – jay613
    Aug 28, 2021 at 14:56
  • @MichaelHarvey -- it's a group home environment Aug 28, 2021 at 15:18
  • 2
    ...which for our purposes means, the homeowner can't do the electrical work, and any screwdriver-twisting work must be done by a pro electrician, unless both owner and city hall authorize "trivial" repairs such as replacing receptacles. Aug 28, 2021 at 19:50

2 Answers 2


It sounds like your A/Cs are too big for the available circuits and/or they are tripping the GFCIs. Either way, you should stop using these A/Cs and do not rely on repeatedly resetting tripped breakers.

It's better not to use A/Cs with GFCI outlets or with extension cords.

Some possible solutions:

  • Ask the owner to hire an electrician to install new circuits and outlets for the air conditioners.
  • Turn off all lights and other electrical devices on the third floor and only use one air conditioner. This may or may not help but it costs nothing to try.
  • Buy smaller air conditioners. This may or may not help, and it's a big gamble.
  • Use fans instead of air conditioners. Fans that work will cool you better than A/Cs that shut down the whole floor.
  • I appreciate the input. This is a sober house for each of the 4 rooms on the 3rd floor are rented (170 a weekper room). Each individual is responsible for their own room and this house has no a.c.. We have to purchase our own air conditioners ($15.00 xtra a week). So each room is like individuals apartments. The owner is not to keen on fixing things quick as it's been two weeks and we are still to see an electrician. It was my curiosity that made me ask the question above. Thank you for responding.
    – Adam Royer
    Aug 29, 2021 at 16:26
  • 1
    If you are renting the A/Cs weekly ask the supplier if they have smaller ones. And if you are renting them from the owner of the house he should be responsible for making them safe and functional.
    – jay613
    Aug 29, 2021 at 20:41
  • @AdamRoyer if the property owner is not responding to electrical issues, it might be time to get the authorities involved. I'm not 100% certain who you'd contact in this case, but landlords are required to maintain livable standards, and I'd think that power outages for reasonable uses wouldn't be considered livable. Also, congrats on getting sober and staying sober! It won't be an easy road, but it'll be worth it!
    – FreeMan
    Aug 30, 2021 at 15:00

You probably shouldn't do the "sparky parts" of the job. However, there is a lot of legwork that you absolutely can do, that will make the job go much faster for the person who actually does it.

First, identify your circuits

You know there are some circuit breakers. Identify each circuit breaker with a name or something (Thor, Odin, Freya, that kind of thing) and then label each of the outlets that is powered from that breaker. I like labeling the breaker itself, so if it is moved around, the name sticks.

You know which one you have been resetting. And you know what else was on that circuit. So you should have some luck identifying the now-dead ones.

So label each outlet and light by which breaker it is on.

Now, figure out all the outlets on the dead circuit

My guess is some of the outlets are dead, yet others are still working.

What usually happens in cases like this is a burn-out of a wire connection at an outlet - usually circuits are in strings (hidden behind the walls), and it'll be at the last working outlet or the first "out" one.

The repair is usually as simple as re-seating or repairing connections on the faulty one. Of course, finding the bad one is the trick.

"Back Stab" connections, where the wire is simply jabbed into a hole in the back of the outlet, is the most common culprit. Those connections are legal, but are not very good. Fortunately, they usually fail like this, not in fiery flame.

Cars have computers in them now. I have a saying: "Replacing a car computer is a very expensive way to reset a car computer". This saying has a corollary: Replacing a receptacle is a very cheap way to re-do all the connections at a receptacle.

That's because receptacles and switches cost $3 for the good ones.

And people replace them all the time for aesthetic reasons. There can be many tricks to it, but by and large, receptacle swaps are "handyman work".

Because of this, city permit offices and landlords will often allow simple replacement of receptacles by non-electricians.

Now let's talk about those air conditioners.

I am shopping for a window A/C right now. It's unbelievable how much more efficient the new units are.

I have seen 6000 BTU units that draw 4 amps of power when running normally. 4 amps!

You know perfectly well how many amps the circuit allows; it's written on the handle you keep resetting. (15 or 20 typically).

Obviously the circuit has to be able to power everything on it, including computers, laser printers, de/humidifiers and a host of other things. But you recently mapped the circuit, so you know what all that stuff is.

Now you need to look at the nameplates of anything that makes heat, and figure out how many "amps" each one draws.

Make sure all the loads will fit on the circuit (in terms of amps).

And use those new, efficient air conditioners to help hit the number!

  • Note that "anything that makes heat" doesn't mean "heaters", it means anything that's plugged in and uses electricity. (No electrical device is 100% efficient - the byproduct of that inefficiency is heat.)
    – FreeMan
    Aug 30, 2021 at 14:57

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