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I bought a treadmill and 50% of the time I turn it on, it cuts the power to the circuit for the whole basement. Interestingly, the power comes back on by itself after about a minute. I also checked the breaker and it does not look triggered, in fact, if I turn it off and on again it does not always reset, only time will do it.

I tried to isolate the problem connecting the treadmill to another circuit using an extension to upstairs. Against all odds, it also triggers the issue at the basement circuit, and to my surprise, not in the upstairs circuit. So the treadmill is the only thing that has power in the basement during the short "outage".

I am running out of ideas about what may be happening. I suspect that I may have a defective circuit breaker that is being triggered by RF or a surge in the net. Does it make sense? I am not sure if there is a GFCI breaker for that circuit that may also causing that.

Update: I noticed that it happens to other equipments too. Today I connected my vacuum and the power went down again. However, I noticed that if I hit the breaker box with a punch it come back on. I suspect now that there is a loose connection to the basement circuit breaker, or the breaker is faulty.

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  • what kind of treadmill, do you have any kind of smart switches
    – Ruskes
    Sep 2 at 7:23
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    Sounds like a loose connection that is affected by heat(in circuit). Can be dangerous(fire), The whole circuit will need to be checked.
    – crip659
    Sep 2 at 9:59
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    What wattage is the treadmill (i.e. how much current is it likely to draw)? You need to make sure that the wiring in your walls can support that current draw. It's also possible that the treadmill itself is faulty and drawing more than its design current. Sep 2 at 10:21
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    Are you 100% certain that the outlet upstairs is on a different circuit breaker from the one downstairs? Wiring can connect outlets/switches in unexpected ways and still be 100% code legal. Also, while circuit breakers can fail, that would, most likely, be the last possibility on the list (depending on what panel you have - some are know for frequent failures). A picture of the label(s) on the inside of your panel will help clarify that.
    – FreeMan
    Sep 2 at 12:07
  • @Ruskes No smart switches.
    – Adriel Jr
    Sep 2 at 13:03

2 Answers 2

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It sounds like a faulty wire connection. Those are BAD.

Faulty connections are a recipe for house fires. While it may simply interrupt power now, it has a much more dangerous failure mode where it lets power through, but arcs as it does. This arcing creates a great deal of heat, which then starts a fire.

The problem is almost certainly at a wire end, which by Code is required to be in an accessible junction box. Junction boxes are supposed to contain such arcing fires, but they have their limits. Especially if they are plastic.

The cure for this is to first, identify circuits. You do that by turning off a breaker and seeing what loses power. It never hurts to actually label things.

Now you know which circuit the treadmill is on, and you can identify all other outlets, switches and lights also on that circuit. Now you can open them all up and look for bad connections.

The #1 reason is "backstabs" - where the wire is jabbed into a hole in the back of the outlet instead of wrapped around the side screw in a proper J-hook. See Youtube for how to do this properly.

The #2 reason (and the science only recently came in on this) is that when using screws, torque matters and even pro electricians can't set torques "by feel". As such NEC 110.14 now requires use of a torque screwdriver anywhere a torque is specified. Most people find the correct torque to be Very Tight, too much for a Philips head even.

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  • I noticed that If it happens with other equipments too. Today I connected my vacuum and the power went down again. However, I noticed that if I hit the breaker box with a punch it come back on. I suspect now that there is a loose connection to the basement circuit breaker, or the breaker is faulty.
    – Adriel Jr
    Sep 3 at 21:12
  • @AdrielJr It could also be a loose connection on the neutral bar. NEC 110.14 requires you torque both the breaker screw and the neutral bar screw to the spec stated on the panel labeling or breaker. This is the least of what happens when you don't. Unfortunately this is a recent requirement and many pros and almost all DIYers did not do this. Sep 4 at 2:33
  • I found the issue... it was a loose connection I think in the wire leaving the breaker. I think it was never screwed properly since they built the house. The wire was a little burned from the arcing.
    – Adriel Jr
    Sep 4 at 18:23
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    @AdrielJr yeah, that's typical. Sep 4 at 19:24
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I had the same issue with a microwave. It turned out to be a loose connection in an outlet upstream from the one the micro was plugged into. As Crip659 has said this can be a fire hazard. It may be time to call a professional.

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