I have had some transient problems with the circuits in my house. About half of my circuits to several locations have a tendency to cause lights in the affected circuits (yes multiple circuits) to go out, but not trip breakers. It happens seemingly at random and affects washer, dryer, central air kitchen appliances, but not refrigerator. What is weird is that turning on the ceramic cook top almost always sends it into 'remission'. I spent over $350 for a licensed electrician to troubleshoot my wiring. He told me that I had no earth or cold water grounding. I grounded the ground/neutral bar in the panel to a copper clad rod outside the house 8 feet deep in sand and to a cold water copper line. I tightened the ground feeder to the main breaker. it was a bit loose. Can't tell about the other two feeder wires because I'm not suicidal with metal hex sockets. The transients are STILL happening. I'll call the electrician again because he should have checked those lugs. and the electric company says their end is all hunky dory. Is there anything else to check? I am not an electrician.

(Edit)I was able to observe the panel during a transient. Some rock wool insulation had fallen on the main 200 amp breaker. There IS arcing on the buss bar behind it. Ya'll were were right and i will likely have to replace the whole darned thing. Found reference here to my problem. http://www.diychatroom.com/f18/200-amp-main-throw-arcing-168804/ Thanks to all. enter image description here

  • Can you log voltage on an affected circuit when this is happening? Commented May 27, 2016 at 3:18
  • What do you mean when you say the lights "go out"? Do the bulbs fail? Or is power lost? Commented May 27, 2016 at 11:12
  • Also, can you post photos of the breaker panel? Commented May 28, 2016 at 0:45

2 Answers 2


Get a different electrician and/or make your power company come back. It sounds like your losing one leg of your service.

The reason your cooktop control sends it into remission now is that it starts by backfeeding the bad side of your service which heats up the connector that is burning. The heat (or arc) acts as a temporary weld that makes it work again. For awhile.

The next thing to happen will be that the heat control on your cooktop just acts like a really big dimmer switch for all the circuits that go off when your issue occurs.

Yes, fire is a possibility but it will likely be contained to your meter can or breaker box (possibly a pole or underground connection).


If the lugs are tight on the main the next place to look would be the main breaker since several circuits are having problems. If it is a split buss the breaker feeding that section. What type of panel ? the brand. We have seen a lot of Federal Pacific questions lately and they can be bad news. I did have a Square D main that had a bad hammer in the main. I would flip it on and off 10 times and it would work for a while but I did have to change that panel out because the main was not replaceable.

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