Electrical Repair Questions? Ask an Electrician for Answers ASAP
Hello. Welcome to Just Answer.
I doubt this is an appliance issue, since so many things are not operating properly at the same time.
This problem will require the use of a 2 lead volt meter for troubleshooting purposes.
Do you have one? If not, can you get one?
As a side note, I would turn off anything that isn't operating properly, as undervoltage can damage equipment.
That would be great. Do you have it handy, or do you need to leave and come back?
Just a thought, is there a possibility a neighbor would have one you could borrow?
Lowe's is a good place to buy a meter. If you would like me to do so, I can post a link for a suggested model. Once you get the meter, I'll walk you through the troubleshooting steps. Does that work for you?
Yes, that is good information.
It's currently 9:17 AM at my location. Do you know when you will return?
If any of the malfunctioning equipment is fed through a GFI outlet, that could be the culprit for that particular circuit. However, this sounds like an issue with a main breaker, or a problem with the utility company's feed to your house. If you don't mind returning a GFI outlet that you end up not using, it may not hurt to grab one or two. I doubt you'll need them, but there's a possibility it could save you a trip back to the store to get them if you do end up needing them.
Are you comfortable working in a live electrical panel? We'll need to get some readings there.
Very good. Here's a meter that would be perfect for what you need to do. I like this because of the price, and what's included in the kit...http://www.lowes.com/ProductDisplay?partNumber=205783-72068-TK-30&catalogId=10051&storeId=10151&langId=-1&productId=1058561
If you tell me your Zip Code, I can tell you whether your local Lowe's has it in stock or not.
OK, I'll check now. One moment please...
OK. Should I check for you at 10:30?
It would be best if you have the meter in hand. To get back to this chat, log on to www.justanswer.com, and click "My Questions" in the upper right corner of the page. That should take you to a page that has a link to this chat. In case I need to see the inside of your breaker panel, are you able to post photos here?
Sounds good. I'll make sure I'm back at my computer in an hour. In the meantime, I'll sign off to try to get a little bit done around here.
I'll look for you in an hour. Thank you.
No problem. Just reply when ready, and I'll keep an eye out for you.
You can get any meter that reads volts and Ohms. If it says "multimeter", it should be fine.
You really don't need the 3 piece kit. I just suggested that one because of the price, and what's included.
I'm sure it will. Let me check it out. One moment...
Have you done anything with it yet?
Are you back at the site with the problem?
OK, if you want to check one thing now, you can. Or, you can wait until you get to the site. I need to know if it does anything when you touch the two probes to each other.
I prefer a meter that displays a numeric value. In other words, a digital readout. But we can probably get by with the Klein.
If you have a loose connection, that should show up as an undervoltage, and I don't know if the Klein model will show that. This is because it has preset voltage values that light up when detected.
Anything with two leads and a digital display should work. I'll check their site and see if I can suggest something.
Let me see if I can find that. Just a moment...
It looks okay to me. The price is a little higher than it likely should be, and it didn't get great reviews. Since it's open, are they going to give you a discount?
I'll keep checking for replies. Lots going on here today.
Very good. Can you take the meter to a working outlet, and put one probe into each of the vertical slots? Make sure it's set for AC Volts first, and tell me the reading you get.
Judging by the images I've been able to find Online, the AC Volts setting is the one immediately to the right of the OFF position.
Yikes. OK, I hope it works. Seems this isn't going in your favor so far. Hopefully, I can help change that.
That's less than one volt. For a working outlet, there must not be good contact on at least one of the probes. Maybe we should just start on the breaker panel.
Can you take the cover off and let me know when you're ready?
Does the meter have "AC" displayed in the window?
It could be a ranging issue, because we are looking for a value around 120.
I don't see a range button, and it says "Autoranging" below the dial.
was in a working outlet?
Perfect. That's what we're looking for.
Is that a standard outlet?
OK. What configuration are the two slots in? Are they both vertical? Is the AC working properly?
OK. O would now proceed to the breaker panel and take the cover off.
"I" would, rather...
Bathroom reading is good.
In the breaker panel, we will be reading across the two mains. We'll be looking for a voltage in the 240 range.
OK. Can you follow the two largest wires in the panel, from where they enter to where they connect?
It may be a main breaker, or, it could just be two large lugs.
That probably means there's a main disconnect outside, near the meter.
That's okay. We can still take the reading in the indoor panel.
We may have to go there next. Yes, exactly. Take the reading by placing one probe on each of the large lugs. There should be a third wire that size, that connects to the neutral lug. All of the smaller white wires are connected to that bar. We may read that wire next.
Just what I suspected. Sounds like a dead main leg.
Do you see the third large wire... the main neutral?
If it's old, yes.
You can actually read from each of the hot mains to the bare wire or the main neutral. If everything were functioning normally, reading from either live main to the bare or the main neutral would give you the same reading. I would put one probe on one of the hot mains, and one on the main neutral. Then, move from the first hot main to the second, keeping the other probe on the main neutral.
OK, the right main appears to be dead. I would go outside to the other main disconnect now. Is it a breaker, or fuses? Have you noticed whether any neighbors are without power, or operating on partial power?
One moment please.
Are you able to post photos?
How many screw terminals does the breaker have? I know you said it has 4 wires, but how many screws?
Is this breaker outside? Not the first panel we were checking in?
If you see two screws near the double breaker that says 100, or ON that breaker rather... that's where you need to place the meter probes. One probe on each screw.
It'll be a bit tricky trying to troubleshoot in that box, since I can't see it. But it's starting to sound like you need to call the utility company anyway.
If the problem is in the meter base, even though I know how to troubleshoot in there, you're not supposed to open it. Many utility companies get upset when consumers open the meter base. It's also pretty dangerous in there.
If you look at how the breaker snaps into that box, you may see other large wires that connect to lugs, similar to the indoor panel. Do you see those two large wires?
Tell them there appears to be a dead leg, and none of the 240 volt equipment is working.
You are most welcome. Happy to assist. Have a blessed weekend.
Yes, if you've found my service helpful.
Thank you. I appreciate that.
You do the same.