Power Problems

Power ProblemsTable of Contents


No Power At All

If your entire building is out of power, it is probably for one of the following reasons:

  1. There is no flow of electricity from the utility company to your electrical panel. Contact your electrical company.
  2. There is no power flowing to anyone in your area’s electrical panel. You will need to wait for the utility company to restore power.
  3. Check your main circuit breaker. Reset it if you can.
  4. All of your breakers have been tripped. Try resetting all of your breakers.
  5. Something else is causing the problem. Call an electrician.

Short Circuits

When two hot electrical wires touch each other, it will cause a short circuit. This will result in your circuit breaker tripping off immediately.

The best way to solve this problem is to look into what happened immediately before the short. If something new was plugged into an outlet, then it may have caused the short.

Determine what may have been plugged in immediately before the problem and plug it back in. Reset your circuit and see if the power has returned. If this fixes the problem, then you should probably replace that item.

If there is no apparent cause of the problem, then you will need to talk with an experienced electrician about what may be causing the problem.

Tripped Circuit Breakers

Although your circuit breaker appears to be in the on position, it may have tripped internally. When this happens, the breaker will cut power to the circuit without flipping to the off position.

If you believe that you have a tripped circuit, follow these steps:

  1. Turn off any computers that may experience data loss.
  2. Return to your breaker panel and flip the first breaker off. Flip the breaker back on.
  3. Do this with the remaining breakers in your electrical panel.
  4. Return to where you lost power and see if it has returned.
  5. If power is restored, then your job is done. If not, then you will need to call an electrician.

By following these simple steps, you can solve up to 25% of all electrical problems.

GFI Outlets

GFI outlets are most commonly used in areas that are exposed to water, such as the kitchen, bathroom, garage or outdoors. Whenever an electrical problem is detected, a GFI outlet is designed to shut off power to the outlet. This safety feature is very important for these areas.

After losing power in one of these areas, the best thing to do is check to see if you are plugged into a GFI outlet. If you are, then you can reset the outlet by pressing the test button followed by the reset button. If the problem keeps happening, then you will need to figure out whether it is your appliance or the outlet itself. If the outlet is causing the problem, then you will need to have it tested by an electrician.

TIP: In some cases, you may lose power in one of these areas to an outlet that does not appear to be a GFI outlet. Even though the outlet itself is not a GFI, it may be connected to a nearby GFI outlet. Check all of the GFI outlets nearby to see if one of them has tripped.

More About GFIs

GFI outlets are equipped with sensors that can detect differences in power as small as 3ma. When more power is detected coming in than is going out, for example, the outlet will shut off the power. This provides great protection for you and your family from electrical shock.

It is important to check your GFI outlets at least once a month. To do this, press the TEST button. This should make the RESET button pop out. If it does not pop out, then contact an electrician. If it does pop out, then push it back in. Everything is operational.

Switch-Controlled Outlets

Many homes and businesses use outlets that are controlled by wall switches. This gives you the option of controlling that outlet through the switch rather than at the outlet itself.

To restore power to a powerless device, try turning on all of the switches in a room. If this causes your device to power on, then the outlet is most likely controlled by a switch.

In many cases, one outlet in a two-plug receptacle will be wired to a switch while the other remains permanently energized. These “half-hot” outlets give you more versatility.