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I broke my apartment
May 2, 2014 7:21 PM   Subscribe

I seem to have blown a fuse or tripped a circuit or invoked an ancient curse in my apartment. One of those things for sure. How can I get the power back on?

So my apartment has never had electricity problems before. Tonight it was really cold in my living room because my landlord recently shut off the heat for the season. I plugged in a little space heater and was watching TV when POP, the space heater and my television turned off. Now I can't get them to come back on! Help!

I opened the circuit box and none of the switches had flipped. I turned them all to the off position and then back on, hoping to reboot or something, but it didn't work. The rest of the lights in the livingroom and rest of apatment are fine. It's just the sockets along one side (that power my television and roku). I know not to plug the space heater back in. I just want my TV back!

Any suggestions? I would really, really like to avoid bothering my landlord. I know I can fix this by myself!
posted by silverstatue to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Is there a GFCI outlet on the opposite side of the wall where the outlet you plugged the TV into? Check to see if it's tripped; the outlets in the living room may be wired to the same circuit.
posted by coldhotel at 7:27 PM on May 2


There's one on an adjacent wall. I pushed the reset button. Nothing happened.
posted by silverstatue at 7:36 PM on May 2


This might be a too-obvious thing, but are any of the other apartments having power loss? It might not have been you, or the wiring that was affected is actually part of another circuit.

This happened to me recently, it turns out my building has three different sections for power and only one of them was broken, causing one wall of my place, and every unit above and below that wall, to go dark.
posted by Mizu at 7:38 PM on May 2


If you have a volt meter, take panel cover off and check if all the breakers are reading 120 volts. If they are the problem is not in the panel. If the breaker is not reading any voltage it either needs to be reset or replaced. Flip the breaker off HARD then back on to reset the breaker.
posted by Hoosier Prospector at 7:44 PM on May 2


I live in a two family house. It's me on the bottom floor and my landlord on the top floors. The circuit boxes are on my floor, so if they were having any problems too, they would definitely be in the hallway checking out the circuits.

It was right when I turned on the space heater, so I'm pretty certain that was the culprit.

Hoosier, I definitely do not have a volt meter. :(
posted by silverstatue at 7:45 PM on May 2


They're not plugged into a power strip, are they? I've had power strips switch off when I was drawing too much power from them (usually a microwave and a toaster oven at the same time).
posted by WasabiFlux at 7:48 PM on May 2


Also, check ALL the outlets in the house to see if any of them are GFI and may have been tripped. There's no accounting for the logic people use when they do wiring.
posted by HuronBob at 7:49 PM on May 2


And..do you have an extension cord you could run from another outlet to the TV and the roku box? A temporary fix...
posted by HuronBob at 7:51 PM on May 2


The circuit boxes are on my floor, so if they were having any problems too, they would definitely be in the hallway checking out the circuits.

Only if they have noticed. Check their box also for the blown circuit.
posted by Pogo_Fuzzybutt at 7:55 PM on May 2


So here's something I've discovered. When I push the reset button on the bathroom GFI socket, it blinks green. When I push the reset button on the kitchen GFI socket, it blinks yellow. When I push it on the not working socket, nothing happens.

(Both the bathroom and kitchen ones are working fine.)

I'm so confused.
posted by silverstatue at 8:04 PM on May 2


"Fixing it yourself" is basically never a thing you should entertain with electricity unless you are really sure you know what you're doing. This is what having a landlord is for. Call your landlord.
posted by Sequence at 8:34 PM on May 2 [1 favorite]


Have you checked to make sure all your circuits aren't tripped -- including the one at the very top, above the rest? (Such as in this image?) Whenever I trip my circuit using my hairdryer in the spare bathroom, I always forget about those two top circuits (one of which is the culprit) and only look for any tripped circuits in the lower section. If this suggestion is a bust, then yes... My vote is to call the landlords. Afterall, that's why you have 'em. Good luck!
posted by Cat Face at 8:49 PM on May 2


silverstatue: "So here's something I've discovered. When I push the reset button on the bathroom GFI socket, it blinks green. When I push the reset button on the kitchen GFI socket, it blinks yellow. When I push it on the not working socket, nothing happens.
"

This is normal. There isn't any set standard for what colour the light has to be (or even how it operates, some GFCIs are lit when tripped). And you would have no light on a circuit whose breaker has tripped regardless of the GFCI status.

At any rate it sounds like you blew something out and you should get an electrician in to check it (or rather your landlord should). The breaker might be defective, the wire connection at the socket might have blown out, or some other weirdness in the wiring is preventing power from reaching your devices.
posted by Mitheral at 12:26 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


FYI, your landlord almost certainly doesn't want you to (a) try to fix this yourself, or (b) hire an electrician behind their back. If there is something wrong with the electrics, your landlord would want to know. You're not doing them any favors by hiding it from them.
posted by ryanrs at 1:14 AM on May 3


One of the advantages of renting is that you don't have to fix this shit yourself. Call your landlord.
posted by empath at 3:14 AM on May 3


Call the land lord to fix it, and in the mean time do not use an extension cord with the space heater, they draw too much power.
posted by TheAdamist at 3:32 AM on May 3


Mitheral has it right. He is an electrician.

At this point, you have done all you can do with limited knowledge. You need someone who understands how to trouble-shoot an electrical circuit now. Time to call the landlord.

While there is no way to tell exactly what happened, it is likely not that big of a deal. Someone with knowledge could likely trouble-shot and correct this in under an hour, and with minimal material costs.

As a landlord and an electrician myself, I would tell you not to sweat it too much. It happens. This is not that big of a deal, your landlord should be cool about it (unless your landlord is total jerk).
posted by Flood at 4:34 AM on May 3 [1 favorite]


I've had problems with the GFI in my bathroom requiring some sort of sorcery to get it to flip back. The relevant switch has to be in the off position (or was it the on position?) for it to reset, and you have to push the button REALLY HARD or it doesn't work. YMMV.
posted by Andrhia at 6:23 AM on May 3


Thanks everyone for your help and advice. I guess I will call the landlord. He's really nice and I'm sure he'll fix it right away. I just hate being an annoying tenant. I suspect, as Andrhia said, some sorcery is needed to fix this.
posted by silverstatue at 6:36 AM on May 3


I turned them all to the off position and then back on, hoping to reboot or something, but it didn't work.

Did you flip the switch to the reset position, or just to the "off" position?

At least with my breakers, there's a position beyond the "off" step. When my breakers trip, they snap to the "off" step. To reset, you have to push the switch further to the right, then push the switch all the way back over to "on".

FWIW, I've had breakers trip, but didn't appear fully tripped when inspected. But, resetting them worked.
posted by Thorzdad at 7:06 AM on May 3


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