How to get electricity back?
August 27, 2006 5:47 AM   Subscribe

The power in our downstairs is out but there are no breakers in the fuse panel showing red. Can any electricians out there 'shed some light' (groan....) ????

Last night my son flicked on the light switch and 'it shot a blue spark' and then all the power (outlets and light switches) went dead in the downstairs room we have. Went to the fuse panel to flip the breaker and none of them were broken/tripped. How can this be? Couple of things may or may not be important: it had just started to rain outside; we are in cottage country north of the city (Toronto) where the trades have been known to cut corners once in a while (shoddy workmanship??); this has never happened before. What do I need to check first before calling in an electrican ($$$) ???
posted by pman78 to Home & Garden (11 answers total)
Sounds like a GFCI outlet has tripped. This happened to me when water got in the walls downstairs. Look for an outlet that looks like this and push the reset button. Usually found in bathrooms or kitchens near water. Also used for outdoor outlets.
posted by RussHy at 5:55 AM on August 27, 2006

Thx RussHy; thought of that too, but there are no GFCI's in the downstairs
posted by pman78 at 6:05 AM on August 27, 2006

Could be the switch failed. Is it the only thing that turns on power to the things in the downstairs room that aren't working? If the workmanship is shoddy, it could be that a wire for that circuit came loose or melted. If it's not up to code then it's harder to guess what's wrong.
posted by cardboard at 6:13 AM on August 27, 2006

thnx cardboard: both the switch and the outlets are out of order. they are not connected ie; the switch doens't control the outlet...wire melting or some kind of animal that chewed through wires under the cottage may be the next thing to look for ???
posted by pman78 at 6:31 AM on August 27, 2006

Did you try flipping the breakers on and off anyway? In my old house we could blow a circuit and the breakers would all LOOK ok but one would actually be tripped. It's quick and worth a try.
posted by Captain_Science at 6:53 AM on August 27, 2006

similar Ask MeFi where problem may be corrosion.
posted by MonkeySaltedNuts at 8:01 AM on August 27, 2006

I'm with Captain Science. Flip the breaker back and forth anyway. Exact same thing happened to me about a month ago. If your breakers aren't labeled (mine weren't), use this as an excuse to label them. Flip each one, and have an accomplice tell you what lights went out (be sure to turn on at least one light in each room, radios/CD players are helpful for upstairs).
posted by Rock Steady at 8:10 AM on August 27, 2006

Thirding The Captain. Also be aware that normal outlets can be wired into GFCI's on the same circuit. While it's unlikely that they would be wired into a GFCI on another floor, it's possible.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:21 AM on August 27, 2006

The very first requirement for this kind of troubleshooting is to have a thoroughly labeled breaker panel. If yours isn't, go ahead and plan now to spend a couple hours one day figuring it all out. There no other way to do it except to turn everything on and then kill breakers to see when turns off. It's equally unavoidable that this will take a couple hours to do properly.

And, yes, turn the suspect breaker off (push it all the way) and then back on. A tripped breaker can look like it's still on.
posted by intermod at 8:51 AM on August 27, 2006

The Captain is right. I can't count the number of times the breaker looks like it hasn't been tripped but the minute you put your finger on it, its immediately apparent that it is.
posted by Ironmouth at 11:02 AM on August 27, 2006

you guys nailed it....turns out the breaker *looked* fine but was tripped....not sure what the blue spark was caused by but the whole thing is fine now....many thnx to all
posted by pman78 at 5:12 PM on August 28, 2006

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