I occasionally experience partial outages in my home. What could be the cause?
- A circuit has overloaded and a circuit breaker tripped at the panel. Locate the breaker for the room in which the outage occurred. If the breaker has tripped, the control handle will either be set to "OFF" or at a midpoint close to "ON." Modern breakers will also show a red bar (red will appear in a small glass square on the breaker itself) if the circuit has been tripped. Reset the handle by flipping it to the "OFF" position, then to the "ON" position. If the breaker trips again immediately after being reset, contact an electrician to diagnose the problem.
- A fuse has become overloaded and has blown. Simply replacing the fuse can be dangerous if you do not know which fuse to use. A fuse that has too many amperes for its socket could overload and cause a fire. If you are unsure about the ratings of your fuses, contact an electrician to have them labeled. You might also consider converting to "S-type" sockets. These prevent the installation of fuses with improper ampere ratings.
If you experience frequent outages caused by a circuit breaker or fuse overload, consider hiring an electrical contractor to upgrade your system to deliver the proper current to your electrical items.
Lisa Hamilton, Architectural Studies Student Assistant, University of Missouri Extension
Last update: Monday, May 18, 2009