Why Is Half The Power Out In My House? (What To Check And What To Do)
A tripped breaker can cause half the power in a house to go out. More often, there’s a larger, more dangerous, wiring issue. Or, a partial power outage from the electrical provider (PECO for homes in the Philadelphia area).
No matter the cause, it’s important to address the problem right away.
Obviously, any electrical issue in your home is a risk. As anyone who’s experienced even a minor shock will tell you, electricity can be dangerous!
Sometimes, a best-case scenario is “just” damaging your appliances or electronics. But, house fires due to electrical problems are common . Maybe more common than you think — nearly 350,000 annually in the U.S., causing more than $7 BILLION in damage!
So, you need to act fast if half the power goes out in your home. If it’s due to a tripped breaker, the problem likely isn’t too bad. But, if all the breakers are in the “On” position, there could be a major safety issue with your home’s wiring.
In this article, we’ll walk you through troubleshooting a partial power outage in your home. We’ll start with what to check when the breaker’s tripped, and then the possible causes when all of them are working.
But, we need to stress: call for an emergency electrician right away if you notice any burning smells, outlets or switches hot to the touch, or signs of any of the more severe problems we outline here.
Your Home Solutions has been keeping families in Abington, PA, and surrounding areas safe since 2008. You can call us any time, 24/7, at (215) 768-8102. A live electrician will pick up and answer all your questions right there.
Power Not Working In Certain Rooms And The Breaker Is Tripped
Usually, the power only goes out in one room (maybe two) when a circuit breaker trips. But, sometimes a smaller home has fewer circuits with more rooms wired to a single one than you’d find with a larger house. Or, the circuit affects outlets or switches in more than one part of the house.
That second one isn’t too common, but it happens. In those cases, you may want to have part of the house rewired.
That avoids an overload (we’ll get into that in a bit). And, it can make troubleshooting later on faster and easier for an electrician — which could mean less money you’ll pay for a repair if it takes less time.
At any rate, you first want to check if a breaker is tripped. If so, you’ve likely found the problem — or at least part of it.
Let’s quickly go through why a circuit breaker trips. Then, we’ll get into what to look for if all the breakers are on, but there’s still power out in half your house.
Three Reasons A Circuit Breaker Trips
The three main causes for a circuit breaker to trip are:
- Short Circuit
- Ground Fault Surge
You may occasionally trip a circuit breaker if you use or plug in too many appliances at once. In that case, move some electronics or heavy-duty appliances to other outlets or parts of the house.
And, don’t hook up multiple surge protectors to each other to get more outlets. Sure, it seems convenient to plug in more things in one room, but you’ll end up overloading your circuit.
However, if the same breaker keeps tripping, there’s a bigger problem somewhere. That’s when you need a professional electrician to troubleshoot the issue.
A short circuit occurs when the electrical current in your home takes the “wrong” pathway through your wiring and breaker panel. It’s usually a shorter route than it’s supposed to take — hence the name “short circuit.”
Along with the breaker tripping, you may also notice a burning smell in the home. Shut off all the power and call an electrician right away.
Ground Fault Surge
The electricity in your home is grounded, meaning there’s a path for excess or stray electricity to exit the house safely and flow into the ground. Without that, you have a current too strong for your wiring and appliances.
That’s when electronics start breaking, and wiring melts behind your walls. There’s a significant risk of a fire.
What To Do If The Breaker Keeps Tripping
Begin unplugging appliances and electronics if the same breaker keeps tripping. Call an electrician — not a handyman — right away if that doesn’t solve the problem.
The Power Is Out In Half The House, But The Breaker Isn’t Tripped
The four most common reasons the power is out in half the house but a breaker isn’t tripped are:
- Partial Power Outage From PECO
- Neutral Connection Is Lost
- Damage To The Meter
- Damage To The Main Breaker
Partial Power Outage From PECO
If a PECO line is damaged, compromised, or down, you can end up with a partial power outage. The electricity in your home flows in two phases. With a 220 amp panel, you’re getting two phases of 110 volts each. It’s essentially like having two lines of power.
Without enough electricity coming into the house, you’ll only get one phase — hence the partial outage.
So, call PECO first when half the power goes out in your house. You’ve likely found the problem if they report a down wire or outage.
Are Partial Power Outages Dangerous?
A partial power outage due to a problem with the power company isn’t too dangerous. Still, turn off electronics and appliances to prevent a surge when the power returns. But, a problem with a home’s internal wiring or panel can cause a fire or damage to wiring, appliances, and electronics.
Neutral Connection Is Lost
A lost neutral connection affects those two phases of electrical current we discussed. Now, they’re running in a series, or single line, instead of two parallel lines. The result you notice is half the power going out in your home.
Without getting too technical, the hot wire in your home carries electricity to outlets and switches. Then, the neutral line in your home returns the “used” electricity (pretty much the electrons) to the power supply.
Without a neutral, the circuit is broken, and you won’t get power to whatever parts of the house are served by that connection.
Damage To The Meter
Like an outage from the power company, damage to your meter outside can affect the two phases going into your home. One of the lines may be damaged, preventing both phases from coming in. Or there’s not enough power, so you only get one phase.
Damage To The Main Breaker
The last place where you may have a major wiring issue is in your main breaker. Once again, a weak current can result in only one phase. Or, one of the main legs, or wires, coming from the panel is damaged. That means half the power in your home goes out — the half served by that damaged wire.
If none of your breakers are tripped, and you’ve already called PECO, but there’s no outage from the utility, it’s time to call a professional.
You can visually inspect the main breaker or panel. Or take a look at the outside meter. But, at that point, you’re dealing with serious wiring issues that require a licensed electrician.
Emergency Electrician In Abington, PA
Call Your Home Solutions at (215) 768-8102 24/7 for an emergency electrician in Abington, PA, and surrounding areas. When you call, you speak directly to a licensed electrician. No administrator or answering service, no matter the time of day or night.