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Cause of Electricity Going on and Off

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Now we welcome Bob from Georgia who listens to the Money Pit WBLJ. And you’ve got an electric issue. What’s happening?

    BOB: Yes, ma’am. Thank you for taking my call.

    I had a weird thing happen on my deck and my sunroom. Evidently, they’re on the same circuit and working fine. My wall plugs are also there. And one day, I closed the door and they did not come on.

    TOM: Hmm.

    BOB: Then about a week later, my wife accidentally slammed the back door and everything came on. (chuckling)

    TOM: Oh, that’s not good.

    BOB: They went back off again and I – I don’t know too much about electricity but I tried to trace some, maybe, shorts and can’t find anything. So I don’t know what’s going on.

    TOM: Well, you’ve got a short somewhere. It’s breaking the circuit, Bob, and it’s potentially dangerous because if it’s that loose that the slamming of the door is helping it make contact and not make contact, what you probably could be getting is some arcing in that circuit where you can have some heat buildup and that could cause a fire. So I would recommend, at this point, that you get an electrician involved because it’s beyond the scope of what you could do as a homeowner. There’s a problem in that circuit and those wires are separated somewhere.

    How old is your house, Bob?

    BOB: Seven years.

    TOM: Seven years.

    BOB: Yes

    TOM: So it’s not that old.

    BOB: No.

    TOM: Which is good. Which means you have modern, safe wiring. But if that circuit is going off, you’ve got to get to the bottom of it because there’s definitely a short somewhere.

    Where’s the main electric panel? Is it near that area? Is it anyplace where the impact would …

    BOB: No sir, it’s in the garage; about 80 feet away.

    TOM: OK. And is this a ground fault circuit? Does it have a ground fault circuit breaker attached to it; the kind that will …

    BOB: Yes, sir.

    TOM: … pop off?

    BOB: Yep.

    TOM: Yeah. That’s even more sensitive. You know, one of the things that you could try is simply to replace the ground fault breaker because they do wear out quicker than the others. It could be in the circuit breaker itself or it could be in an outlet. But even that, unless you’re really experienced with electricity, can be dangerous, Bob. So I would get an electrician in because if you’re having the circuit pop off and pop on, that means you’re getting arcing and sparking and that can lead to heat and that can lead to fire.

    Bob, thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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