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The Lights Went Out, But the Circuit Breaker Didn’t Trip—What’s Up?

incandescent-lightsIn a recent post, we addressed problems with tripping circuit breakers and what to do if your electrical panel has continually tripping breakers. Today’s post goes to an opposite problem—circuit breakers that don’t trip.

“Wait, how is that a problem?” you ask. It’s a problem if you have a sudden loss of power in the house—such as the lights going out—and the circuit breaker for those appliances and outlets hasn’t tripped. The most common solution for losing the lights is a tripped breaker, and in most cases resetting the breaker is all you need to do. (And if they keep tripping, see the post linked above.)

We’re going to look at what might cause your lights to go out (or start to flicker) that isn’t a tripped circuit breaker or a single burnt-out light bulb.

A different type of breaker tripped

The circuit breakers in your electrical panel are not the only breakers in your house. There may be local ones that can affect your lights. Two in particular:

  • GFCI Outlet: These are safety outlets designed to prevent people from receiving high voltage shocks either from the outlet itself or through an appliance plugged into it. We strongly recommend having these outlets installed in your home if you don’t have them. If the lights that went out are plugged into a GFCI outlet, press the “test” button. If the button doesn’t click down, then it means the GFCI has tripped its internal circuit breaker. Press the other button on the outlet, “reset,” until it clicks. See if this restores the lights.
  • Power Strip: If the lights are plugged into a power strip connected to an outlet, the power strip may have tripped its breaker. Reset the breaker (a button that pops out) and then check on the lights again.

Bad wiring

This covers a wide amount of ground, and can include loose wiring connections or frayed wiring. It’s more common for older electrical systems. The wiring in the outlets can have fallen from loose screws—this is a common problem, and we recommend you allow an electrician to handle the repairs so you won’t have electric shock dangers. Frayed wiring and other loose wires elsewhere will also need the repair assistance of a professional electrician since they are a frequent cause of house fires. Please shut off the circuit breaker for these lights and call for assistance.

House voltage needs to be upgraded

Failed lights or flickering lights can be a warning that your home needs to have its voltage upgraded to current standards. This is a job our electricians can handle—they’ll assess your home’s current system and find the best way to upgrade it.

For the electrical repair in Montclair, NJ and throughout Northern Jersey that will fix any lighting, wiring, or electrical panel issues, you can trust our electricians. Remember that attempting DIY work on your electrical system can be extremely dangerous. Don’t take chances. Go to the trusted professionals.

Anderson Electric Corp. has been your local electrician for over 25 years. Call us for any electrical repairs you need.

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