When your house plunges into darkness you know you’ve either done something to trip the main breaker, or there’s a power cut. Usually, a quick glance out of the window will give you the answer you need.
However, if you lose power to only half of your home then you’re facing a very different issue. The sensible course of action is to contact a reputable level 2 electrician immediately. Electricity is a dangerous substance and this is often forgotten until it’s too late.
However, if an electrician is not available or you really want to figure out the issue yourself, then you need to follow this troubleshooting guide.
Establish The Issue
You know you’ve lost power but you need to establish which circuits have stopped working. You should be able to do this by walking around the house. Of course, if your electrical circuits have been wired properly then the breakers will tell you what they control. You can see which breakers are off and check these are the only circuits out.
On a computer, if you have an issue you start the troubleshooting process by restarting it. The same is actually true of your electrics. Turn off all the breakers and then shut off the main one.
Now, wait for at least 30 seconds before turning the main breaker back on. Slowly turn each breaker on, starting with the ones that were still okay before.
You may find this resolves the issue or that one particular circuit trips the other breakers. If this is the case then you know which circuit has an issue.
Dealing With A Circuit
One circuit that keeps tripping suggests either a fault on the circuit or overloading. Unplug everything on the circuit and try the breaker again. If it stays on then you can start plugging things in. One thing will make it trip. When this happens unplug everything again, reset the breaker, and plug that item in first.
If it trips again then there is a problem with the item, if it trips again after you’ve plugged in so any items then there is an overloading issue, you’ll need to plug some items in elsewhere.
If you can’t reset the breaker then there is a problem with the circuit, potentially a short and you’ll need to get an electrician to deal with the issue for you.
Check GFCI outlets
If you have these in your home they’ll have a red and black button in the middle. You can use these to test circuits. Simply plug an appliance into the outlet and press the test button. The appliance should shut off. You can then press reset to restore the supply.
It’s possible that one of these outlets is blocking power to your circuits so check and press reset on all of them in your home.
If this hasn’t resolved the issue you’re going to need more specialized equipment and that’s a job for your qualified electrician.