Thursday, April 27, 2017

What's a Phase Distribution Power Loss in Homes? How is it different from Total Power Loss?

Cables were loose on the pole
Recently we experienced a weird power issue in the house where only one section of the house was suddenly without power and there was nothing "flipped" in the fuse box/circuit breaker box. We learned that it was a "Phase Distribution" Power Loss and you should know what it is in case it happens to you. I'm not an electrician, I'm a meteorologist, so I'm just sharing what we experienced. I will say that the BGE Serviceman was awesome.

WHAT IS IT?  There are apparently several cables that go into your home from the power lines. It's basically a "phased" distribution of power to you house. It's
often called ‘Single-Phasing’ and the power failure occurs when one of the three power feeds to your house is loose, disconnected or broken.

HOW IT WORKS - Each is connected to a part of the house, and doesn't really mean anything when it comes to your "fuse box/circuit breaker box." So, if one line becomes loose, it can take out power to part of your house and won't through the fuse switches on your fuse box. 

HOW TO KNOW - In our house, the lights in the kitchen and the microwave, lights in the den and living room kept flickering and would shut off for awhile. It took me awhile to realize that every time the wind blew outside, the lights would flicker but only in the kitchen, living room and den. All three of those rooms have different switches in the fuse box/circuit breaker box, so that made me think that it could not be something plugged in one room, because they were on different switches. So it HAD to be outside.  Further, the downstairs hallway and bedroom lights remained on, as did all of the upstairs lights. So that was weird. 

THE CLUE -  If no switches are flipped in the circuit breaker box, and the power is out in just a part of the house, it could very likely be a phase distribution power loss.

IT'S PRETTY COMMON - One of the electricians said that losing one phase is quite a common occurrence.  It happened at her house, but in her case, the power lines were buried and they had to dig a 5-foot deep hole in her front yard. What's interesting is that neither of us can every remember the phase distribution power loss happening at our parents' houses. 

WHO DO YOU CALL?  - Not an electrician. At least not at first. Call the power company and have them check the lines outside to the house. If they're loose, as one of our lines was, they just need to tighten it and it solves the problem (it did for us). If not, it may be an internal problem, and THAT'S when you call an electrician. 

CAUTION - Turn off the breakers for the rooms affected. had an in-depth article that explained how the remaining current can adversely affect your computer, TV, etc. - Once confirmed, disconnect the power by switching off the main breaker in your electrical panel. This will spare your equipment from operating undervoltage. If you catch it quick enough, you could save hundreds of dollars instead of replacing your computer, HD TV, Blu-ray player, etc. 

GREAT EXPERIENCE WITH BGE -  I called Baltimore Gas and Electric (BGE) at 6:07p.m. and they took my report of flickering lights. I called back at 7:08 p.m. and reported the power was out in part of the house (and after talking with our friend Will, he clued me in to phase power distribution). The BGE serviceman, a hunky, tall, bearded man named Milton (I believe that was his name) arrived at 9:07 p.m. and I explained the symptoms and what I thought may be the case. He checked the house connection and then the pole, and that's where it was. He said it likely came loose from windy conditions, and an 10 minutes he fixed the issue!.

Gift/Memorial Suggestions

Several of our friends have lost loved ones (human and pets) and we found that one of the best ways to honor their memory is to give to an animal charity.
What better way to recognize a life of love, than by giving another life a chance for love?
We donate to many animal rescues, but because we volunteer with
DC Weimaraner Rescue and Coast-to-Coast Dachshund Rescue, those are our 2 favorites.
Consider giving the chance of life to a dog or cat.

About us

We're two married guys who enjoy the simple things in life, especially our dogs. We volunteer for dog rescues, enjoy splitting dinners, exercising, blogging, helping friends and neighbors, ghost investigations, coffee and tea, Tudor history, weather, superheroes, comic books, mystery novels, traveling, 70s and 80s music, classic country, piano, gardening, writing books on ghosts and spirits, architecture, keeping a clean house, cooking simply, and keeping in shape. You'll find tidbits of all of these things on this blog and more.

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!

Tom and Rob Thinking Hard!
Wondering what home project to do next