What To Check First If Your Electricity Goes Off

If we know what to check when our electric power goes off then we may be able to solve the problem outselves.

This happens when we are the most comfortable, watching a good movie on television, kicking back in our favorite recliner, with chips and dip, ready for a long lazy evening. We know it is raining outside, however, that makes us even more snug with our setting, and then --- with a flash of lightning, the electricity is off and we are setting in Bohemian-like darkness to which we are not accustomed. What to do ---?

It is most likely there is a power failure with the local electric company, perhaps a line knocked down by a limb blown down in the storm. It could be one of many reasons, but if this is the case, it is out of your hands. If all of the power in your home went off simultaneously, it is most likely a sort of general outage. Call a neighbor, or step outside and look along the street: are the street lights on, are there lights in the window of homes? If so, it is your problem; if not you're not alone. Make sure all of the appliances that were on when the power failed are turned off and report to your electric provider that your electricity is off and then set back and relax. Keep the refrigerator and freezer closed as much as possible, to avoid spoilage of food.

Alternatively, if the neighborhood has power and you alone are in the dark it could be the power line leading to your home. Step outside and check the power lines leading into your home from the utility pole. If this line is down, do not touch any metal object on the outside of your home and do not go near the downed line. Warn everyone to stay away from the wire and place your pets in a safe area away from the line. Call the emergency number of your utility company immediately.

If the line outside is intact, it could be a problem with the main fuse, which is found in older homes. These homes were built with circuits that are secured by fuses. The newer homes have circuit breakers: open the main power panel and check to see which type you have. If there are rows of round glass insertions, yours is fuses. If you see rows of switches, you have circuit breakers.

How to replace the cartridge on a main fuse that has blown. Turn main power off!

- You will find the main fuses of the older type in the upper part of the panel in two black plastic boxes. There is a handle attached to the box labeled "main:" pull this down and then pull the box straight out.

- Look on the back of the box and you will see two round cartridge fuses. Clips on each end secure the fuses to the box. Grasp the center of the round fuse and snap it out of the clips. The fuse will need to be replaced with the same amperage rating.

- Snap the new round fuse to the back of the box and replace in receptacle, push in securely to make good contact.

- If power is still not on, or comes on and then go off again, it is possible the fuse has blown again and a short may exist. Call an electrician

How to reset the main circuit breaker

- On newer homes the main circuit breaker is located in the panel at the top of the rows of switches and is labeled "main."

- Turn the main switch off, and then firmly on, again. The lights should come on, if not, try the procedure again. If the lights come on and then off again and you hear a "pop" in the breaker there is a dangerous short in the wiring: call an electrician immediately.

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