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My Power is Out — What's to Blame?

Power can be affected by many things, like a faulty circuit from the street transformer that brings power into your home, a tripped or defective breaker, a tripped GFCI, or even a worn-out light switch.

Cut to the Chase: Issues That May Be Cutting Power to Your Devices

Rest assured, your electrical system doesn't have a mind of its own. If you find yourself stuck with a half-dried head of hair or in the dark on a stormy day, there's probably a good explanation.

Electrical issues can leave you feeling in the dark. You can confidently say "my power is out," but the trickier question is exactly where and why. Here are a few telltale signs to help you get to the bottom of why your power won't cooperate.

Potential Issues

  • no power to outlets
  • no power to devices
  • power is out

GFCI circuit breakers serve two functions. Like all breakers, they protect the circuit wiring from overcurrent (surges, etc.), which can cause the wiring to overheat and possibly a fire. However, GFCI breakers also monitor the current flowing through a circuit for an imbalance. If they detect even a small imbalance, the breaker will trip in a fraction of a second to protect against electrical shock. Once a breaker has tripped, it needs to be manually reset.

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  • no power in some rooms
  • air conditioner won’t turn on
  • no power to devices
  • heating unit won't turn on
  • power is out
  • no heat coming from vents
  • thermostat is blank

A circuit breaker is the central source of electrical power in your home that supplies your network of electrical control circuits that run power to outlets, lights, alarms, etc with power. When your circuit breaker is overloaded with too much power for one reason or another, it trips. A tripped circuit breaker may cause you to lose power in one room or more, depending on how many rooms are powered by a circuit. It’s important to remember that tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses are not a cause, they are a symptom. Something else is going on with your system to cause it to overload.

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  • no power to outlets
  • no power to devices
  • power is out

A GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) is a safety device on some electrical outlets that protects against circuit imbalances. Intended mostly for wet areas, it's designed to trip and shut off power when it detects an issue. When it's working properly, it should simply need to be reset to regain power. If it continues to trip or doesn't reset at all, then there could be a fault in the circuit or the outlet may have failed due to a large surge.

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  • no power to outlets
  • no power to devices
  • power is out

GFCI circuit breakers interrupt power when they detect an imbalance in a circuit. They're designed for circuits in wet areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages and outdoors. If your GFCI breaker detects an issue, it will trip in a fraction of a second to prevent electrical shock. Once a breaker has tripped, it needs to be manually reset. However, if the breaker won't reset or the test button isn't working, that's a sure sign that the GFCI breaker needs to be replaced.

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  • thermostat is blank
  • HVAC unit is shut off
  • no power to outlets
  • no power to devices
  • power is out

A GFCI (ground-fault circuit interrupter) is a safety device on some outlets that protects against electrical surges and circuit imbalances. It's designed for circuits in wet areas such as kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages and exterior outlets. If the GFCI detects an issue, it will trip in a fraction of a second to prevent electrical shock. Once it trips, you won't have power running to your device until the outlet is reset.

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  • power is out

Outlets on the outside of your home are usually protected by a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). If they get wet or another circuit issue is detected, the GFCI will trip to protect you from electric shock. A simple reset should correct the issue.

  • no power in some rooms
  • power is out
  • air conditioner won’t turn on
  • heating unit won't turn on

There are many individual circuits in a home. Power reaches breakers via the street transformer (or the electric service drop), which is the bundle of electrical cables that run from the utility company's power pole to the connection at your house. If the service drop goes down (or electrical service fails), all power in your home will shut off won't work properly.

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