House electrical problem?

Just tonight the I used the microwave, and half of the electronics in the house went dimm. anything requiring much electricity wont turn on at all, such as the tv and satellite box. after checking the breakers, none were thrown, but the water heater breaker was the one that controlled all the appliances that are dim. if I unplug the water heater, nothing on that circuit works at all, as soon as it is plugged in everything is on but dim. If anyone can give me any ideas for what to check to correct this I would appreciate it.


This sounds like a possible solution since we had an electrician replace our old box that used fuses with a breaker box. the reason I agree is that when they replaced it they created a bottle neck between the main pole and the house which both have 200 amp breakers. they put a 50 amp breaker between them. so I could see this breaker being the problem. any further insight will be appreciated.

Update 2:

new info, I just went outside and opened up the 50 amp circuit breaker box, turned it off and blew all the dust out of it. turned it back on and everything worked like normal. yes the water heater is hard wired, I disconnected the hot line right on the water heater. after turning off the breaker out side and turning it back on the water heater breaker no longer turns off the appliances it was turning off before. I am so confused.

11 Answers

  • 1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    Get the electrician back soon. It sounds like you have lost your neutral and the water heater is now the neutral through the water pipes or the water its self. Any thing on that dimmed line will burn out if it is used.

  • 4 years ago

    Sounds like your service isn't adiquite, you should be able to have a tech from your electric company come over and evuluate your service. Never play with your service if you don't now what your doing. Post note to below posts, you HAVE NO problem with you transformer, this is an interior problem, the transformer in your street IF it was malfunctioning would 100% trip the long pole breaker on the transformer, AND also all your neighbors would have issues, this is a interior problem, a undersized electrical panel, or your house has aluminium wiring, (older houses has it, but contractors didn't know had to go 1 Ga. higher with al. than copper), another words, if a cuicuit called for a 10 Ga copper, had to use 8 Ga aluminum as the equivilate, check these all out, i am sure this will give you your solution.

  • 1 decade ago

    This problem doesn't sound quite right. If you are in the U.S., you need a "Licensed" electrician to troubleshoot this.

    1- A basic electric service brings power from the pole through a weather-head (or underground service) straight into your electric meter.

    2- The three wires coming in are 2 wires (120v each) and a neutral.

    3- They should go directly to your main "Load Center" whose main breaker would be 100 Amps, 150 Amps or 200 Amps.

    4- The load center has breakers that are connected to the individual lighting circuits, Receptacles and appliances.

    5- You problem should start with troubleshooting the lighting and receptacles circuit. Sounds like you have more than one wire connected to a single breaker.

    Best I can do from here - Good Luck ! ! !

    Source(s): Retired Electrician - NJ
  • 1 decade ago

    The way the electric company brings you power is through 3 lines. One is a ground and the other two are both running at 110 volts. The water heater needs to be on its on breaker with nothing else going to it. Sounds like the water heater has a partial short in it. One of the electrodes in the tank may be bad. Sounds like you need an electrician and a plumber. For insurance purposes you should get an electrician to check it out. The water heater needs to be on its on breaker, oh wait I said that. Or it could just be a bad breaker as suggested in other answers.

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  • 1 decade ago

    you problem was the 50 amp breaker one side had tripped with-out turning off the other side off.

    I guess he was using this pending inspections power company.personally I would have tied it back in hot myself.

    Since one side was tripped and the water heater element is 220 volt the 110 volt back-feed through the element to the panel.

    The resistance of the element is why dim lights and anything else on the phase with the main power not coming in.

    seen this more than once

    Source(s): Master Electrical Licensed Contractor Tn. Fl.
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Sounds to me like an open ground connection somewhere; that would square with things not working when the water heater is unplugged. (Why is it not hard-wired in? Sounds like a code violation. And in any event, it should be on a breaker of its own.) A much less likely issue would be a defective breaker (I ran into that once). But this sounds sufficiently screwed up that a qualified electrician needs to be called in.

  • 1 decade ago

    Robert S is correct - you have a broken or loose neutral conductor likely at your service panel or the feed coming into your residence.

    This can cause motors to burn out (refrigerators, freezers, fans, air conditioners, etc. It can also be detrimental to any electronic equipment.

    You may not have noticed, but some partst of your electrical has an overvoltage condition

    You have noticed the undervoltage condition.

    This has to be rectified immediately - all connections should be checked for tightness and heating by a qualified electrician.

    Source(s): Electrician since 1968.
  • 1 decade ago

    Call a licensed electrician and tell him what you told us. Also ask him about those 50amp breakers outside. Besides your immediate problem, I would guess there are problems with your entire system. Was it inspected after the last electrician was there? Was he licensed?

    Source(s): Licensed Electrician and Electrical contractor
  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    it is possible that you need a larger breaker to work all these i would try that first and i would also recommend getting an electritian to do this

  • mickie
    Lv 4
    1 decade ago

    Must be a ghost!!! Sorry, couldn't resist. Not sure what the problem could be, but I was curious to see what was happening. Good Luck.

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