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Troubleshooting Power Problems

Tips for troubleshooting power disturbance problems

Oh, no! The lights are flickering and the image on your computer screen is shrinking. Looks like you've got a power disturbance problem.

You might want to wait before calling FPL or your electrician. Sometimes solving the problem is simply a matter of keeping track of when problems occur and which equipment is affected.

Troubleshooting Items to Check

Solution

1. Are other businesses in your area affected?

  • If not, check your circuit breaker or main breaker before calling an electrician or FPL.
  • If your business is in a complex with other businesses and only your power is out, call your building's maintenance person for assistance.
  • If your entire complex's lights are flickering or out,
    • call FPL at 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243) or
    • use Report Trouble online.

2. Does the problem come and go?

Look for patterns; more than likely something might have interfered to cause a quick on and off of electricity. Things that you may want to consider when looking for patterns:

  • Does the problem happen at the same time of day?
  • Is construction work going on in your neighborhood?
  • How was the weather?
  • Was there a loud noise outside the business?
  • Have you added any new equipment to your business?

Being aware of patterns can be a valuable tool for you, an electrician, or FPL in finding the cause and solution to your power disturbances.

3. Is all of your equipment running at the same time?

Find out if sensitive equipment is sharing the same electrical circuit as larger equipment or motors, or if too much equipment is on one circuit. If so, relocate the sensitive equipment to a different outlet or circuit.

4. Has recent work been performed on your business's or location's electrical system? Have you recently added new equipment to your business?

Check your installation manual, troubleshooting guide, or call the electrician who did the work to find out if incorrect installation, grounding or wiring is causing problems with other equipment in your business.

5. Is the problem happening with only one specific piece of equipment or electronic device?

If so, review the instruction manual provided with the item to see if it provides troubleshooting tips or contact the manufacturer for assistance and advice with identifying the cause of the problem. Also, you may want to check to see if the equipment is plugged into a ground fault interrupt (GFI) outlet.

6. Are lights in your facility going dim and staying dim for an extended period of time?

When lights in your facility stay dim for an extended period, turn off major appliances and call FPL.

   Ground fault interrupt

Ground Fault Interrupt (GFI) circuits most often provide power to outlets located wherever water can be a threat, near

  • sinks
  • tubs
  • garages and
  • on the exterior of your business.

A special GFI outlet is designed to shut off electricity to the entire circuit in order to prevent electrical shock. To restore electricity to the circuit, the GFI outlet must be reset:

Step

Action

1

Unplug cord-connected equipment from the outlets served by the GFI circuit (usually outlets located near sinks, tubs, garages, and on the exterior of your business, wherever water can be a threat).

2

Locate the specific outlet that includes the GFI reset switch.

3

Reset the switch (make sure you are pressing the "reset" button, not the "test" button).

4

If the switch does not reset, contact your electrician for assistance.

   "Mumble, grumble, psaat" - electrical interference

If there is static on your cordless telephone or radio when other equipment is running, your problem may be electrical interference. Sometimes it takes just a few minutes to find out what is causing electrical interference and to eliminate the source:

Step

Action

1

Turn on the equipment that is experiencing the interference - for example, the phone or radio that has static.

2

Go the breaker box and flip each circuit breaker off and then on again while someone stays with the affected equipment.

3

The interference will disappear when the breaker causing it is flipped off.

4

Turn the offending breaker back on to confirm it is the source.

5

Identify the electrical devices in your business connected to the breaker and turn them on.

6

Turn the electrical devices off, one by one, until the interference disappears.

7

Once you find the device that is causing the interference, repair or replace it.

8

If you cannot locate the equipment that is causing the interference, report it

  • at Report Trouble online or
  • call 1-800-4OUTAGE (1-800-468-8243) for additional advice.

   Defusing the mystery of breakers and fuses

If the power goes out in just a portion of your business or specific equipment isn't working, you may have tripped a breaker - a safety device that protects your business from short circuits and electrical overloads that could lead to fires.

Before problems occur, it's important to know where the breaker panel is located, and to make sure you can get to it quickly. Keep a flashlight handy since electrical problems often mean lights are out.

And remember that electricity can be dangerous, so it pays to call an electrician if you have problems with any of these steps.

   Resetting a breaker

View video: How to Reset Your Breakers

Step

Action

1

You'll know a breaker is "tripped" when the lever in the breaker panel is halfway between the off and on position.

2

Switch it all the way to off, then back on.

3

If the breaker trips again, do not reset it since this may signal a serious wiring or equipment problem. Contact an electrician or your building maintenance staff.

4

If the breaker for your air conditioning system trips, wait five minutes before resetting it to prevent motor damage.

   Resetting your main breaker

View video: How to Reset Your Breakers

If power is completely out at your business, but nearby businesses are not affected, you may have tripped the main breaker.

Step

Action

1

Find out if neighboring businesses are affected.

2

If not, turn off all breakers inside your panel.

3

Find the mainline switch for your business, located near the electrical meter.

4

Reset the switch by turning it off and on two times.

5

Turn all breakers on inside the panel.

6

If electricity does not come back on, contact FPL at

   When simple solutions don't work

Power outages and electrical disturbances can be caused by problems within your business, such as

  • poor wiring or grounding
  • overloaded circuits
  • normal operation of electronic devices, such as
    • computers
    • copy machines and
    • fax machines
  • starting and stopping equipment, such as
    • industrial motors
    • heating and cooling equipment
    • refrigerators
    • elevators
  • deterioration of aging electrical equipment
  • upgraded equipment that is not compatible with the existing transformer or electrical system.

If the solutions here don't work, or you suspect you have electrical problems at your business, contact your building maintenance staff or a qualified electrical contractor or electrician. Friends, colleagues and relatives are your best source for references. The following should also help.

   Checklist for selecting an electrician

Here are some questions you should ask when hiring an electrician. There may also be others you wish to ask depending on your specific circumstances.

  • Is the electrician licensed and insured?
  • Does he or she work with business-related problems?
  • Can the electrician provide references?
  • What is the electrician's hourly charge?
  • Will the electrician provide you with a written estimate for large jobs?
  • Does the electrician provide a service agreement guaranteeing his or her work?
  • Will the electrician let you know if the electrical work requires holes in walls or other structural changes? Are repairs included in the written estimate?

   Your electrician's checklist for solving power disturbance mysteries

  • Check for loose connections.
  • Make sure all electrical switches and outlets are working properly.
  • Make sure all equipment is properly grounded and bonded, according to national and local electrical codes.
  • Verify outlets are properly wired.
  • Check that circuits are not overloaded.