Troubleshooting Home Power Problems

For more information about any power quality issues, call PGE’s outage and repair line: 

503-464-7777 (Portland)  800-544-1795 (elsewhere) 

Frequently asked questions

No need to call PGE. When lights blink, it generally means an electrical fault – an abnormal connection causing current to flow incorrectly – has occurred in your area. Usually that’s caused by an animal touching PGE lines or equipment, a car hitting a power pole or people digging into buried conductors. PGE equipment restores power so quickly that all you see is a quick flicker. 

This generally means a fault occurred in your area and PGE’s automated protection system turned off the power. First check to make sure your main circuit breaker isn’t just tripped. Then, report the outage online via a mobile device or at  503-464-7777 or  800-544-1795

Large storms often blow tree limbs onto PGE’s power lines, resulting in a fault that creates a power surge. A power surge can damage your electronics and appliances. If you do not have surge protection, you should unplug your more sensitive equipment like televisions and computers to avoid damage. 

The voltage going into your home constantly changes depending on electrical loads used by you and your neighbors. We strive to keep our voltage within 5 percent of the nominal voltage. The neighbor’s power tools may cause your voltage to drop outside of the 5 percent range. If it does, we can make changes in our electrical system to help prevent the problem. Call our outage and repair line for assistance.

Are light bulbs burning out throughout the entire home or just in one socket? If bulbs are burning out quickly throughout the entire house, you may want to contact our outage and repair line. Several factors determine how long a light bulb lasts. These include the voltage rating, the wattage, the manufacturer’s rated life of a bulb, how often you use the bulb and unusual voltage conditions. Here are some ideas to save you the expense of constantly changing light bulbs:

  • Try LED bulbs. LEDs last up to 25 years and use up to 85% less energy, according to manufacturers’ estimates. See our Lighting section for more information. Standard incandescent light bulbs are designed to last approximately 750 hours, which may mean only a few months.

  • Try bulbs rated for 130 volts instead of 120 volts. The voltage in your house may be somewhat higher than normal, which causes 120 volt bulbs to burn out quickly.

If your light bulb seems unusually bright, you may have a different problem. Call our outage and repair line to verify your voltage is in the acceptable range.

Occasionally, a circuit breaker or fuse “trips” in your electrical panel - try turning them off and back on, or turning them on if they are off. If that doesn’t work, call the PGE repair line. 

Chances are your air conditioning equipment is not operating properly. Contact a repair technician to service it. 

Circuit breakers trip for a couple of reasons. The circuit is overloaded, the circuit breaker is defective, or a fault has tripped the circuit. Have an electrician take a look first, as the most common causes are related to the home system. If an electrician can't find a problem or advises you to call PGE, call our outage and repair line.

Call our outage and repair line to report the problem. Our crews will quickly take care of the power lines. However, you’ll also need to contact an electrician to repair the service mast and house wiring. Those items actually belong to you, and PGE is not authorized to make house-wiring repairs. Only a licensed electrical contractor can perform that type of work.

Many things can affect the AM channels of a radio. A light dimmer switch, a doorbell transformer, and fluorescent lights can all interfere with radio reception. Occasionally, when PGE equipment is degraded, it can produce noise.

Call our outage and repair line to report the problem. We’ll get back to you quickly to help identify the source of the noise and a solution.

Most UPS devices have surge protection built into them. In some cases, however, a surge exceeds the rating of the device. A better approach to protecting your sensitive load is to install surge protection ahead of your UPS. A good surge protection device (SPD) protects your UPS and any equipment connected to your UPS from failures.

Each surge protection device (SPD) has limits on how much surge energy it can handle. Many inexpensive SPDs and UPS devices have low limits. Visit our surge protection page to learn about the right protection for your situation.

Generally, houses built before 1960 do not have a ground conductor included with their electrical outlets. In other words, there are two holes instead of three. Occasionally, people add outlets to their house so they can plug in three-prong cords, but they do not add the ground wire to the receptacle. This may be the wiring error the surge protector is indicating, or it may be indicating other wiring errors at the receptacle. An electrical contractor can help.

Two reasons. First, a panel-mounted surge protector will not prevent surges from entering your house through phone, cable or digital satellite system lines. Second, electronics require a higher degree of surge protection than other devices. Outlet protectors offer tighter voltage clamping, eliminating all surge “noise” and providing cleaner power to devices plugged into them.

The National Electric Code requires that a transfer switch be installed if you want to power some of your house loads with a generator. You should get an electrical contractor to install it. And remember, for your safety and that of utility crews, never connect a portable generator to your home’s wiring – it can backfeed and start a fire or electrocute crews working on lines they think are de-energized.

The pump’s load may cause the voltage to drop too low. Call our outage and repair line to have someone check your service.

Understand power surges and surge protection options to help prevent equipment damage.

Home generators can be a convenient backup during a power outage when used correctly. Review safety tips to protect yourself and our crews.