It sounds like you have an inadequate service and more loads on one leg. Has any thing new been added in the house?
A house is powered by a transformer from the Power Company that steps down 13,000 Volts to 240 Volts with a tap in the centre of the windings to give you 120 Volt to ground/neutral.
quote; And if that was the case... wouldn't the circuit be broken when the device is shut off (Because in two of the three cases, the dryer wasn't running before the outage, so I didn't keep it running after it 'fixed' the outage)?
If your diagnosis is correct, ANY 220/240 device, such as an air conditioner or electric heat device, would cause the same symptoms if it were to turn on.
I had an intermittent loss of power problem in my house that took years to develop and get bad enough to find. The house is a 2 family duplex I have owned and lived in for over 40 years. It has 2 meters into one pan and each side is fed from there. Both sides have 100 amp panels. One side....the one I live in has a 100 amp breaker mounted in a weatherproof box directly under the meter pan. The side where the meter is has the main in the 100 amp panel directly inside from the meters. The outside main is necessary because of the distance to my sides panel.
I was occasionally having loss of power or dimming of some lights....on my side only. A good freind is/was a lifelong electrician. We investigated and decided to replace the 100 amp breaker thinking maybe it was the problem since it was outside. Some time later the problem got worse....so we attemted again to find the issue. We still could not find the issue until one day power failed while we were standing and just talking in my garage......We eventually found the problem and made a repair. The meter for my side had a loose screw that holds the clips where the meter plugs in. It had arced for so long the threads for the screw hole were gone. Arcing had ruined them and one side of the meter lost contact with the bar. The bars are there to mount the meters and feed both sides from the service cable. My friend used a cordless drill and drilled and tapped the hole for a larger screw in the bar. We then modified the clip for the bigger screw and got it all back together and HE did the entire job with the service still connected.....I was not real comfortable doing this but he was and we were extremely carefull.
That repair lasted for years untill one day my service cables were cut and laying in the street....I assumed a truck caught them as it passed and the driver never knew it. The severed cables were still live and just laying in the street at the curb....no arcing....
I had the entire service replaced as this was a perfect opportunity to get rid of that old meter pan......and this was done once before in 1978.....so that meter pan and the service cable was 30 years old......A storm ripped it off in 1978 and everything replaced back then......The arcing and loose screw issue went on for a few years before it got so bad the power completely failed on one leg of my sides service only.....
The only way to find things like this is to disassmble items and look for evidence of problems....or possibly use a heat gun to find higher temps.....or in our case we actually heard the arcing at the meter when we removed it and pushed it back in....We did not see the issue untill we heard that arcing....
None of this should be done by anyone but an electrician or the power company to check your meter and service cable connections....
Depending on where you live, breaking the seal and removing the meter can get you hit with a BIG fine. Thieves tend to do this, bridge across the thing and steal power without the meter reading what was used. Always check with the power company to find out what's required if the meter needs to be removed (which requires breaking the seal).
While I expect most electrical contractors in this area unlock meters themselves (I have seen all the keys on sale at most professional supply houses) I don't bother. I generally can get which ever power company that has jurisdiction to unlock a meter for me pretty quickly. If there is an actual emergency with snapping and crackling in the service panel, and odd activity in the juice coming out, then I just tell them to hurry up, and I have never been disappointed.
Originally Posted by jadnashua
Now, of course, if there has been an earthquake or a really big windstorm, that may not hold.
One just needs to know one's local power company(ies).