Frequently Asked Questions During Outages
What is the best way to report my outage?
For the quickest response, please report your outage by logging into your account on novec.com or by calling customer service at 703-335-0500 or toll free at 1-888-335-0500.
What is the cause of my outage?
The easiest way to find the cause of your outage is to visit the outage center. Locate your outage on the map, click the helmet icon and you will see all available details of your outage.
*Please keep in mind this information is only available if your outage has been reported, and it could take up to 15 minutes to appear on the map. The "cause of outage" field will continue to be updated as more information becomes available.
Why isn't my outage appearing on the outage map?
If your outage isn't appearing on the map, please be sure it has been reported. You can do so by logging into your online account or by calling the customer service numbers listed above. Once reported, the outage could take up to 15 minutes to appear on the map.
How are restoration times determined?
When an outage is initially reported, our Outage Management System provides an estimate for restoration based on current reported field conditions. After arriving on scene, repair crews will often update that estimate as more information becomes available.
How do you decide whose power to restore first?
After resolving any issues that may have occurred at a substation or transmission line, NOVEC crews begin restoring power to areas serving the greatest number of customers and continue working until all customers have been restored. We understand that losing power is inconvenient and frustrating. NOVEC provides service restoration estimates based on the best information available to enable you to make informed decisions regarding your home and family.
NOVEC's service reliability is the best in the Washington metropolitan region. However, events beyond the control of the Cooperative such as automobile accidents, unforeseen equipment failures, lightning storms, freezing rain, snow, or high winds make it impossible to guarantee uninterrupted service.
- Why does my neighbor have power but I don’t?
- Why do crews sometimes leave my neighborhood before power is restored?
- Is priority given to customers with special medical needs?
- How long will food in my refrigerator and freezer last?
- What is the best way to protect my food and medicine?
- Should I purchase a portable generator?
- I rely on a sump pump to keep my basement dry. What can I do to prepare for an outage?
- Why can't all power lines be buried?
- What should I do if I see a low or downed power line?
It may be that your neighbors are on a different supply line or there may be trouble just on the section of the line supplying your immediate area. The cause of the outage may be isolated to one fuse, one transformer or a group of transformers, or the problem may be on the service line connected to your residence. If all of your surrounding neighbors’ lights are on and you are still without power, check your breaker box for a tripped circuit breaker or blown fuse. If that does not appear to be the case, please call us to report your outage using the outage reporting number 703-335-0500 or 1-888-335-0500. Top
Crews working near your home — even across the street — may be fixing a feeder that does not serve your home or may be securing downed wires for follow-up by repair crews. Or there could be more than one location on the power line that is damaged. If you see our crews leaving your area without restoring power, another area may need to be repaired to activate your line or they may need specialized equipment to finish repairs. During large outages, NOVEC personnel will patrol the service area to assess damage before repair work begins. When trees are involved, specialized crews will generally respond first to remove the trees before repair crews respond. Top
We recognize the hardships that special medical needs customers face during extended outages. However, in instances of extreme system damage, it can take many hours or even days for all repairs to be completed. We encourage special medical needs customers to be prepared with an emergency plan. Such a plan may include arrangements to use a portable generator, installation of battery backup on critical electrical devices, or moving to an alternate location until repairs can be completed. Top
Food will stay frozen for 36-48 hours in a fully loaded freezer if you keep the door closed. A half-full freezer will generally keep food frozen for 24 hours. If it looks like the power will be out for more than 2-4 hours, place refrigerated foods such as milk, dairy products, meats, fish and poultry in a cooler surrounded by ice. Perishable foods should not be left at temperatures above 40 degrees F for more than two hours. For more information, view our brochure. Top
The best way to protect food and refrigerated medicine is with regular ice in an insulated cooler. Ice is inexpensive, easy to use and readily available from a number of retail sources. It is also the best way to preserve medicines that must be refrigerated.
Another alternative is dry ice. Dry ice is available from a limited number of retailers, and there are special handling and safety precautions that must be followed. It takes a lot of dry ice to keep food frozen in a large freezer. For example, 25 pounds of dry ice is needed to keep the temperature below freezing for two or three days in a half-full 10-cubic foot freezer. It takes 50-100 pounds of dry ice to keep a full 18-cubic foot freezer safe for two days. There are also safety concerns if you use dry ice. Gloves or tongs should always be used to handle dry ice, and food should be separated from dry ice with a layer of cardboard to prevent freezer burn. Too much dry ice will freeze refrigerated foods and medicine in a typical ice chest. Never leave children unattended around dry ice — the carbon dioxide vapor may cause suffocation in confined areas and the ice can burn unprotected skin. Dry ice will transform from a solid to a gas at a rate of five to 10 pounds every 24 hours. Top
The most important consideration is safety — improper use of portable generators can be deadly due to the carbon monoxide from the generator exhaust and the potential for electrical shock from improperly connecting the generator to a home wiring system. Portable generators should never be used indoors, in an attached garage or near windows and doors. Individual appliances should be plugged into the generator using appropriately sized, outdoor-rated cords.
NOVEC Solutions can help you determine which size generator is right for your needs and also offer a number of options. Remember, most portable generators will not run your central air conditioner or electric heat pump. Top
You may want to check out one of the battery backup sump pump systems available that rely on a rechargeable 12-volt marine battery, or you can plug the sump pump into a portable generator following the safety precautions described above. There are also systems that use municipal household water pressure to operate and are designed to work during power outages. Your plumber or a local retailer can help you select and install the right equipment. Top