(206) 949-5683, Top Rated Plumber, Seattle
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 15 of 17

Thread: Circuit breaker keeps tripping

  1. #1
    DIY Junior Member cluesmom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    small farm in MN
    Posts
    4

    Default Circuit breaker keeps tripping

    Hi, new here and don't know a bunch about electricity but will try to be concise.

    Background:1890's farmhouse. Looks like homeowner did wiring. We have lived here since 2000 with no major wiring problems but now this: One circuit breaker tripped a few times, we went and reset it, worked for a few days then tripped again. Now, about 1 week ago it would trip; we would reset it and it would trip as soon as it was reset. So, not knowing if it would cause a fire we left it tripped.

    Strange circuit: Living room and den and front foyer and upstairs master BR.
    We occasionally have the light switch in the downstairs foyer not work but we went upstairs and that switch would work the lights ( neighbor said that was just due to the lights not being wired properly???)

    It appears as if most rooms have 2 circuits ( so you would always have some power?)

    House is all plaster and lath so for the upstairs they ran all wiring up to the attic through the chimney chase? and then sent the wiriing to the individual rooms through the attic floor.

    Where do we start: add up all the amps drawn by things plugged in to see if the breaker is too small?

    No mice now but have had them in the past; could the wiring have been chewed?

    Thanks for any light you can shed on this. ( pun intended!

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    San Diego
    Posts
    9,001

    Default

    Well, this will require considerable Dick Tracy talent, given the unknowns.

    Before you call in an electrician, see if you can narrow some things down.

    First, just in general, you should always know exactly which circuit breaker controls what. This is a good time and a good excuse to get that done. With a helper, go around to every light switch, every recepacle, using a little tester, every appliance. Verify and mark the breaker panel. I actually have little number dots which I put on each switch and receptacle identifying the breaker number.

    Anyway. If you have not already figured it out, this will now reveal which switches and receptacles are fed by the tripped breaker. ( Leave it tripped while you are checking everything else.)

    NOW, unplug anything plugged into the tripped circuit, and turn off all the switches. Now it is time for the electrician, if you are not comfortable or knowledgeale about working inside the panel. I would put a clamp on ammeter around the wire from the tripped breaker, and turn it on. There should of course be zero at this time. Turn things on and plug things in to see what the current goes up to. If there was a bad "something" like a toaster with a shorted cord, it will now show up.


    If this testing fails to reveal a problem, the next step might be to replace the breaker. They can get "weak" or marginal, so just do it.

    Given your description of the property and the electrical work, I would remain alert to problems. I might even recommend replacing the breaker in question with an arc-fault model. This way, if there is a marginal or intermittent wire problem, such as from the moust or a nail through the plaster, the AFCI should prevent a fire.


    If you are not very comfortable with this, I would definitely recommend getting an electrician, who has more sophisticated test equipment to locate a faulty cable, etc. But as I said, if you do some of the "narrowing down" first, you will not be paying him by the hour for that simple task.

  3. #3

    Default

    Have you bought a new TV recently and this is on that circuit?

    New TVs use more power than old.

    Or anything else new on the circuit? (An additional load...)

    That's a lot of rooms for one circuit.

    If overloading is the problem, what you can do in a situation like this is run a new circuit to just one energy hog like a new TV, then that gets it off of the circuit. So just one wire to run and one outlet to install (and additional breaker).

  4. #4
    Electrical Contractor/Instructor jwelectric's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    North Carolina
    Posts
    2,523

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cluesmom View Post
    Hi, new here and don't know a bunch about electricity but will try to be concise.
    Here in lies enough information to say leave everything alone and call an electrician.

    If the breaker trips as soon as it is reset there is a ground fault somewhere in the circuit even if the breaker is weak so to speak.

    If you don't know much about current flow then please for the sake of your Mother let someone take a chance on doing something wrong as one little mistake and your Mom and other family members will be very sad for some time to come. Does the letters R-I-P have any meaning to you at all?

  5. #5

    Default

    Unplug everything on that circuit (to eliminate posible fault sources) and turn off alll switches (to eliminate them as fault sources). Try one more time to reset the breaker then call someone.

  6. #6
    DIY Junior Member cluesmom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    small farm in MN
    Posts
    4

    Default circuit breaker keeps tripping

    Thank you all for the good suggestions. I think we will see what we can come up with this weekend.

    A tiny little suggestion, if I may? Could you send an email with a link when a question on the forum is answered? I waited and waited, hoping I would have an answer and then finally had to find my way back here to see that I had 4 responses.

  7. #7
    DIY Senior Member thassler's Avatar
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Tennessee
    Posts
    106

    Default

    -From the top menu bar choose "User CP"
    -Then under "Settings & Options" choose "Edit Options"
    -There is a place to choose to receive email notifications of your subscribed threads.

    Seems like it defaults to not sending a notification. Same thing happened to me when I first joined; I posted a question and never got an email, went back to check and had a number of responses wondering where I was ...

  8. #8
    DIY Junior Member cluesmom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    small farm in MN
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Thanks for the replies.

    To Thassler I appreciate your taking time to tell me how to do this. All the other forums I am on, I never had to reset anything, it was automatic.

    To Cookie- I guess I should have said I am a 60 YO female who has installed a few ceiling fans and lights so know the bare basics ie; black to black, white to white and ground to metal and have changed out a breaker before and it worked but trying to find where the direct short is I needed some advice. Sorry for not explaining.

    To Jimbo the breakers are marked; such as Living room but not further, front foyer, den... Had never heard of that arc-fault model; will see if I can find one.

  9. #9

    Default

    Even if you would had it just isn't enough. Knowing as you put it, " that you don't know bunches about something as serious as electrical is just crazy. Do you really realize what you are saying? I am not trying to be rude to you, but I am trying to tell you it is above your skill level. You are not even close to the basics. You have no idea what could be wrong and what could happen. It is a horrible way to get a tan, I prefer a tanning bed.

  10. #10

    Default

    I think you forgot to acknowledge jwelectric. His was the best advice given because he does this for a living.



    Quote Originally Posted by cluesmom View Post
    Thanks for the replies.

    To Thassler I appreciate your taking time to tell me how to do this. All the other forums I am on, I never had to reset anything, it was automatic.

    To Cookie- I guess I should have said I am a 60 YO female who has installed a few ceiling fans and lights so know the bare basics ie; black to black, white to white and ground to metal and have changed out a breaker before and it worked but trying to find where the direct short is I needed some advice. Sorry for not explaining.

    To Jimbo the breakers are marked; such as Living room but not further, front foyer, den... Had never heard of that arc-fault model; will see if I can find one.

  11. #11
    DIY Junior Member cluesmom's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    small farm in MN
    Posts
    4

    Default

    Yes, I agree I was seriously remiss in not thanking jwelectric so, a big thanks jwelectric!!!

    Edited to add:

    In re reading some of the posts to me, it seems like a few of you are the cave man type that think women cannot do things like electrical work. This is the very first time I have used the "cave man" angle but:

    I did not burn my bra and I am certainly not a libber but I did start work in the early '70's in a male only profession and retired from that work in 2000 so I am a capable person plus my husband is here to give me guidance but he cannot climb ladders so I am his legs.

    All I asked was a simple question and I got the "little lady" attitude. Sorry I asked...
    Last edited by cluesmom; 04-05-2009 at 11:50 AM. Reason: additional info

  12. #12
    Remodel Contractor GabeS's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2007
    Location
    Brooklyn NY
    Posts
    294

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Billy_Bob View Post
    Have you bought a new TV recently and this is on that circuit?

    New TVs use more power than old.

    Or anything else new on the circuit? (An additional load...)

    That's a lot of rooms for one circuit.

    If overloading is the problem, what you can do in a situation like this is run a new circuit to just one energy hog like a new TV, then that gets it off of the circuit. So just one wire to run and one outlet to install (and additional breaker).
    She said it trips as soon as she resets it, so obviously everything you said can't be true. It has to be a hot wire touching metal somewhere.
    Gabe

    Don't follow my advice, I only know a thing or two about a thing or two.

  13. #13

    Default

    I have nothing more to add.

    I just wanted her to get an email notification and come back

    No that you are back, when the issue is resolved, please let us know what the problem was.

  14. #14

    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by cluesmom View Post
    Yes, I agree I was seriously remiss in not thanking jwelectric so, a big thanks jwelectric!!!

    Edited to add:

    In re reading some of the posts to me, it seems like a few of you are the cave man type that think women cannot do things like electrical work. This is the very first time I have used the "cave man" angle but:

    I did not burn my bra and I am certainly not a libber but I did start work in the early '70's in a male only profession and retired from that work in 2000 so I am a capable person plus my husband is here to give me guidance but he cannot climb ladders so I am his legs.

    All I asked was a simple question and I got the "little lady" attitude. Sorry I asked...


    I seriously do wish you the best, but please do not insult us, or I will speak for me.
    Last edited by Cookie; 04-24-2009 at 03:23 AM.

  15. #15
    Extreme DIY Homeowner Scuba_Dave's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    South of Boston, MA
    Posts
    885

    Default

    Why is it that people here seem to automatically say this is not a DIY issue?
    This is a DIY site last time I looked, she wouldn't be here if she wanted to hire someone
    I'm on other sites where there is MUCH more traffic then this site
    Why? Because pople actually HELP with basic DIY & then go from there. I had a breaker tripping, turned out it was defective light plugged in
    So no-one thinks unplugging everything from the circuit might narrow it down???
    No-one wants to help her because she is a female

    If a switch occaisionally doesn't work then that should be fixed
    Could be a loose wire, failing switch, back stab connection

    Any new pictures nailed up?
    Any recent work - drywall or other completed
    Many people will try to assist you here
    If not do not give up
    There are some other sites out there where people are more then happy to assist everyone

    I really expected more from you too Cookie
    But on this site I guess I shouldn't
    Which is one reason I very rarely ask for help here
    And why I point people towards other sites
    DIY Handyman (not 4 hire)
    I have enough to do to my own house

Bookmarks

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •