Diagnosing circut problem


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Old 09-15-03, 08:33 AM
J
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Diagnosing circut problem

The same day, after our electric company turned off our power at the meter to fix a "stuck meter", one circut went off and the breaker will not stay on. The electrical company said that it is not their problem and just a coincidence. The circut has recesssed lights, floor outlets, overhead fan and the doorbell. We unplugged lamps plugged into the floor outlets. Three years ago we worked on this circut to move the switches to a different wall. How can we determine the cause of the problem? Of course, over the three years we had many power outages never any problems.
 
  #2  
Old 09-15-03, 10:45 AM
brickeyee
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Buy not stay on do you mean resets to on and then trips off? Disconnect the hot wire from the breaker and see if it will stay on. If it does start checking the wiring box by box. If it will not stay on with no load, replace the breaker. If it does not come on at all, did you push it all the way off before turning it on? The internal mechanism in a breaker disconnects the handle when the breaker trips. This prevent it from being held on by the handle. To reset a breaker you must move it fully off, then on.
 
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Old 09-15-03, 11:14 AM
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I have seen some old breakers that will reset (the handle will stay up), but the circuit will not complete. Sometimes playing with the breaker will make the insides work again, sometimes you'll need to replace it. Do disconnect the wire from the breaker first.
 
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Old 09-20-03, 09:19 AM
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We replaced the breaker and the new breaker also tripped off. Is there a way that we can localize the problem in the circut? On this circut there is wiring in the attic and in the crawl space. It's mainly recessed lights and a fan that is attached. Also, we removed 2 recessed lights and just capped the wires in the attic. Should we start by disconnecting the wire to the splice to see if the problem is before the outlets? Should we next disconnect the switches? What would cause something to come loose? Do you think that the electrical company turning off the power the day the roblem started is just a coincidence and not the cuse of the problem?
 
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Old 09-20-03, 10:36 AM
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Dis-connect the wire from the CB terminal and connect one lead of a test-lamp socket to the wire and the other lead of the TLS to the CB terminal, and insert a hi-wattage (150-200 watts) lamp in the TLS and switch the CB "On". A lamp that burns bright indicates a "fault" in the circuit.

The first step is to switch "Off" all switch-controlled outlets and dis-connect all cord-connections to all receptacles.The next step is to open the Black-wire connections inside the outlet-boxes. If there are any "junction-boxes" in the basement from which cables "branch-out" to various outlets, start checking at these boxes by opening the splices.

If the TLS appears "dim" or goes out entirely, then try re-storing the circuit.

Good Luck & Enjoy the Experience!!!!!!!!!
 
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Old 09-20-03, 10:39 AM
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pick a connection that is in about the middle of the circuit and disconnect and cap the wires. Reset the breaker. if it stays on, the problem is down stream, if not, it is upstream (breaker side) of the open connection. If breaker stays on, turn off breaker and reconnect wires now pick a connection that is midway between the first selected connection and the end of the circuit. Disconnect the wires and cap them off, reset the breaker, if holds, short is downstream if not it is betweent the two selected connections. Keep repeating until only a single segment is left. The same procedure is used on the upstream side. It is called dividing and conquering. You keep cutting the problem circuit in half until you find the problem. This is the fastest way to find them. Otherwise, you are just guessing.
 
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Old 09-20-03, 03:24 PM
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We thank both of you for your replies. We already tried disconnecting a dimmer switch at the beginning of the circut because we thought that that was the only thing that might have gotten damaged. We didn't cap the bare wires while we tested the breaker but they were sticking out freely. Do we have to work at an outlet, or did that tell us that the problem was before that point? Next we plan to go in the attic and disconnect our splice and try the breaker. Going into the attic involves a ladder and walking on rafters, etc., so we will wait for your reply. Are we on the right track?
 
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Old 09-20-03, 04:43 PM
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Yes, you're on the right track. Be careful in the attic.

While you're up there, make sure your splice is in a box, and that all cables are stapled securely within a foot of that box as required by code. Also make sure that those "just capped" wires are in a box too, and that that cable is stapled just outside the box.
 
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Old 09-22-03, 02:26 PM
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A happy ending:

We disconnected the wires at the splice and the breaker stayed on. We were happy just to see that. Just as we were about to start tracing the circut, our exterminator showed up. We had already opened the switch box that was the first outlet after the splice and loosed the switches. He had us switch on the breaker while he observed. The dimmer switch for the disconnected recessed lights made a small clicking noise and jumped slightly. He disconnected the dimmer switch and capped the loose wires and our problem was solved. My husband checked the loose wires that had served the disconneted recessed lights and they appeared okay and the ends were capped and in a junctions box. Do you think the surge when the electric company restarted our power caused this? Or, did we have a dangerous situation?

Thank you for all your help. Our exteminator said that his payment would be our putting up with a few bugs.
 
 

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