3 Way Swith Tripping Breaker

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  #1  
Old 10-12-04, 06:38 PM
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Question 3 Way Swith Tripping Breaker

This is a long distance (850 mile) problem I'm seeking help with for my brother in law. In his 1940's house his kitchen lights are controlled by two 3-way switches. A couple outlets with a TV are also on the same circuit. One switch works just fine. Using the other switch will consistently cause the circuit breaker to trip. If the breaker is attempted to be reset without turning off the offending switch, then there is a little spark in the breaker and it immediately cuts out again-- ie. a very high load being placed on it.

He mentioned in passing that he "had done something" with the misbehaving switch, but I have no more information.

What is the most likely explanation for his problem and the appropriate fix?

Thank you.
 
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Old 10-12-04, 06:42 PM
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He did something before it started misbehaving, or after?
 
  #3  
Old 10-12-04, 07:05 PM
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Originally Posted by John Nelson
He did something before it started misbehaving, or after?
He did not specify. So, I can't really say whether he tried to replace a defective switch and reversed the leads or just aborted an inspection of the defective switch or what.

I would have to give him a call to get the specifics in necessary.
 
  #4  
Old 10-12-04, 07:10 PM
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The specifics are always necessary. There could be a hundred different things wrong.
 
  #5  
Old 10-13-04, 04:55 AM
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Since the overload occurs when he switches the second switch, it is safe to assume that either the ground or the neutral is connected to the switch. SInce this is a 1940s house, I am thinking there probably is no ground on this circuit, so he probably connected a neutral wire to the switch.

Another explanation is that the neutral could be accidently touching one of the screws in the box.
 
  #6  
Old 10-14-04, 05:50 AM
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There possibly could be a fault behind the switch is there any wierd sounds like buzzing, as it could be a wire arching to a neutral causing the fuse to blow, isolate the circuit and chekc out the wiring for any exposed conductors.

If not possibly could be a defective switch.

Ian
 
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