Why is my breaker tripping

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  #1  
Old 11-18-04, 09:07 AM
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Why is my breaker tripping

On Sunday no power at the bathroom outlets, tried trippnig GFCI, no luck went to breaker box to re-set. Breaker wouldn't re-set/trips instantaneously. After church I pulled the receptacles out hoping to see something obvious, but nope.

I've pulled every receptacle with no apparent broken or shorted wires. My wife commented that it had been awhile since the breaker had tripped, back in the spring it did it a fair amount but it's always reset fine. I thought maybe the breaker had gone weak or bad and replaced it but no go there either.

Other than running new ciruits, wiring house additions etc I've never done much electrical so I don't really know the troubleshooting steps to take next.

Any suggestions?

Could it be a bad receptacle? Shorted internally or something.

If it could be I could just buy a couple and go around replacing each one in sequence until the problem rights itself. Or is there a troubleshooting logic tree to follow.

Thanks

Frank
 
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Old 11-18-04, 10:35 AM
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You need to determine which outlets are affected by the tripped C-B, and then dis-connect the "loads" from the affected outlets, such as removing the cord-plugs froom all receptacles, and switching all liting fixtures "Off".The objective is to "isolate" the Black wire of the circuit from all possible paths that conduct current. This would include a "fault-current" path that would trip the C-B.

You can check if the Black is isolated by connecting a 200 watt lamp between the C-B terminal and the Black wire which terminates on the C-B.Full illumination of the 200 watt lamp indicates a fault-current path. The most common type of fault is a "fault-to Ground", i.e., to a metal surface of an outlet-box, or to the bare wire of a non-metallic cable which Grounds the receptacles.

If you have full-illumination with the 200 watt lamp-connection, check the Black wire at all outlets while looking for any change in the illumination of the test-lamp. "Bright-to-less bright", or "Lamp Off" should indicate the fault is cleared.

Good Luck & Enjoy the Experience!!!!
 
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Old 11-18-04, 11:10 AM
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OK, I had already kind of done that. Nothing is plugged in and I had pulled the receptacles out looking for anything amiss inside each box. I didn't see anything obviously wrong.

Do you mean to unhook the black lead from the breaker and hook the light in between the screw and the black lead? I unhooked it and it's reading 110 Volts with my voltmeter.

I guess if I go around and disconnect each receptacle in turn that will isolate the one that has the short in it?

Frank

Well, I just went around disconnecting each in turn and lo and behold the one in the master bath, coincidentally the only one that generally has anything plugged into it seems to have cleared the problem.

Thanks for all you're help.

Frank
 

Last edited by slumlordfrank; 11-18-04 at 11:27 AM.
  #4  
Old 11-18-04, 03:09 PM
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Well, I guess I spoke too soon. I may have been unhooking a few at a time when I said it was the one in the master bath. I re-hooked it and all was good. Then I went around re-hooking the others in turn and all was good until I got to the LAST RECEPTACLE on that circuit.

When I hooked it up the breaker tripped, thinking the receptacle itself might be bad I replaced it but same result. I couldn't see anything obviously shorting inside, either the ground to the black lead or anything to the box (which is metal btw).

Since this receptacle is outside I just capped the leads for now, popped the receptacle back in and put the metal cover back on. This receptacle is on the north side of the house so the wind can blow some rain into it and it's mounted on stone so I don't think it gets a real good seal.

I guess when I've got time I'll get back inside it. Unless you can point me in a definite direction.

Thanks

Frank
 
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