help with circut breaker failure

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  #1  
Old 12-08-04, 07:28 AM
rangerbill
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help with circut breaker failure

i am new here, but have lurked here to find help with problems a bit. good forums here, but i can not seem to find anything that matches my problem.

first, i am somewhat versed in household electrical wireing. i can wire in almost anything in the home, even my mobile home disconnect. so i know whats hot, and am very safety cautious with electrical. after all with this stuff a person may not get a chance to say "oops!" its the trobleshooting that grounds me out.

ok i have a circut that carries 4 recepticles, 6 lights and 1 switch wired recepticle. on a double pole, 15 amp breaker. that i have replaced with a 20 amp.( it was all the store had). the new breaker does not to attach to the pole as tightly as the old one and i may return it. i have removed all of the appliances from the recepticles, but it still flips the breaker. only on the one side of the breaker, the other circut stays hot.

the strange symptoms are. when the breaker is reset, it may last for hours before flipping it, and rarely it will flip as soon as it is reset. the lights never flicker or waver even just prior to the breaker kicking, just snap and they are gone. with the old breaker, there was the smell of electrial burning at the breaker box. but with the new breaker it dosn't do this.

can anyone offer any suggestions? I think my next logical step would be to remove the recepticles and inspect them.

thanks, i sorta bewildered.
 
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  #2  
Old 12-08-04, 07:33 AM
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You have a problem here and it seems you will need an electrician to troubleshoot. Breakers generally do not trip for no reason at all; some current is going somewhere. Replacing a 15 with a 20 is a recipe for a fire, since the wiring is probably rated for 15 only, and now you are tripping a 20.
 
  #3  
Old 12-08-04, 07:39 AM
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A double pole breaker means you have a shared neutral circuit. You need to be extra careful on such a circuit, and you definetely don't want to increase the breaker size. The leg that trips is the problem one. You need to find out what exactly is on that circuit. A short will trip the breaker right away, it will not take several minutes. There is something still plugged into that circuit that you didn't find.
Double pole breakers should also be tied together (the handles I mean), so that one 1 trips they both do.
 
  #4  
Old 12-08-04, 07:44 AM
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I wonder why you replaced the breaker in the first place. Was it not working?

Shut off the 20-amp breaker and leave it off until you find the proper 15-amp breaker. Also, make sure you get the exact make and model for your panel. The fact that you said that it does not attach as tightly suggests you have the wrong breaker. Both of these problems are very serious hazards. You don't want to burn your house down during the holiday season.

Did you do anything else other than replace the breaker?

Do you understand multiwire circuits?
 
  #5  
Old 12-08-04, 08:06 AM
rangerbill
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the double pole breakers are not tied together as each pole is 110.this breaker seems to be two seperate 110 breakers made together. the circut comes into the box, the black to the breaker screw, the white to the ground pole. on each circut, for each side or pole of the breaker.

i know its not good to go up on the amps but it was the only size the store had. but yes i am going to take the new one out and return it, and put the old one back in. its not the problem anyway. the reason i changed breakers was the smell at the box, plus with the lights not flickering it did not indicate to me a direct short.

also, i thought it could be the breaker as it does not usually flip right away. sometimes it takes hours. some times 30 to 45 minutes.

but for safety i do keep it shut off.

thanks for the quick responses
 
  #6  
Old 12-08-04, 08:20 AM
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Multiwire (shared neutral) circuits are more difficult to troubleshoot. You still need to find everything on that circuit. I've seen defective breakers trip by themselves, but not with no load attached. I'm still leaning toward something that's still plugged (like a motor, pump, fan, heat strip, something that puts a load on the system. An ammeter will tell you exactly how much current flows through that breaker.
 
  #7  
Old 12-08-04, 09:09 AM
rangerbill
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Bingo! Trinitro!

Ok, I found it, A recepticle that i never woulda thought would be on that circut. It was the one underneath my Moble Home. I thought it was a GFI and on a rarely used circut. But i do have a tornado shelter circut plugged into that recepticle. Plugged in so it could be disconnected at will. the only thing running in the shelter was a Dehumidifier. which could explain the varying times to kick the breaker. the dehumidifier coming on.

but reguardless, that should not have been on that circut. that is too much of a load for that circut along with everything else.

i did pull the recepticle to find the wires burned. I will replace the outlet. and then take that new breaker out and put the old one back. and trade the new one in on one for the shelter to be wired in directly.

THANKS ALL!
 
  #8  
Old 12-08-04, 10:18 AM
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This is not a multiwire circuit, so you can ignore all comments in this thread which talk about it. I'm glad you found your problem.

Part of the confusion came from your use of the term "double pole breaker". What you have is what most of us would call a tandem or twin or skinny breaker. Although it is true that such a breaker does have two poles, and also true that some (not many) manufacturers do refer to this as "double-pole", it is not what most people think of when they hear that term. Most people think 240 volts when they hear "double pole", although that is not necessarily a good assumption.
 
  #9  
Old 12-08-04, 12:00 PM
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How wide is your breaker? Also, how many nothes does it have on the "bottom" (the part that snaps into the panel)?

The only reason I'm asking is because rangerbill said "this breaker seems to be two seperate 110 breakers made together", which is the typical setup of a true double-pole breaker. Normally it comes with a handle tie, but sometimes people take them off...
 
  #10  
Old 12-09-04, 06:30 AM
rangerbill
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the breaker is the same size as the 220 v or takes up a double slot in the breaker box cover. it has two handles that are not tied together. the 220v are tied together. but this breaker has two seperate 110 circuts.

ok heres a strange one that'll confuse you, in my box theres a breaker that has four handles, it appears to be two seperate two pole breakers. but the center two handles are joined by a small bar between the handles with a small roller sleeve on the bar. BTW all the breakers are marked "bryant"

but thanks T!
 
  #11  
Old 12-09-04, 07:43 AM
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That's what's called a "quad" breaker.
 
  #12  
Old 12-10-04, 01:55 PM
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Originally Posted by rangerbill
ok heres a strange one that'll confuse you, in my box theres a breaker that has four handles, it appears to be two seperate two pole breakers. but the center two handles are joined by a small bar between the handles with a small roller sleeve on the bar. BTW all the breakers are marked "bryant"

but thanks T!

I'm not sure if it is a bryant, but I also have one of these in my breaker box. The first and last "switch" are tied together, and the 2nd & 3rd (middle two) are tied together. Gives me two 30AMP 220 breakers...one handles my water heater, the other handles my dryer...

I also have three of the afore mentioned "twin" 20AMP 110V breakers, giving me six 110V circuits...

Weird thing is they used these in my box, yet left 6 or maybe even 8 (I'd have to look) spaces open. I'm glad they did though, as my box would be nearly full otherwise.
 
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