Bad Circuit Breaker or Loading problem?

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  #1  
Old 08-01-05, 11:26 AM
ChristopherB
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Bad Circuit Breaker or Loading problem?

To anyone who can help.
I just moved into a new home in California, which is about 16 years old. In the guest room, when booting up a computer the lights dim as I hear the computer crunching data. I assume this is a loading issue that I can live with, at least for the near future.
I then purchase a new TV for the mstr Bdrm, plug it in, turn it on, and with in about 10 minutes it trips the breaker and the room goes dark. I reset the breaker and all is working again. I turn the TV back on and in about 10 minutes it trips again, I reset it. The next night, my wife turns on the TV and the room goes dark, but then come back in 10sec or so...This happens a couple of time. I ran an extention cord to an outlet on a different circiut and now the TV is fine, but the mstrbdrom circuit is still tripping even without the TV on that circuit.
Does this sound like a circuit breaker is going bad and I can just replace it one for one? Or does this indicate a much larger problem???
Thanks for your help.
 
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Old 08-01-05, 11:42 AM
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It's a very simple problem. You've got more on this circuit than it can handle. Move some of the stuff to another circuit. But if you have to use extension cords to do it, you should instead have an electrician put in another circuit to this area.
 
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Old 08-01-05, 02:51 PM
ChristopherB
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not making sense to me.

I didn't have this problem before I plugged in the TV in the mstrbdrm, but still have the problem after the TV is removed. Now the circuit is tripping all the time, and it hadn't tripped once in the previous month. Any idea on why?
Thanks again.
 
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Old 08-01-05, 03:00 PM
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Are you sure the TV is on a different circuit? Just because it's plugged into a different room doesn't mean it's a different circuit. Does the TV go off when the rest of the stuff goes off?
 
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Old 08-01-05, 03:41 PM
ChristopherB
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TV Stays on.

No, the TV does not go off when the rest of the stuff goes of, as it is plugged into a different room using an extention cord. The circuit that goes go off did not have this problem before, and now it seem's to just trip by itself. No lights on, only a ceiling fan, and the power goes out. In the past we have had all the lights on, hairdryer running ect. without problem.
Please let me know if there is any other info I can provide for clarity.
Thx
 
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Old 08-01-05, 04:37 PM
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The next night, my wife turns on the TV and the room goes dark, but then come back in 10sec or so...This happens a couple of time.
Power came back to the MBR by itself? If there were no power dips or outages at the time, that could be an indication of a more serious (and dangerous) problem.

You can certainly replace the breaker easily enough - they do fail occasionally. Just remember to shut off the main breaker and don't touch anything but the plastic parts of the breaker or the wire when disconnecting and removing the old one and installing and reconnecting the new one. Keep one hand in your pocket. WARNING -There is still live electricity in parts of a panel even when the main breaker is off. If you are uncomfortable working in such an environment you should call an electrician. You will need a breaker that is the same value - 15A probably - that is listed for use in your panel. You can get the information you need off the label on the door of the panel. You will need the mfg and panel type and or model number at the very least. Some have compatible breaker types listed on the label also.
 
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Old 08-01-05, 08:30 PM
ChristopherB
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Exclamation OK, This is kind of scary.

Tonight, I when I tried to reset the breaker, I heard a kind of buzz-crackleing coming from the box. I look into where the noise was coming from and saw a blueish electrical light from right above the circuit breaker in question.
What do you think, change the breaker because of a probable short, or call in a pro? Cost is an issue.
Thx
Chris
 
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Old 08-01-05, 09:45 PM
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Chris, I've been just following this thread but thought I would drop in here. You should probably turn the main breaker off when you change out the branch circuit breakers. You may need to have someone hold a flashlight for you. Do you happen to know the maker of the circuit breaker panel? Arcing is not good in the main panel you may seriously need to consider calling in a pro to have a look see at whats going on.
 
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Old 08-01-05, 09:48 PM
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That buzzing, bluish light that you are seeing is _not_ a short circuit. It is an _arc_. An arc may be present in any situation where electricity can crosses a gap through the air, ionizing the air as it goes. An arc _may_ be present when there is a short circuit, but what I believe that you are seeing is a 'series' fault, where the electricity passes through the air on its way through the regular circuit.

This arc is extremely hot, much hotter than an ordinary flame. This heat can cause the breaker to trip at much lower than rated current. This arc could easily ignite any flammable material nearby. You should turn this breaker off immediately, and leave it off until you get the problem diagnosed.

An arc is generally caused by a loose connection.

If you are lucky, this is just a bad breaker, with bad switch contacts that are working loose and arcing. It might also be the case that the wire attached to the breaker is loose.

If you are unlucky, this is a bad connection between the breaker and the main bus on the panel. The arc can erode the bus itself, damaging it to the point that you need to replace the breaker panel.

-Jon
 
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Old 08-02-05, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by ChristopherB
and saw a blueish electrical light from right above the circuit breaker in question
Turn off the affected circuit breaker(s), and call in a professional to inspect this problem. Arcing in the panel box can lead to severe damage of your panel or a nasty electrical fire. Have this evaluated quickly. Even if you swap the breaker for a new one and that stops the arcing, you should have an electrician examine the panel box interior to make sure there is no damage.
 
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