Broken Circuit - Outdoor Lights


Old 04-27-06, 09:01 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 93
Broken Circuit - Outdoor Lights

Okay, let me see if I can explain this properly. I had an Intermatic timer (located inside) which controlled my outdoor lights. All of a sudden it stopped working. The circuit breaker had popped up, causing the timer to malfunction, and I had to replace it. Fine, no problem so far. I bought a new one and installed it, and when I turned on the circuit breaker again it blew out again (frying the timer again). I've installed this timer & another one in the back of the house, and I'm not installing it differently. I know I'm not doing it wrong. Something has changed, causing this circuit breaker to pop any time the switch is in the 'ON' position.

This is what I know:

* The circuit runs like this - from the switch, the wire runs to an inside light in the foyer, then to two outside wall lanterns and an outlet, then to a lamppost by the driveway, and then to some side lights along the driveway.

* The side lights have never worked since I've been there. Maybe the wire is damaged somewhere after the lamppost, but even so it's always been that way so that's not different now.

* I recently had an underground oil tank removed right next to the lamppost. As I was tilling the dirt to prepare for planting a new lawn, I pulled up the wire & saw there was one spot wrapped in electrical tape & one spot where the rubber was torn & the wire was slightly exposed. I don't know if the guys removing the tank cut the wire & repaired it without telling me or if that electrical tape is really old. I cleaned the exposed spot, taped it over & tested the switch, but the breaker still popped when I turned on the light (I used a standard switch). Something tells me this is the problem, as the lights stopped working right around the time the oil tank was removed, but the portion of the wire where the digging had been done is all fine, except for those two spots.

* One of the wall lanterns has no top. It may have fallen off (and broken) a couple of weeks before the oil tank was removed. There is a huge pile of dead moths caked around the bulb. I thought maybe water had gotten in there because the top is off of the light, and that's the problem, but I can't be sure.

Those are the facts. I'm out of ideas. Obviously nobody on this board can see the situation in person, but from the information I've given, does anyone have any advice for how I should proceed? Any input would be greatly appreciated.

Sponsored Links
Old 04-27-06, 09:22 PM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 133
Broken Circuit - Outdoor Lights

You have a dead short in your wiring. Thats why the breaker is tripping. You have to check the wiring out to find where the short is. Thats also why you damaged the timer when you closed the breaker. The fault current was so high that it burned the timer and contacts.
Old 04-28-06, 05:25 AM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
As was stated, you have a short. It might or might not have been caused by the people who removed the tank.

The wire you found that was damaged needs to be replaced. While there are approved ways to splice wire, electrical tape is not one of them.

While you are at it, you might as well get everything on the circuit working. Check each location on the circuit and verify proper power at each. Replace the bad section or sections of cable.
Old 05-07-06, 09:17 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 93
Thanks for the help!

I cut out the damaged section & bought a new wire to reconnect the circuit. You were correct that this was a dead short. I was able to get my inside light, outlet & wall lanterns working. There's no short - however the last item on the circuit (the lamppost) doesn't work. Is it possible one of my connections isn't connected properly? I'd like to get some final input before I dig the wire up and spend the time checking (it's buried underneath a newly planted lawn).

Thanks again for the advice. What a great website - I'm kind of a novice at this stuff & the answers I get are always right on the money and extremely helpful!
Old 05-07-06, 09:40 PM
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: NE Wis / Paris France{ In France for now }
Posts: 4,808
for the post lumiaire this what you have to do this to rule it out

1] disconnect the wire before the post [ if not working start there ] and get a dvm [ make sure you turn breaker off on this circuit first ] then set on ohm and "ring" the wire you should see very low or if have tone sound that mean you have close circuit but if no sound or anything then go next step is

at lumiaire post check connection to make sure there is no corrosion or any kind of gunk screw up connection and yes some post do have electric eye to actaive the lumiaire [ you will see red wire that go to the lumiaire socket if have it ]
if not then screw new light bulb or light bulb known working then try to ring it again if fail then it mean you have a open circuit underground .

but do test with electric eye disconnected [ please note how it connected before you remove the electric eye ]

it should slove it there

Merci , Marc

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes