Tripped breaker - no reason?


Old 08-03-06, 02:09 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Las Cruces, NM -Zone 8
Posts: 289
Tripped breaker - no reason?

15A breaker serving a few lights:
2 kitchen ceiling
1 laundry rm ceiling & vent fan
2 garage ceiling
2 garage outer wall lights

Only devices in use were the 2 75W garage ceiling lights. I left and came back moments later to find the breaker tripped. Clean reset and no further trips.

Over the years, I've seen a breaker or two "wear out" & needing replacement. Do they need to be "excersized" from time to time to ensure "clean" operation?

If so, can I write this event off (with a watchful eye) to a random event or should I consider it as a problem?

I've never seen a breaker trip "just because".
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Old 08-03-06, 02:27 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: New Bern, NC
Posts: 1,623
With the panel cover on use the back of your hand and see if any of the breakers feel hot. Warm like a heat blanket on low is ok. I have seen a breaker getting hot that would not trip, but the heat transfered to a more sensitive breaker that did trip.

Tracking down an intermittant problem is almost impossible during the times that it is working. So the watchfull eye is the best aproach.

And yes, Breakers should be exercisied based on the mfg suggestions, usually about once a year.
Old 08-03-06, 03:26 AM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Las Cruces, NM -Zone 8
Posts: 289
A watchful eye will be kept

A heat check was the first thing I did, being it happened it the few moments I was gone. Before & after the reset and then again a while later. Nothing was even slightly warm Checked all breakers including main. It's something I do from time to time anyway out of habit.

It has been windy and rainy lately, but not today. The main panel is inside but right near the leaky sealed (judging by the desert dirt, no moisture in that corner) garage roll-up door.

It IS the circuit that I put a motion switch on (a month ago) for those garage ceiling lights and it was in the "manual" mode. Being it was the only part of the circuit energized, I wonder if the Cooper switch may have faulted for a moment.
Old 08-03-06, 08:23 AM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Near Lansing, Michigan
Posts: 10,335
You could have an overstripped hot wire or loose wire nut in a box that contacted a ground briefly. I've seen that cause intermittent GFCI trips before, but it could trip a standard breaker too.
Old 08-03-06, 09:09 AM
Join Date: Apr 2006
Location: New Bern, NC
Posts: 1,623
I don't buy the over stripped wire theroy since noone was mucking in the boxes at the time this happened.

I would be concerned a bit. Might you have critters in the attic, or crawl space?

The wind also could have made someting rattle.

Or the breaker could be getting old.

I suggest getting an electrican to check all the wires on that ciruit with a megger to see if there is any dammage to them.
Old 08-03-06, 01:12 PM
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2005
Location: Las Cruces, NM -Zone 8
Posts: 289
When I did the motion switch, I gave a good close check to the box contents. I can get anal and with electric - why not. Everything before and after the "upgrade" seemed secure and proper. I don't tend to over-strip wires and tend to "clean" those up when I find them.

There could be something to the "rattle" theory and that has been popping to mind ever since. Reason being that the switch box is next to the door that I exited thru before it tripped. Garage switch on one side and laundry room 3-way switch on the other (same circuit).

I "upgraded" the laundry 3-way switches as well (paddle style - one illuminated). That door can get a good slam to it from the swamp cooler running. - EDIT: I should say having to slam it when the swamper is running.

The laundry switch was done more recently than the garage so I think I'll tear that one back down and recheck it as well as the others.

But the main point I'm making is the door slam, being the only event, keeps sticking out in my rethink of events. And that breaker has seen a lot of usage recently with doing the "upgrades" one at a time.

So - there COULD be something to the rattle theory being the cause an/or worn breaker.

If I can't find anything obvious, it'll get put on my electrician's list.

Last edited by Cienega32; 08-03-06 at 06:25 PM.

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