tripped circuit breaker won't reset

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  #1  
Old 06-16-09, 12:29 PM
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tripped circuit breaker won't reset

the circuit breaker will not reset. the things it controls are ceiling fans and lights. Need help
 
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  #2  
Old 06-16-09, 12:54 PM
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First (and easiest), make sure that you're turning the breaker fully off before you turn it back on. Most trip mechanisms will not allow you to go from "tripped" to "on" directly.

If that's not the problem, you have a short circuit somewhere. It's rare that a light bulb can cause an extended short circuit when it blows, but it's possible. I'd unscrew all the light bulbs first and unplug anything that may be connected.

Next, you may have a shorted wire somewhere. Have there been any changes to the electrical in the house recently? Have you hung any pictures?


(This happened once to a friend. We spent a while tracking down the problem... it ended up being a desk lamp which was touch sensitive (touch it, it goes on, touch it again and it goes off). Something went bad in its circuitry and shorted out.)
 
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Old 06-16-09, 04:20 PM
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A bathroom light fixture was replaced. Now the GFCI will not reset.
 
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Old 06-16-09, 05:07 PM
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Originally Posted by ramz1234 View Post
A bathroom light fixture was replaced. Now the GFCI will not reset.
Sounds like there was a switch loop but you tied all blacks together and all whites together. Pull the light and disconnect and separate all wires. See if the breaker resets. If so let us know along with all wires at the light. You will probably need a test light or analog multimeter.
 
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Old 06-16-09, 07:01 PM
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Just to clarify, is it the circuit breaker or the GFI that won't reset? Or is it a combo unit?

Since the light was recently replaced, it's probably both... but it's hard to troubleshoot without all the information.
 
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Old 06-16-09, 07:13 PM
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the GFI is a combo at the breaker box, It also controls 2 ceiling fans in another room as well as the bathrooms outlets. I will pull the light in the Morning. And then try the breaker again. If it does not reset then, could it be the GFCI needs to be replaced?
 
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Old 06-16-09, 08:15 PM
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Originally Posted by ramz1234 View Post
the GFI is a combo at the breaker box, It also controls 2 ceiling fans in another room as well as the bathrooms outlets. I will pull the light in the Morning. And then try the breaker again. If it does not reset then, could it be the GFCI needs to be replaced?
Your reply is a bit confusing. "And then try the breaker again. If it does not reset then, could it be the GFCI needs to be replaced?" If you are talking about the breaker box they are not separate items. The GFCI is a part of the breaker. Are you are aren't you talking about the breaker?
 
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Old 06-16-09, 11:32 PM
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There is one issue depending on how old this house some case the bathroom have with other items on this circuit and per modern NEC code it not allowed anymore { they stopped doing that mid to late 80's }

There is a diffrence what GFCI breaker look like and GFCI recpetale that can make the big differnce there.

How recent the ceiling fan were installed ? that something is not line up right.



This what the typical GFCI breaker look like

Not very often the GFCI breaker go bad but need more info before we can dig in.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 06-17-09, 05:53 AM
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That is what my breaker looks like. My home was built in 1984. The light fixture was installed a couple of days ago. ( in the bathroom) the ceiling fans are in family and utility room down stairs and were installed years ago. I pulled the light fixture and tried the breaker again, and it still will not reset.
 
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Old 06-17-09, 06:33 AM
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The light fixture was installed a couple of days ago. ( in the bathroom)
Was the light installed to an existing circuit that worked or did you run new cable. If new cable has it ever worked? If not from where and how including the switch and all connections. Include all wires in your description. Was the GFCI breaker there or did you install it?

Just to be sure we are talking about the same thing:
I pulled the light fixture and tried the breaker again, and it still will not reset.
Do you mean the yellow button or the handle?
 
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Old 06-17-09, 07:25 AM
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the light was installed to replace the one that was there, which worked fine, just outdated.No new wires were run. The breaker was there, I did not install, came with the house. the handle is in the center position right now, with the red strip showing, When I try to push to the right and then push to left, it goes right back to the center position with the red strip showing. The yellow button does nothing at this point. It only worked when the breaker could be reset. then you could press the button ( that says test on it) and the breaker would kick off. Now that the breaker will not reset it does nothing.
 
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Old 06-17-09, 08:15 AM
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If you are comfortable working in an open breaker box turn off the main breaker and remove panel cover.
Since there are still hot leads to the main breaker be very careful.
Temporarily remove the wire from another breaker of the same size and put a wire nut on the wire. Move the wire from the affected circuit to that breaker. It doesn't have to be GFCI. Restore power to test.If it works kill power and install light. Test. Kill power and return wires to original breakers.
 
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Old 06-17-09, 10:06 AM
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Right and left mean nothing regarding the position of the breaker handle. That would depend upon the installed position of the breaker.

Move the handle fully to the OFF position, then try to move it to the ON position.

Does it still trip? If so the problem is most likely where the new fixture was installed.
 
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Old 06-17-09, 11:45 AM
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sorry about that. right is off and left is on. it still trips.The light does work but the gfi breaker tripped, and that goes to the bathroom outlets not the light switch in the bathroom. So could the problem be in the outlets and not the light at all????
 
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Old 06-17-09, 12:04 PM
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Is this all on one circuit?

Is the light fixture on the same circuit as the receptacles but wired ahead of the GFI?, ie the light is on but the GFI is still tripped?
 
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Old 06-17-09, 12:19 PM
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Hey ramz...just as an observer on this thread....don't get upset about all the questions. Electrical is one of the worst things to try and diagnose long distance. A/C, cars, small engines all have a standard to go by..but electrical depends on who, what, when, where.

I think what the guys are having a real problem with, is breakers don't normally just "go bad" (though I don't know much about GFCI breakers).

I do have one question..since I think I've seen people have issues with this. Is it a regular lightbulb in the fixture or some sort of CFL?

As I was told when I first got here...more info is sometimes just enough.

Don't mean to confuse the issue.....
 
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Old 06-17-09, 12:53 PM
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Just to help clarify, it sounds like the breaker is tripping (not the GFI). This likely means there's a short somewhere in the wiring.

Did this start happening right after you replaced the light fixture? If it was immediate, chances are you cross-connected some wires incorrectly. We can help you troubleshoot that.

Or did it start happening some time after your replaced and tested the light? In that case, it would probably be a loose connection somewhere that is now creating a short.
 
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Old 06-17-09, 02:31 PM
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To the Pros:
My first thought was the light but I asked him to pull the light and separate the wires. Ramz1234 responded that he had done that.
I pulled the light fixture and tried the breaker again, and it still will not reset.
. That is why I suggested a breaker swap. Guess it could be a wire clamp if metal box.

To Ramz1234: You did disconnect all wires not just those to the light. When you do be sure to mark them so you can put them back correctly.
 
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Old 06-17-09, 03:08 PM
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so many questions, I will try to answer.
I am not sure what you mean by "did I disconnect all the wires? " All I did was take the new light out leaving those wires exposed but nowhere near touching each other. I am not comfortable with doing a "breaker swap".In case I mess that up too.

To zorfdt; the gfi stopped working right after the light was replaced.But once again, the breaker to the light switch is not the gfi breaker.( the light worked ) I connected black to black and white to white and ground to ground.

I am hearing that breakers do not go bad, but could it be, the box is located in my garage in very humid south florida???

pcboss: the light switch is on one breaker and the outlets are on the gfi breaker.
 
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Old 06-17-09, 03:22 PM
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To zorfdt; the gfi stopped working right after the light was replaced.But once again, the breaker to the light switch is not the gfi breaker.( the light worked ) I connected black to black and white to white and ground to ground.
Sorry but I didn't get that from your post. Part of the problem is terminology. Here we often read "GFCI" and "GFCI breaker" as two different things. So the light and the breaker it is on is OK. Good, put it back and lets move on sorry for the confusion.

So you have a GFCI circuit breaker that controls lights and ceiling fans that are not in the bathroom. That breaker will not reset. Is that correct? If you are not comfortable working in the breaker box it may be best to call an electrician. My first test in this situation would be to disconnect the wire from the breaker and see if the breaker resets.
 
  #21  
Old 06-17-09, 03:32 PM
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yes it controls 2 ceiling fans ( that have lights in them ) it also controls 3 bathroom outlets. I will try to to disconnect the wire from the breaker . Not sure what you mean by " see if it resets" do you mean with no wire to the breaker I may be able to reset it.?
 
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Old 06-17-09, 03:37 PM
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yes the fans are not in the bathroom.
 
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Old 06-17-09, 04:14 PM
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Not sure what you mean by " see if it resets" do you mean with no wire to the breaker I may be able to reset it.?
If the breaker is good with the black wire to it disconnected it will reset. Just to eliminate the unlikely I would also disconnect the white wire, the one from the cable to the breaker (not the coiled lead).
 
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Old 06-17-09, 04:40 PM
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This is sounding like it involves 2 different circuits. Perhaps the OP could clarify.

Please state what happened again after the fixture was changed.

Does this involve the receptacles or GFIs? I have read that the light works but the GFI will not reset. I am confused.
 
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Old 06-17-09, 06:19 PM
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I shut the main breaker down, the circuit breaker would reset. But as soon as I turned the main breaker back on it tripped. I have not taken the wires out of the breaker as of yet, now that it is dark outside.
to answer pcboss: I replaced a light in my bathroom, turned the main breaker back on, checked the light to see if it worked, it did. However, the gfi breaker was tripped and I could not get it to reset. I was then told to pull the light and see if the gfi breaker would reset, it would not. There was some confusion about the light being associated with the gfi breaker. It is on a separate breaker. So I was told to put the light back up and proceed from there. I have put the light back up. It still works. I am thinking that the gfi breaker is not working is really not related to the bathroom light ,. But at one point I was asked if I had changed anything of late.So of course I said I changed the light fixture. all breakers work except the GFi Breaker. this breaker controls all bathroom receptacles (outlets) and 2 ceiling fans. ( fans are not in the bathrooms ) and two other receptacles (outlets).
 
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Old 06-17-09, 06:45 PM
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Thanks for the clarification. As I understand it now the problem is just that either a GFI breaker or receptacle will not reset.

Try to remove everything plugged in from the receptacles and see if it will reset and advise.
 
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Old 06-17-09, 06:55 PM
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Shutting off the main breaker and then being able to reset the problem breaker shows no mechanical problem but does not rule out an internal electrical problem with the breaker. The problem is probably in one of the fixtures or a Jbox on the circuit but you will have to start at the center of the circuit isolating each segment then reconnecting to determine where the problem is. Thats a lot of work so I would want to make sure the breaker was OK first.

While the experts here are advising you correctly that breakers seldom fail I use to do maintenance on two apartment complexes with weirdly installed rebuilt window air conditioners that seemed to "eat" breakers so my viewpoint is bit different. (Yep, pros I always used an amprobe before condemning a breaker.)
 
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Old 06-17-09, 11:08 PM
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Originally Posted by ramz1234 View Post
I shut the main breaker down, the circuit breaker would reset. But as soon as I turned the main breaker back on it tripped. I have not taken the wires out of the breaker as of yet, now that it is dark outside.
to answer pcboss: I replaced a light in my bathroom, turned the main breaker back on, checked the light to see if it worked, it did. However, the gfi breaker was tripped and I could not get it to reset. I was then told to pull the light and see if the gfi breaker would reset, it would not. There was some confusion about the light being associated with the gfi breaker. It is on a separate breaker. So I was told to put the light back up and proceed from there. I have put the light back up. It still works. I am thinking that the gfi breaker is not working is really not related to the bathroom light ,. But at one point I was asked if I had changed anything of late.So of course I said I changed the light fixture. all breakers work except the GFi Breaker. this breaker controls all bathroom receptacles (outlets) and 2 ceiling fans. ( fans are not in the bathrooms ) and two other receptacles (outlets).
I don't know if I did miss it by Kilometers but can you fill me in with " and two other receptales " ??

I have a feeling somewhere along the line something is tripping the GFCI what you need to do is double check the netural and ground { bare or green conductor } make sure they are not touching each other at all otherwise it will trip as soon you power up.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 06-18-09, 11:18 AM
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hey everyone, thanks for all the information. It dawned on me last night that one other receptacle was on this circuit, an outside one that I never use. Even though it has a cover on it, it had dirt in it. Cleaned it out and reset the breaker and all is fine in my world. Maybe I could replace the cover? Anyway thanks for the ton of great information.
 
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Old 06-18-09, 12:24 PM
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Depending on the type of cover, you might be able to just replace the gasket to get it to seal better. Did you replace the outside receptacle?
 
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Old 06-18-09, 03:36 PM
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With outdoor receptales make sure you get the gasket sealed proplely and normally in the NEC code we have to use the bubble cover for all outdoor useage if direct path of rain etc but check the " flapper " to make sure they seal up pretty nice if feel stiff or brittle then it is good time to replace it.

The reason why if you spend couple bucks and do it right it will not get ya for many years.

Merci,Marc
 
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