Breaker keeps tripping?

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  #1  
Old 10-15-09, 06:01 PM
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Breaker keeps tripping?

We have a type QO 3/4" wide 20 amp breaker switch that keeps tripping, even though there is very little load on it and with everything turned off. This breaker runs part of our guest bathroom and the guest bedroom, which are unused most of the time.

On Thursday the breaker tripped in the middle of the day for no apparent reason - I reset it, and everything was fine. Yesterday I came home from work to find it had tripped again. I tried to reset it, and there was a small visible flash behind the switch, and it immediately tripped. Also I noticed that some of the other lights in the house dimmed/flickered slightly at this time. We replaced it with another used breaker switch, and the same thing - small flash, trips immediately and won't reset to "on."

My husband checked all of the outlets and switches on the breaker, as well as the wires in the attic, and can find no signs of damage anywhere.

Should we try a brand new breaker switch? Is there something else we should look at?

Thoughts/suggestions?
 
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Old 10-15-09, 06:07 PM
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Originally Posted by pmburk View Post
We have a type QO 3/4" wide 20 amp breaker switch that keeps tripping, even though there is very little load on it and with everything turned off. This breaker runs part of our guest bathroom and the guest bedroom, which are unused most of the time.

On Thursday the breaker tripped in the middle of the day for no apparent reason - I reset it, and everything was fine. Yesterday I came home from work to find it had tripped again. I tried to reset it, and there was a small visible flash behind the switch, and it immediately tripped. Also I noticed that some of the other lights in the house dimmed/flickered slightly at this time. We replaced it with another used breaker switch, and the same thing - small flash, trips immediately and won't reset to "on."

My husband checked all of the outlets and switches on the breaker, as well as the wires in the attic, and can find no signs of damage anywhere.

Should we try a brand new breaker switch? Is there something else we should look at?

Thoughts/suggestions?
Do you have GFCI in the guest bathroom ? if so check it out to see if it causing the issue and everything is off and nothing is plugged in if so and do you have any outside receptales as well ??

If no outside receptale then what you need to do is take the GFCI out of the recpetale box BUT DO NOT disconnect the wire at this moment this is very important part you will need to indentify which is line and load side { there will be a wording on back of GFCI device } to tell ya which one it is once you know then unhook the line side and cap it off and turn on the breaker if that do not trip then you may have bad GFCI but if breaker still trip you have issue somewhere else in the system.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 10-15-09, 06:18 PM
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No, this is a 1958 house and we do not have GFCI. Also, the only thing in the bathroom that is on this breaker is a light switch, no outlets. There are 2 outlets in the guest room on it, and a ceiling fan/light.

There is an exterior receptacle that might be on this - hadn't thought of that! Is that a common failure and if so what do we check?
 
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Old 10-15-09, 06:26 PM
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Ok yes, there is an exterior outlet on that breaker.
 
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Old 10-15-09, 06:27 PM
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With outdoor receptale it pretty common failure due you get alot of gunk build up due the cover gasket dry rot and let the water and what else get into the recpectale box.

You need to take the cover off and don't be suprised you may end up see a bit of water and alot of rust stain in there.

with 1958 house and if the wiring is still original I am pretty sure you will need to check the luminaire { light fixture } juctionbox due that where they bring the power source is I am pretty sure the insuliting materals is allready brittle and have it touching each other and cause it short out that one of two possiblty that cause the breaker to trip.

Merci.
Marc
 
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Old 10-15-09, 06:42 PM
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Thanks for the information. The lights in the bathroom were replaced in 2003 and we inspected them and everything is in great shape. Also, the light switches in the bathroom were rewired around that same time, so there should be no problems there.

We did inspect the exterior receptacle and yes, the gasket was completely dry rotted, as well as lots of dirt, cobwebs, etc in there. Also, we have had an unusually large amount of rain lately so it is very possible that it has failed.

Is there a way to completely disconnect the exterior receptacle from the breaker? So we could basically just "kill" that outlet, and try resetting the breaker with that one off?

Thank you so much for your help.
 
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Old 10-15-09, 07:12 PM
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Okay, problem is definitely the outside receptacle/outlet! We removed the outlet completely, planning to replace it with a new one. The wires were exposed but not touching each other or anything else. My husband tried to switch the breaker on, and it tripped immediately. The outlet wires threw a large spark and pop.

Is there a way to cap off this outlet somehow and make it "dead"?
 
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Old 10-15-09, 07:18 PM
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Yes it can be capped off but you will need to find the nearest indoor receptale near the outdoor recpectale and pull it out of the wall and if you have two pairs there unhook one pair and turn on the breaker it that stop tripping you got it right one but if still trip then it the otherway around .

I am pretty sure the cable is pretty much damaged at the Junction box but test this above first then we will go from there what to do the correct repair and end up string up new cable from one junction box to other and add a GFCI recepteale { per NEC code requirement }

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 10-15-09, 07:25 PM
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Okay, that type of work is definitely beyond our expertise and comfort level. However, my husband works with an electrician, so now that we have the problem area isolated, we will have him come and fix things. At least we know where the problem seems to lie so hopefully that will save us some time and money.

Thank you again so much for your help! Merci beaucoup!
 
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Old 10-15-09, 07:53 PM
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Sure., anytime if you have any other question just feel free to pop up here and we will be more than happy to answer your question what you need to be done.

Merci.

Marc
 
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