Why are my breakers tripping?

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Old 12-06-09, 08:27 AM
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Unhappy Why are my breakers tripping?

What causes breakers to trip? Been in this house since May and have had no problems. Now all the sudden in 2 rooms of my house were tripping a breaker right & left last night.

I have a brand new 200 amp service. Some wiring in house new, 2 outlets some wiring old. Should I worry about fire? What is happening?
 

Last edited by pcboss; 12-06-09 at 09:43 AM. Reason: readibility
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Old 12-06-09, 09:03 AM
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Space heaters overloading the circuit? Furnace wired into the same circuit as something else?
 

Last edited by pcboss; 12-06-09 at 09:33 AM. Reason: removed comment about spelling
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Old 12-06-09, 09:42 AM
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Breakers trip because of a fault like a short circuit or due to overloads. Overloads mean you are trying to run too many things on one circuit.

If you can tell us what you were using on the circuit that was tripping you can get a better idea of the issue.

How old is the house? What is the rating of the ciruit, commonly either a 15 or 20?
 
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Old 12-06-09, 10:17 AM
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It has become cold lately and people turn on things which heat/warm.

People spend more time indoors and use electric things more.

For the holidays, people have guests over, many rooms in the house might have things turned on all at the same time. Kids in bedrooms, adults in living room, people in kitchen cooking up a storm with all appliances going full blast, etc.

So WHICH specific breakers are tripping?

What all is on each breaker?
 
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Old 12-06-09, 04:26 PM
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Question

I will try my best to answer the questions. caddymac - We did get an additional space heater going in my sons room. Its a 600/900/1500 watt heater depending on how you use it. It was pulling 1500 watts. The only thing new was the heater. Oh I also put up Xmas lights outside this weekend.


I have no clue what circuit the furnace is on. Actually I can't tell ya what is hooked on what breaker. When we bought the house it still had the fuse box system. We upgraded to breakers system and added several outlets throughout the house. The electrician was supposed to let me know what was hooked to what breaker but we haven't gotten that yet.


The house was built in 1900 or possibly 1870's. It was a 4 apt house, to up to down, now its to down & 1 up.


pcboss - I have no clue what the rating of the circuit is.

bill190 - as far as what breaker was tripping, all I can tell you is it was 1 of the smaller breakers n the box.


It started last night. My son was in his room, and one certain outlet keeps giving trouble. Sometimes it seems it isn't even working, sometimes it does. It's an older outlet that was already n the house. He started off with a 6 plug adapter in the outlet, like a power strip. He had the heater, his laptop, his phone charger & TV plugged in. The breaker started tripping, I took out the 6 plug thing & just plugged the heater & his phone charger. It tripped again, he plugged the heater n another outlet, tripped again. Plugged into another outlet it worked fine. Turned on the washer in the kitchen. That breaker tripped also. OK I'm confusing myself now, so I think I'll stop! lol.


Our main concern is we don't want our house burning to the ground. We hadn't had any problems before, then all the sudden. today a breaker tripped when my daughter went to run the vacuum upstairs. That's never happened and the heater in my sons room is off, and the Xmas lights weren't going.


Over the summer at one time we had 4 window air conditioners going at the same time & never tripped a breaker. Don't they pull more power than a small space heater? 1500 watts is what the heaters are, we've had 6 1500 watt heaters going throughout the house for sometime. My sons heater makes 7. But they are all brand new, the 4 AC's are at least 4 yrs old.


I hope I gave enough info and didn't confuse you all!
 

Last edited by pcboss; 12-06-09 at 05:45 PM. Reason: readibilty and understandability
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Old 12-06-09, 04:47 PM
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AC's present a huge load when they start up, but quickly level off. A heater is a continuous load, which will, over time, activate the thermal portion of a circuit breaker.

Why so many space heaters? A properly functioning heating system would negate such a heavy use of so many space heaters.
 
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Old 12-06-09, 04:49 PM
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That's too hard to read, sorry!

(Might try spell check and using paragraphs...)
 
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Old 12-06-09, 05:00 PM
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Over the summer @ 1 time we had 4 window air conditioners goin @ the same time & never tripped a breaker? Don't they pul more power than a smal space heater?
Many ACs pull about half what a 1500 watt heater does. They also are probably on dedicated circuits. If the receptacles the ACs plug into are 120v and you can plug the heater into those without using an extension cord that is where the heater should be plugged in assuming a 20a dedicated circuit.
1500 watts is wat the heaters r, we've had 6 goin throughout the house 4 sum time,
Just to run six 120v space heaters at a time at 1500 watts and do it safely best practice you would need 6 dedicated 20 amp circuits.

The situation you describe is not safe especially on old wiring. Portable electric heaters are only intended for short term temporary heat. You need to look at getting hard wired electric heaters or gas wall furnaces.
 
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Old 12-06-09, 05:31 PM
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Short answer is you are trying to run too many things on one circuit. A 1500 watt heater draws 12.5 amps out of the 15 amp circuit. Additional items like the tv and computer are eating up the rest of the capacity.

I tried to run your post through spellcheck. It choked on it. For everyones benefit please use proper writing skills and not text-speak. Punctuation will greatly enhance the readibility of your posts for everyone. Please proofread also. I know you wanted to give as much info as you could but it was poorly organized and repeated itself.
 
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Old 12-06-09, 06:20 PM
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Now I can read it! Thanks for editing...

Your problem can be resolved by installing new circuits for the things which use a lot of electricity. Like heaters.

The good thing about this is you can have just one new circuit and outlet installed today. Then next month have another installed. (Do a little at a time.)

Might want to call an electrician and get an estimate. In some cases adding one new outlet to an outside wall might be real easy, thus the cost is not too much.
 
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Old 12-06-09, 09:17 PM
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I will give you a very simple advise to you I will qoute from one of our great members if I remember it right " always map the load centre " which it mean when you move in the house double check the circuit dictory listing.

The reason why I menton that so you can see what circuit that will serve what room it goes and how much capicity it can handle.

This part I useally advise to the new homeowner always double check the layout due over the time someone will change the system a bit so some case the oringial writing is not correct locations.

Normally 90% of the time you will able find the breaker amprange marking on the handle it will be on top or on the side or on the breaker housing itself so one of few locations you will see it around.

Normally most circuits are either 15 or 20 amp circuits.

Beside couple other circuits that have much hevier load typically like central air condtioning unit , water heater , electric dryer , range typically useally have two pole breaker and the amp rating will varies depending on what it serve.

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 12-06-09, 11:08 PM
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If you must use the heaters, you'll be a whole lot safer if you run them on the low setting. It will also be much cheaper on the electric bill. They will still heat the rooms.
 
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Old 12-07-09, 09:58 PM
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Rick Johnston - yes we must use the heaters, unfortunately. Our home is over 3,500 square foot and is not insulated at all. So in trying not to have a huge gas bill, we put plastic on windows, using the heaters and sealing doors and windows best we can. I have 2 grandbabies in the home, that can't be freezing. I hear what your saying about running the heaters on low, only thing is when I do so, they run constant. Only if I turn them on high do they kick on and off. So I'm confused as to which would be best?

french277v - I think I understand what you are saying. I did just go and look, all my breakers are 20's except 2, 30 breakers. If I understood you correctly, I have no idea what breaker controls what. When we bought the house it had the old fuse box system, so we upgraded to the breaker system. The electrician that did the work is supposed to give me a map so to say as to what is hooked to what breaker, I've yet to get that.

Bill190 - Sorry you couldn't read. I know how to spell quite well thank you, I was using "texting lingo" so to say to make it as short as possible. I didn't realize this forum was so picky on spelling and using paragraphs.

ray2047 - The heater was plugged into the same outlet that the air conditioner was, so don't understand that? And for your second comment, I have 12, 20 amp breakers, so not getting that one either? Sorry.

Hope this reply better suits everyone.
 
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Old 12-07-09, 10:38 PM
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ray2047 - The heater was plugged into the same outlet that the air conditioner was, so don't understand that? And for your second comment, I have 12, 20 amp breakers, so not getting that one either? Sorry.
I said it would be OK in the AC receptacle if it was a dedicated circuit. That means nothing else on it. Best practice that is how an AC receptacle should be wired. Because of the continuous load of a heater at 1500 watts they should be on a dedicated circuit. That means you should have one breaker for each heater with nothing else on that circuit.

I have seen receptacles used for primary heat for only one winter turn brown from heat and literally crumble when you remove them. I have seen the plugs on electric heaters deteriorate from the heat of continuous use to the point where one of the prongs melts off. I have seen wires burn in to in ceiling lights that fed electric to a receptacle that a heater was plugged into. No it wasn't the notorious aluminum wiring but good old copper. Remember on a multi-use circuit a space heater can cause a fire at any poor connection on the circuit not just at the receptacle it is plugged into. Hope you have plenty of smoke detectors including the attic.

Generally the cost of electric heat is 2-3 times that of gas. Are you sure electric costs less then gas? If so you need to install hard wired electric heaters.
 
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Old 12-08-09, 10:41 AM
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With no insulation in the house, you're playing a losing game against mother nature. You might be better off killing two birds with one stone by opening up some of the exterior walls to install some dedicated circuits and insulate.

There are some rebates on insulation right now. Insulation will only pay for itself over and over through the years.
 
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Old 12-08-09, 04:28 PM
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Not a heating expert but I would think it would be cheaper to heat with gas than electric.

There are insulations that can be installed between existing wall finishes. This will cut your bill for many years to come.

I edited your posts as a courtesy to allow others that don't text speak and read to be able to have input to your situation and to be understandable to more people. I appreciate your later posts being much more readable.
 
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Old 12-08-09, 05:36 PM
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Originally Posted by pcboss View Post
Not a heating expert but I would think it would be cheaper to heat with gas than electric.
Assuming 100% efficiency, 1 Therm of energy can be had from approx. 0.71 gal of fuel oil, 100 cubic feet of natural gas, 1.1 gal of propane, 29 kwh of elec. heat, 8.4 kwh of heat pump heat (COP = 3.5), 4.2 kwh of heat pump heat (COP = 6.9).
 
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