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Vacuum tripping circuit breaker but only in ONE receptacle on the circuit

Vacuum tripping circuit breaker but only in ONE receptacle on the circuit

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  #1  
Old 04-08-10, 02:33 PM
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Vacuum tripping circuit breaker but only in ONE receptacle on the circuit

Hello,

I have a relatively new home (about 2.5 years old)

I recently noticed when trying to run a vacuum in one particular receptacle in one of the spare bedrooms that it tripped the circuit breaker.

At first I suspected a problem with the vacuum since I noticed some hair caught in the brush and a full canister. However, even after a thorough cleaning of the vacuum the problem continued to occur repeatedly immediately after trying to turn the vacuum on. This even occurred if I tilted the vacuum so the brush would not have any resistance from the carpet (in theory to further reduce the startup load). This same vacuum works fine from several other outlets in the house.

To my knowledge there were no lights or appliances of any kind which were drawing power on the same circuit as the vacuum which I was attempting to use. Based on the builders labeling on my circuit breaker box the only possible item that may have been drawing some power at that time would be some hardwired smoke detectors (which I can't imagine would draw that much of a load) that according to the labeling on my breaker box may be connected to that same circuit.


To make things more interesting, I tried the same vacuum on a different receptacle in the same bedroom (on the same circuit) and it did NOT trip the breaker.

The breaker itself seems to be a 20 amp breaker with a built in test button (which I believe means its a GFI circuit?) I tested the breaker several times with by resetting it and using the test button and that seems OK. If I reset the breaker I can use the vacuum in that other receptacle in the room, but if I try the one receptacle in question (either outlet on it) it will immediately trip the breaker.

Neither my wife or I can specifically recall trying the vacuum in this receptacle before so we can't say for certain if this receptacle has ever worked properly with this vacuum


This leads me to conclude that I have either a faulty receptacle or some sort of wiring problem with that one receptacle. My thought was that I should replace this one receptacle and be careful to check the wiring at the same time (check the box for loose wire nuts, etc)

However, since I am not an electrician I would appreciate any advice or recommendations in the matter.

Two other pieces of information which may or may not be relevant:

1) I formerly had a multifunction printer plugged into this same receptacle where the vacuum problem occurs and the transformer went out and started making some noises. We unplugged the printer after we noticed this (the transformer had also seemed hotter than normal) but since this is in a back room we are not in all that often, so we cannot say for certain how long this transformer had been defective before we noticed the noise and unplugged it. Could this have somehow damaged the receptacle in question?

2) I recently install a ceiling fan in this same bedroom. All rooms in the house were pre-wired for a ceiling fan with two wall switches (one for the fan and one for the lights) so I only had to make the connections in the ceiling box and wire up the fan to the existing capped wires that were already run to the ceiling box. I was very careful when wiring the fan it and wired it up per the instructions. It is also the exact same model ceiling fan that I had already previously installed in 4 other rooms in the house so I had experience with this exact setup and they were all wired up the exact same way. Thus I would think it unlikely that I made a mistakes in wiring it. The ceiling fan and the light kit on the fan both work fine and were switched off at the wall at the time of the vacuum issue.

Does anyone have any suggestions or ideas. I have for example read that some vacuums can introduce noise that trips the GFI. However, if that were the cause I would expect this to happen on ANY receptacle in that bedroom circuit and not just on the one receptacle.

I appreciate in advance any input you can provide.


Thanks,

ek_skotous
 
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  #2  
Old 04-08-10, 02:48 PM
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are you sure its not a AFCI? arc fault breaker? and is it tripping the breaker or the test button?
 
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Old 04-08-10, 02:52 PM
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Thanks for the quick reply.

I am sorry, but I am not sure what the proper name would be for the type of circuit it is. Probably whatever code would require for a bedroom on new contruction (since its a new house)

There is no test button on the recepticle (outlet) itself just at the breaker. Its tripping the actual breaker. I have to go the breaker box on the side of the house to reset it each time.
 
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Old 04-08-10, 02:53 PM
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Could be that the outlet is damaged or worn...that could cause a bad connection thus having a voltage drop thus causing the vac to pull more current thus tripping the breaker.

Lota thus' there huh?

Could also be the last outlet in the line..but if connected properly that shouldn't be an issue.

I bet if you cut the power and remove the outlet you will find either a loose connection..or the outlet was wired with the "stab in" connections on the back. Move those to the screws and I bet the problem goes away.
 
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Old 04-08-10, 03:36 PM
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To my knowledge there were no lights or appliances of any kind which were drawing power on the same circuit as the vacuum which I was attempting to use. Based on the builders labeling on my circuit breaker box the only possible item that may have been drawing some power at that time would be some hardwired smoke detectors (which I can't imagine would draw that much of a load) that according to the labeling on my breaker box may be connected to that same circuit.
I would turn off the breaker and make sure nothing else is on that circuit. I see no reason there would be a dedicated circuit in the bedroom. Take vacuum or a light and plug it into the other receptacles in bedroom to check for power (or a meter if you got 1).. Check other rooms and lights to see exactly what is on that circuit. It could of been the end of a run outlet on a different circuit than the others. I can only guess though.. So check it out and see what you got.

The breaker itself seems to be a 20 amp breaker with a built in test button (which I believe means its a GFI circuit?) I tested the breaker several times with by resetting it and using the test button and that seems OK. If I reset the breaker I can use the vacuum in that other receptacle in the room, but if I try the one receptacle in question (either outlet on it) it will immediately trip the breaker.
Is it a 20amp? Its either GFCI protected or AFCI protected prob AFCI and the vacuum is all to well known to make these trip. Though this would not explain why only this one particular outlet is tripping the AFIC or GFCI (it should say on the breaker which is which.) I would see exactly whats on the circuit 1st.
 
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Old 04-08-10, 03:40 PM
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Last edited by ray2047; 04-08-10 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 04-08-10, 04:15 PM
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Well come on guys.....if the breaker doesn't trip when its plugged into another outlet on the same circuit...what would you look at first? Other stuff or that specific problem outlet....?

Just messin (mostly)...but he just wants it fixed. Start at the source or the only not common element of the problem. Hmmm lets see...had a transformer go bad in the same outlet. Did that damage the outlet? Or did the outlet somehow damage the transformer?

95% of the time...the simple solution is the answer. Its the other 5% that gets people the big bucks...lol
 
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Old 04-08-10, 04:23 PM
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Lol i hear ya. But with that being said he was not fore sure what exactly was on that circuit either.. It maybe the end of a run tied to the bathroom for all we know, and it very well could be a bad receptacle. Or it could be the vac is maxing out the breaker. Or it could be a AFCI tripping.. The transformer could of been a coincidence. But Im right there with you, it very well could be that recp is bad or a bad joint at the plug.
 
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Old 04-08-10, 05:36 PM
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I think this is a sign of a loose connection and the arcing is tripping out the AFCI. I would start by replacing that receptacle using the side screw terminals.

I was just in a meeting with a rep from UL and he said the signature of a vacuum running should not trip out a AFCI on a properly wired circuit. The AFCI breaker is designed to ignore that arc.
 
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Old 04-08-10, 05:52 PM
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Vacuum cleaners frequently trip what is called an AFCI breaker as shown above.

In the past these were installed in bedrooms.

Lately they may be installed in every room of the house except bathrooms, kitchen, basement, garage, and outside outlets.

So plug the vacuum into a bathroom or kitchen outlet if possible. And if you only have AFCI's in the bedroom, then plug into an outlet in another room than the bedroom(s).

(The outlets with the little test buttons on them should not trip with the vacuum and should not be on AFCI breakers.)

Also usually all the outlets in one room will be on the same circuit, but they could be on another circuit. Try turning off that breaker and see if the two outlets in question are in fact on separate circuits.

If you can determine that you do in fact have an AFCI which the vacuum is tripping, you can report this problem to the AFCI manufacturers here...
AFCISafety.org :: AFCI Unwanted Tripping Report
 
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Old 04-08-10, 07:05 PM
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To help you solve this problem I would first check that receptacle. Shut off the power to the receptacle first and then pull it out of the box. Check and see if you have some wires with wire nuts in the box and make sure they are twisted tight. If you don't have any then check your receptacle. If the wire are stab in the receptacle pull them out and fasten around the screws on the receptacle. Now if they are already fasten like this and the screws are tight then replace the receptacle with a new one. Please don't buy a 39 cent receptacle and buy a better one which will cost you around 1 dollar or a little more. Please let us know what you come up with after checking these items. We may throw a few more ideas at you if this doesn't work. I what you to know that most of my house has AFCI breakers in it and have no trouble with them tripping while running our vac.

Thanks!
Jim

 
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