Lighting breaker trips ,then works fine

Reply

  #1  
Old 04-14-10, 07:10 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 22
Angry Lighting breaker trips ,then works fine

My lighting circut breaker keeps tripping. I replaced the breaker to rule that out. It runs lights only, no plugs. It will trip with all lights off. It will usually immediately trip when reset but after a minute will work fine for hours with all the lights on. There doesnt appear to be any pattern. Again, it will trip even if all the lights are off. Any suggestions on how to find the cause?
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 04-14-10, 08:11 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Near Lansing, Michigan
Posts: 10,825
Likes Received: 14
Have there been any recent changes to the circuit like new fixtures, dimmers or switches? Is it a standard breaker with a switch lever or an AFCI/GFCI breaker with a lever and "reset" button? What is the breaker brand?
 
  #3  
Old 04-14-10, 08:23 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 22
no, no changes at all. The breaker is a standard breaker. The brand I used was Murray and thats what I took out. I did the entire wiring job 10 years ago as part of an addittion. Never had any issues. Just to point out, it is a seasonal home. I had the same thing happen a few months ago on a visit. Lights worked for a minute, then tripped and later worked the whole day after a few trips. When I came back yesterday. The breaker was tripped.(nothing was left on) Instantly tripped several times. After a few minutes they worked fine with all the lights on for several hours. Im baffled.
 
  #4  
Old 04-14-10, 08:29 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Near Lansing, Michigan
Posts: 10,825
Likes Received: 14
Seasonal home might be a clue. Any chance there's been some condensation build up inside light fixtures from the heating being turned off? What about rodents in the attic/basement/crawl where wiring runs?
 
  #5  
Old 04-14-10, 08:39 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 22
No condensation that I see but I havent removed any fixtures at this point. Theres always a chance of rodents I guess but I havent noticed any in years. I keep it well ventilated so I dont believe moisture is an issue. Most of the lighting involved has insulation around it and a floor above it.
 
  #6  
Old 04-14-10, 01:23 PM
Member
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 2
I had a service call similar to this problem

I end up opening all the fixture on that circuit,there was a wire shoring out in the fixture.

it took me some time to figure out.
 

Last edited by ibpooks; 04-14-10 at 01:25 PM. Reason: advertising links not allowed
  #7  
Old 04-14-10, 02:01 PM
RHefferan's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 125
I agree with Ibpooks, from the sound of things I think rodents chewing on your wire is a very likely cause. If you have a crawl space available to inspect the wiring, that's what I would check first.
 
  #8  
Old 04-15-10, 07:22 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 22
thanks for the assistance. anyone have a good structured plan of attack? I can inspect only about 1/2 of the feed wire. The rest is buried in the ceiling. Finding no issues there, my plan is to inspect all the fixture connections and switch connections. Since it trips when the switches are off, I assume the fixtures are ok???? Then what ?
 
  #9  
Old 04-15-10, 07:33 AM
RHefferan's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 125
Does the feed go directly to the switch and then to the lights, or are there other outlets on the circuit?
 
  #10  
Old 04-15-10, 07:36 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 22
it feeds lights for a kitchen, bath and 1 bedroom. There are no outlets on that line, lighting only.
 
  #11  
Old 04-15-10, 02:20 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 22
ok, went back today. After two days, breaker did not trip and all lights worked fine. Checked all fixtures and switch connections, all seemed fine.. no signs of any shorts or moisture. Checked about 1/2 of the feed line.. all was ok. Unable to check the rest since its buried in the ceiling/floor. No signs of any critters anywhere. I'm stuck at this point, especially since its so infrequent. Any ideas anyone? Can dimmers be a possibility? They are the toggle type that look just like a conventional switch. I have two of them installed but again, they work just fine. I'm baffled. If it kept tripping like it did twice before it would make the job easier!
 
  #12  
Old 04-15-10, 02:45 PM
RHefferan's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: Minnesota
Posts: 125
Originally Posted by povertyacresmyk View Post
ok, went back today. After two days, breaker did not trip and all lights worked fine. Checked all fixtures and switch connections, all seemed fine.. no signs of any shorts or moisture. Checked about 1/2 of the feed line.. all was ok. Unable to check the rest since its buried in the ceiling/floor. No signs of any critters anywhere. I'm stuck at this point, especially since its so infrequent. Any ideas anyone? Can dimmers be a possibility? They are the toggle type that look just like a conventional switch. I have two of them installed but again, they work just fine. I'm baffled. If it kept tripping like it did twice before it would make the job easier!
The nature of troubleshooting can be just that, troublesome. I feel your pain.

If you can find some way to recreate the issue, you can sequentially remove items from the circuit and test that way. As you said that the fault occurs even when the switch is off, my guess is that it would have nothing to do with anything that the switch controls. Electrically, all that stuff shouldn't have any effect on the circuit with the switch off.

It could possibly be a dimmer switch with a short somewhere on the rheostat, where the short only happens if the rheostat is in a very specific position. You could try turning the circuit on and sliding the dimmer on to off slowly and see if you can pop the circuit that way. If so, new dimmer is needed.
 
  #13  
Old 04-15-10, 03:38 PM
Member
Join Date: Feb 2009
Location: Iowa
Posts: 339
Originally Posted by povertyacresmyk View Post
thanks for the assistance. anyone have a good structured plan of attack? I can inspect only about 1/2 of the feed wire. The rest is buried in the ceiling. Finding no issues there, my plan is to inspect all the fixture connections and switch connections. Since it trips when the switches are off, I assume the fixtures are ok???? Then what ?
( Since it trips when the switches are off, I assume the fixtures are ok???? ) No it may not be the case. Does the power on all the lights on this circuit feed to the switches first then to the lights. Some circuits are fed to the light then 2 wires are fed to the switch ( 1 hot and a feed wire which will be hot when you turn on the switch that will go to your light ). The neutral is already in your box with the light. If this is the case you would only have 2 wires plus your ground in your switch box. If you find a switch like that you could have a short in your junction box in your light fixture. I'm still thinking about it and will try to get you more ideas.

Jim
 
  #14  
Old 04-15-10, 04:58 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 22
When I did the install around 2000, all the feed goes to the light junction box and the power then goes from there to the switch and back to the light. All the fixtures are fine.. I turned them all on today and left them on.... The only patter Ive been able to see is it trips, and retrips several times , and within minutes will reset and work fine. Its been back on without triping since last tues. It was working fine two weeks ago after being vacant for 2 months. When I arrived this tuesday , it was tripped and again its been on since after several immediate trips and a change of the breaker(which didint help).
 
  #15  
Old 04-16-10, 01:40 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Apr 2010
Location: United States
Posts: 22
breakers still on and lights work ok.... a Mystery indeed
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes