Breaker keeps blowing

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Old 06-05-11, 06:26 PM
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Breaker keeps blowing

I need lots of help...I'm not very electrically literate, but I'd like to get my problem narrowed down.
A breaker tripped for the basement and the main level master bedroom and two bathrooms. I tried to reset it and it buzzes for a couple seconds then pops and is off again. I checked to make sure nothing else is plugged in or flipped-on downstairs and tried it again, but it continues to do the same.
I'm thinking a short circuit somewhere, but not sure where to start.
Husband wants to replace that individual breaker first as he thinks it may be 'bad'.
We're on a very tight budget and would prefer to troubleshoot it ourselves first, so any suggestions would be appreciated.
 
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Old 06-05-11, 06:39 PM
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It would help to know the age of the house and if the breaker is an AFCI or not.

I suspect a high resistance short from the buzzing. Has anyone hung a picture or something like that recently?
 
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Old 06-05-11, 06:40 PM
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Welcome to the forums! $8 isn't much to replace a breaker. It may save a bunch of unnecessary stuff if you replaced it first. They do go bad. Have you done any work in any of the bathrooms, lighting, bedroom, etc? Not just electrical, but framing or plumbing. When was the house built? Reason: bathrooms must be on their own 20 amp circuit, starting either in or just before 1993. Bedroom can't be on those circuits, and definitely not the basement. Why was the basement put on this circuit? When was the basement remodeled?
 
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Old 06-05-11, 07:05 PM
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I believe the house was built in 79. We haven't done any remodeling in the 5 years we've lived here.
I apologize, the top portion of the breaker (for the bathrooms and bedroom on the main floor) is fine...husband flipped it off and left it off.
The switch that's popped covers the basement 'great room', a bedroom w/bathroom, and the utility rooms.
I do not know if the breaker is AFCI.
Here's a photo of the breakers...the one causing the problem is second from the bottom on the left.


No one has hung any pictures recently.
What could cause a high resistance short?

We have been having issue with the ADT smoke alarm that is 'hard wired'.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 06-05-11 at 07:17 PM. Reason: Fix image link.
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Old 06-05-11, 07:12 PM
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Remove the wire from the breaker and try to reset it. Turn off main breaker, if there is one, before working in the breaker box.
 
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Old 06-05-11, 07:16 PM
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Disconnect the wire from the breaker and try to reset it. If it resets, then check it to the neutral bar with a meter. If you get 120 volts, then it is good. I will tell you from your description is does sound like a short to me.

An AFCI breaker will have a test button on it and be marked "AFCI"

The smoke is a good place to start.
 
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Old 06-05-11, 07:33 PM
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The lights blink in the bedroom when I tried to reset the breaker earlier...I'm wondering if it's the light fixture.
I think that ADT should come out and fix their smoke alarm, but if there's no power to it, I think I'm at a catch 22. If we toy with the smoke alarm, ADT may decide that we'd have to pay for any repairs. If we can't figure out what's wrong, then we're going to end up paying for an electrician (which we can't really afford). In the meantime, I'm going to have to hope my house doesn't burn down.
 
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Old 06-05-11, 07:46 PM
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Please follow Tolyn's and my suggestion to disconnect the wire from the breaker and test. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...ml#post1858442
 
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Old 06-05-11, 07:49 PM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Remove the wire from the breaker and try to reset it. Turn off main breaker, if there is one, before working in the breaker box.
It is a "split bus" panel, Ray. The double circuit breaker (handles connected with metal bar) on the left about the middle of the panel is the main for the lower bus.

Is the ADT smoke alarm connected to a security alarm panel? If yes, then it is not the cause of the problem under discussion.
 
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Old 06-05-11, 08:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Furd View Post
It is a "split bus".
Wow! I don't think I have ever seen an ITE split buss panel before.

Thanks for fixing the image ray.
 
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Old 06-05-11, 08:46 PM
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I also see that a great deal of the original branch circuit wiring is aluminum. Although the budget is tight, it may be money well spent to have a professional electrician come look over and evaluate the entire electrical system.

What could cause a high resistance short?
Bad connections with aluminum wire could do that.
 

Last edited by CasualJoe; 06-05-11 at 09:16 PM. Reason: added info
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Old 06-05-11, 09:13 PM
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Something tells me the two 20A breakers shouldn't be on the top unfused buss, either.

I'm glad I've never came across aluminum wire.
 
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Old 06-05-11, 09:20 PM
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If we can't figure out the short...any suggestion on finding someone who is a "good" electrician...I've called the big-name ones in the past for simple things that I didn't feel like doing and I've had a couple of people who weren't quite IBEW material...I may be a woman, but I'm not the typical repair-ignorant type.
My other issue with needing someone good is I've read some posts that electricians will quote high, just not to mess with anything because: A: they don't want to mess with it because it's aluminum and not up to code. Or, B: they can make more money by trying to 'bring everything to code' and not fixing what I need.
My budget is tighter that a fat woman in spandex, so the idea of having to come up with money for someone who may be clueless or less is gut-wrenching.
 
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Old 06-05-11, 09:29 PM
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any suggestion on finding someone who is a "good" electrician
Try calling an electrical supply house about mid afternoon when they aren't so busy and I am sure they could give you names of several contractors who do your type of work in your area.
 
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Old 06-06-11, 06:55 AM
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You can also call your friends and co-workers for some references.
 
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