Breaker being tripped around once per day

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  #1  
Old 08-18-12, 09:41 AM
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Breaker being tripped around once per day

Hello there I should probably clarify a few things first - I live in Ireland, and am not knowledgeable in electricals at all. I live on the top floor of a four-storey apartment complex, and recently (in the last week-and-a-half), we've been finding that the apartment's "master" breaker for sockets (lights and the oven etc seem to be on a different set of breakers and are always unaffected) is being tripped usually once per day, but sometimes two to three times per day.

When I push the tripped master breaker (please correct my terminology, it's the leftmost breaker that cuts power to all those to the right of it), the third of the four breakers to the right is immediately tripped. We then push that breaker back up and power continues uninterrupted until the next time it happens.

What I'd like to know is what that indicates; is there something on that third circuit that is faulty?

Ordinarily I'd assume that to be the case. However, this only started happening about ten days ago, which, either by coincidence or not, was the day the apartment complex had electricians visit to find out why it was that when they tried to cut off the power to our apartment (17) some time ago (a billing issue that we've since fixed) it cut off the power in 16 instead. They visited and left, so I assume they fixed what they wanted to fix, but since that was roughly the time at which we started getting this issue, I wanted to mention it.

My housemates suspect that we might still have some sort of electrical connection to 16 next door, and that that's the cause of our issues, but it seems highly unlikely to me. Could anyone please shed any light on what the likely cause is - will it be something on the third sockets circuit or might the electricians' visit have caused some sort of other issue?

Thanks in advance - please let me know if any other information is needed to be useful.
Adam
 
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  #2  
Old 08-18-12, 10:06 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

First of all, most of us live and work in North America, and are not familiar with the 220V 50Hz power supply that you have. That said, many aspects of electrical supply systems are either identical or similar across differences in voltage and frequency, so we may be able to provide some help.

This, however, is unfamiliar to me:
recently (in the last week-and-a-half), we've been finding that the apartment's "master" breaker for sockets... is being tripped usually once per day, but sometimes two to three times per day... When I push the tripped master breaker (...it's the leftmost breaker that cuts power to all those to the right of it), the third of the four breakers to the right is immediately tripped. We then push that breaker back up and power continues uninterrupted until the next time it happens.
Perhaps you could post some pictures to help us see what you're looking at. See How To Include Pictures. That left-hand master breaker sounds particularly interesting. When you say you "push" it, do you mean that you reset it?

One other point. As you say you're a tenant, what have the landlord, the building engineer or the maintenance staff said about this? It will be challenging for us to offer you much in the way of advice on procedures that a tenant might be allowed, or permitted, to do.
 
  #3  
Old 08-18-12, 10:25 AM
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I suspect that might have been my poor explanation rather than anything else.

The breaker box I'm using is here (the annotations, A and B, are my own and not on the box itself).



The bottom row of breakers is for lights, oven, fans, and other such things. These are never affected by the issues we're having.

The top row is for sockets around the apartment. We notice the power being cut and we go to the box to find the leftmost breaker (A) has tripped to the OFF position. This cuts off all sockets. Switching A back to the ON position, as it is in the picture, immediately trips breaker B to the OFF position but restores power to all sockets not on B's circuit (for instance, the microwave will come back on, but the computer won't). Flipping B back to ON allows us to carry on as before, though it seems a certainty that it'll happen again (with my luck, while I'm writing this).

By pushing it I mean I flip the breaker back to ON. My apologies for the confusion.

We haven't yet spoken to the landlord - obviously we will if needed, but there's a few reasons why we'd rather not have the landlord or his electricians visit the apartment unless necessary (need to arrange for cats to be hidden/looked after by someone else, for one), so if we could get an idea of what's causing the problem ourselves we'd much prefer that.

Thanks again!
 
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Old 08-18-12, 11:00 AM
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By sockets I assume you mean where things plug in. Does turning off A turn off all the other breakers in that row thus your calling it a "master breaker"? Most logically there are two possible causes B has so much on it it is tripping Master A or Master A is worn out-weak. That happens when breakers get old sometimes. I think though the circuit is just overloaded because you seem to have too many things on the circuit. For example as comparison in the kitchen we have two 20 amp circuits for nothing but the counter top receptacles (sockets) plus separate circuits for lights and dishwasher. Of course this is an apartment but you still seem to have lots of loads. Anyway you can put the microwave on a different breaker?
 
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Old 08-18-12, 12:07 PM
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Anyway you can put the microwave on a different breaker?
The microwave is not fed by the circuit protected by CB B:
Originally Posted by Adam Lucas
Switching A back to the ON position, as it is in the picture, immediately trips breaker B to the OFF position but restores power to all sockets not on B's circuit (for instance, the microwave will come back on...)
Adam, the best next step I can think of would require you to remove the panel cover, check some connections for tightness, and measure the load on each circuit while everything is restored and running. These may not be tasks you're comfortable doing, and they are almost certainly not allowable within your rights as a tenant.

One thing you might try in the meantime is a parallel to Ray's suggestion: The next time this happens, reset A but leave B off. Then note everything that doesn't have power, and move what you can to a different circuit. IOW, unload B to the extent practicable; then turn B back on and see what holds and what doesn't.
 
  #6  
Old 08-18-12, 12:27 PM
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The circuit being overloaded seems like it might be possible - there are three of us in the apartment, each with a computer, a monitor, and everything associated with same (printer, router, speakers) etc, all of which coming off the sockets (for which we each use a 4-way extension block with surge protection). I'll try to see if I can get a count of just how much is on that one circuit and perhaps we can take some things off while they're not needed. Thanks for your help, guys - I'll be back
 
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