Microwave tripping breakers

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  #1  
Old 01-20-13, 05:40 PM
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Microwave tripping breakers

Hello,

I have a problem I'm hoping you all can help me identify. First of all, I have zero knowledge of electrical wiring, fuses, breakers, etc. Here's what's been happening...

I just moved into a new apartment about 3 weeks ago. I got a new microwave as well. I used it just fine for about 2 weeks, then, one day, after starting the microwave, it went off. Foolishly, I took the microwave back, as it was new, and replaced it with another unit. When I got the new unit and plugged it in, it did not work, which led me to the fuse box/circuit breaker. I noticed one of the spots labeled kitchen was no longer in the "on" position. So, I plugged into another kitchen outlet and it worked fine for about 4 days. Today, it happened again with the new microwave. I moved it to another outlet in the bathroom that has nothing else plugged in, and the same thing happened again.

Now that this has happened with 2 different microwaves, in 3 different outlets in 2 different rooms, I ask, what is the problem here? I find it hard to believe it's the microwave since it's happened with two brand new units (different brands.) I've contacted my landlord, but I'm not sure what they can/will do.

Thanks in advance
 
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  #2  
Old 01-20-13, 05:49 PM
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Welcome to the forum!

First question is does the circuit breaker have a "test" button on it?

A standard breaker will trip when there too much current going through a circuit. That is what they are designed to do to prevent fires. If the breaker has a "test" button on it, it would likely be a GFCI breaker which also has circuitry to protect from ground faults.

Unless there is an additional load on the circuit, this should not be happening unless this is a huge microwave. Try the microwave on another circuit like a bedroom or living room, just for test purposes. If it is fine, you likely have a bad GFCI breaker(s).

Note: You should not do any electrical work in a place you are renting.
 
  #3  
Old 01-20-13, 05:52 PM
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What type of microwave? Is it 1000 watts or something a bit higher. What breakers are tripping? What amperage 15 amps or 20 amps at the fuse box. The Microwave should be on its own circuit. You have to figure out if the microwave is on the same circuit as possibly a refrigerator, freezer, washer, dryer, or other items. A electric stove on the same circuit may exceed the ratings. Unless you can unplug everything from the home and test the microwave for 10 minutes. If it does not trip (please boil water) then try the test again. But this time start turning on each appliance one by one until it trips and maybe you will resolve your issue. A Microwave is about 8-9 amps. A refrigerator with a freezer is 6.5 amps at start up and if the unit is older then you may be drawing more. Combine the appliances and you may be over and this is why it is tripping. I suggest you provide us as much information as possible.
 
  #4  
Old 01-20-13, 05:55 PM
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Microwave tripping breakers

Hello,

I have a problem I'm hoping you all can help me identify. First of all, I have zero knowledge of electrical wiring, fuses, breakers, etc. Here's what's been happening...

I just moved into a new apartment about 3 weeks ago. I got a new microwave as well. I used it just fine for about 2 weeks, then, one day, after starting the microwave, it went off. Foolishly, I took the microwave back, as it was new, and replaced it with another unit. When I got the new unit and plugged it in, it did not work, which led me to the fuse box/circuit breaker. I noticed one of the spots labeled kitchen was no longer in the "on" position. So, I plugged into another kitchen outlet and it worked fine for about 4 days. Today, it happened again with the new microwave. I moved it to another outlet in the bathroom that has nothing else plugged in, and the same thing happened again.

Now that this has happened with 2 different microwaves, in 3 different outlets in 2 different rooms, I ask, what is the problem here? I find it hard to believe it's the microwave since it's happened with two brand new units (different brands.) I've contacted my landlord, but I'm not sure what they can/will do.

Thanks in advance
 
  #5  
Old 01-20-13, 06:02 PM
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Tolyn,

When I open the fuse box, there are two breakers that have a test button, but neither of them are the three that have "blown" or "tripped" (I'm not sure the correct terminology.) It's not a huge microwave, only a 1000W, and had been working fine for a couple weeks. I've tried it now on two kitchen circuits and a bathroom circuit, all of which have blown.
 
  #6  
Old 01-20-13, 06:06 PM
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Catanzaro,

It is 1000 Watts, RCA microwave. Pretty standard. All of the breakers that have blown have a 20 on the part that slides left to right, so I'm guessing 20 amps. I'm not sure how to figure out if the microwave is on the same circuit as anything else, as it's an apartment I'm renting and I have no electrical knowledge.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 07:02 PM
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But both microwaves were the same make and model, correct? So where ever your getting them see if they will let you have a different brand that is about the same price. Everything in your post seems to point to the Microwave not the apartment wiring. If you want to try something first swap out microwaves with a friend. If it doesn't work for the friend and his works for you you can be reasonably certain it is the microwave oven failing not the apartment electric.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 07:18 PM
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Ray,

No -- two completely different brands and models.
 
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Old 01-20-13, 08:03 PM
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I have merged these two threads so we can keep info on the same page. This appears to be an electrical issue so we'll work on it here.

When I open the fuse box, there are two breakers that have a test button, but neither of them are the three that have "blown" or "tripped"
That is odd because, those circuits are the ones that would have GFCI protection. Please double check this and get back to us. If possible, post a picture of your panel.

Did you try the microwave on another circuit with out GFCI protection?
 
  #10  
Old 01-20-13, 08:31 PM
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That is odd because, those circuits are the ones that would have GFCI protection. Please double check this and get back to us. If possible, post a picture of your panel.
I thought AFCI breakers also had a test button.
 
  #11  
Old 01-20-13, 08:56 PM
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Sorry -- to be honest I'm not sure what GFCI protection is, or how I'd tell if I've tried it on one of them without GFCI protection.

I'll see about posting a picture in the morning. Thanks for all the help so far.

And sorry for the double post....I posted it in one place then realized it may also fit in another.
 
  #12  
Old 01-21-13, 06:38 PM
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You are correct Nash, AFCI's also have test buttons. It's just that I have come across Microwaves that trip some GFCIs.
 
  #13  
Old 01-21-13, 07:35 PM
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Here are the pictures. Both 15 and 17 tripped in the kitchen with different microwaves, two different brands and different wattage outputs. Then number 6 in the bathroom tripped when I was testing. Could it be that BOTH microwaves had a problem? The apartment company sent someone in to "fix" today, but upon using my microwave, 15 tripped immediately. I was able to reset it and use the microwave, but seems to me this can't happen every time I need to heat something up.

Not sure how well you can see, but 12 and 13 are the ones with the white "test" buttons you asked about.

Any ideas?
 
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  #14  
Old 01-21-13, 08:16 PM
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They look like arc fault breakers but circuit # 13 says bath and bedroom. The bedroom is supposed to be on that breaker all by itself......unless maybe it's the bathroom light.

Circuit 12 looks like living room and something else.
 
  #15  
Old 01-21-13, 10:08 PM
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Circuit 12 looks like living room and something else.
Living room and smoke (detectors), maybe?
 
  #16  
Old 01-22-13, 06:46 PM
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This is correct. It says Living / Smokes
 
  #17  
Old 01-22-13, 07:29 PM
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The breakers with the test buttons are Arc Fault Breakers. Not the issue.

I am now at a loss. There is no reason a microwave should trip the breaker, unless there is other loads on these circuits, and I suspect the bathroom would have no load on it. Only thing I can suggest is to put a clamp on meter to measure how much current the microwave is drawing and see if it is out of line of what the microwave is rated in watts. This would need to done hot and done either at the panel, or with the receptacle pulled out.
 
  #18  
Old 01-22-13, 09:18 PM
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This is puzzling, since the GFCI protection isn't in the panel. There's no reason any ordinary countertop microwave should trip the thermal overload protection on a 20A circuit.

I wonder if there might be some under-torqued or over-torqued terminations in the panel...??
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 01-23-13 at 11:06 AM. Reason: Correction
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