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Breaker tripping randomly in brand new home - Electricians haven't fixed it yet

Breaker tripping randomly in brand new home - Electricians haven't fixed it yet

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  #1  
Old 04-04-13, 10:27 AM
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Breaker tripping randomly in brand new home - Electricians haven't fixed it yet

Hello,

We built a new home in 2012, closed June 1st. The media room and bathroom are sharing the same breaker which is on a gfi. It's a 15 amp breaker.

Since day one the only thing that is plugged into a outlet is my desktop computer and two monitors. I have used this same setup in my apartment for two years with out a single issue. The breaker trips completely random times. I can sometimes go a week or two with out a issue and then some times it's a matter of a day or two.

They have come out and replaced the breaker and reconnected the outlets in the media room. Still happens. They want me to be able to replicate the issue when they are there but I don't have that kind of luck. It's completely random. If it does trip I can get it to trip over and over after the first trip since the breaker is then hot.

So I guess I have some questions...

1) If there was a nail through a wire or a wire that is exposed that is causing a arch then wouldn't the breaker trip all the time or at least daily?

2) Would getting a surge protector prove that it's the wiring and/or the computer that is at fault or does a surge protector protect incoming and outgoing current?

I have no idea what to do at this point beside have them keep coming out. I even replaced my power supply on my desktop to see if maybe my power supply is the issue. Still tripping.

Has anyone had a breaker trip at random times like this and if so what was the source of the problem?

Off topic but my downstairs living room light/fan turns off randomly now too but the breaker doesn't trip. Lights just go off and if I go over and turn the light switch off and back on the lights come back on. Why would lights go off but not trip a breaker?
 
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  #2  
Old 04-04-13, 11:06 AM
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For a while I would connect your computer to a different circuit so you had nothing plugged into the problem circuit and see if the problem continues. I assume that you have a GFCI breaker that is protecting the entire circuit and not a GFCI outlet.
 
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Old 04-04-13, 11:25 AM
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We built a new home in 2012, closed June 1st. The media room and bathroom are sharing the same breaker which is on a gfi. It's a 15 amp breaker.
A flagrant violation of national code on two points if you mean the bathroom receptacle(s). The bathroom receptacle(s) must be on a dedicated 20 amp circuit.

Even if you are referring to just lights in the bathroom best practice would be a dedicated 20 amp receptacle circuit for your media room. That may or may not need to be AFCI protected but should not need GFCI protection. It is unlikely a surge protector would help with the situation.

Last resort repair if you can't isolate a problem is run a new circuit and abandon the existing one. In this case. In any case from what you describe you need at least one new circuit for the bathroom if the receptacles aren't on a dedicated circuit to meet national code and best practice a dedicated circuit for the media room.
 
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Old 04-04-13, 11:27 AM
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I look for patterns - start noting everything which is plugged in on the circuit each time it pops.

As Ray mentioned, it sounds like you have a code violation they need to address as well.
 
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Old 04-04-13, 01:13 PM
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I will ask them about the code violation when we schedule them out here again. Busy work schedule so might be a few weeks. When the last guy was here from the electrical company he said I should put in a 20 amp but they are not allowed to do that because it would void my warranty. So it sounds like code for my house was nothing over 15 amp. Something to do with energy efficient?

Honestly this isn't my area of expertise so not sure.

As for the GFI break/outlet question I do not know. I can ask. What is the difference between GFI and GFCI? All the outlets in the bathroom have GFCI protected stickers on them.
 
  #6  
Old 04-04-13, 01:20 PM
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GFI is short for GFCI. To increase the breaker assuming #14 was used would require new cable which may be what he meant. I suspect you would be better served by hiring a master electrician of your own.
 
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Old 04-04-13, 02:23 PM
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When the last guy was here from the electrical company he said I should put in a 20 amp but they are not allowed to do that because it would void my warranty. So it sounds like code for my house was nothing over 15 amp.
Not likely. Just to be clear, this is what the relevant section of the model national code, the NEC, says in the current cycle:
210.11 Branch Circuits Required. Branch circuits... shall be provided for... dwelling unit loads as specified in 210.11(C).

(C) Dwelling Units.

(3) Bathroom Branch Circuits. In addition to the number of branch circuits required by other parts of this section, at least one 20-ampere branch circuit shall be provided to supply bathroom receptacle outlet(s). Such circuits shall have no other outlets.

Exception: Where the 20-ampere circuit supplies a single bathroom, outlets for other equipment within the same bathroom shall be permitted to be supplied in accordance with 210.23(A)(1) and (A)(2).
At least one 20 ampere branch circuit is required for bathroom receptacle(s). That circuit (Those circuits) shall have no other outlets.

That said, all codes is local. But unless your local jurisdiction did not adopt Section 210.11 of the NEC, or adopted a local regulation that supersedes it, that's what's required.

If any circuit supplying bathroom receptacle(s) is a 15 ampere circuit, that's a violation of Section 210.11. If any circuit supplying bathroom receptacle(s) is also supplying any receptacle outside the bathroom, that is also a violation of Section 210.11.

The requirement for GFCI protection is in an earlier section:
210.8 Ground-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection for Personnel. Ground-fault circuit-interruption for personnel shall be provided as required in 210.8(A) through (C). The ground-fault circuit-interrupter shall be installed in a readily accessible location.

(A) Dwelling Units. All 125-volt, single-phase, 15- and 20-ampere receptacles installed in the locations specified in 210.8(A)(1) through (8) shall have ground-fault circuit interrupter protection for personnel.

(1) Bathrooms
This is for your information. I certainly wouldn't try to use it to beat someone over the head with.

Keep in mind, as Ray suggested:
Originally Posted by ray2047
I suspect you would be better served by hiring a master electrician of your own.
 

Last edited by Nashkat1; 04-04-13 at 02:43 PM.
  #8  
Old 04-04-13, 02:32 PM
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You don't say whether are not you are in the county but if you are the NEC code is 2011 for Texas. If you are in a municipality you can expect the same code perhaps with minor amendments. So Nash is quoting to you the code that was in force in 2011 before the house was finished. Even if they managed to squeak by with 2008 codes those codes were in effect then.
 
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Old 04-04-13, 02:40 PM
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The code that applies to the construction of your house is the code that was in place when the house was built, or at least when the plans were approved.

That said, I remember having to meet these exact same requirements when I rewired our former house in 1983. They were almost certainly in place when your house was built, as Ray said.
 
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Old 04-04-13, 06:56 PM
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We built a new home in 2012, closed June 1st. The media room and bathroom are sharing the same breaker which is on a gfi. It's a 15 amp breaker.
I'll not repeat the excellent code information you've already been given, but I do want to point out, in my opinion, your media room is a living space which would be required by the 2008 and 2011 versions of the NEC to be AFCI protected.
 
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Old 04-04-13, 07:09 PM
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I do appreciate the information. The house was started in 2012 and moved in June 2012. I'm in Texas.

That said, I don't think the fact that it being either a 15 amp or 20 amp would be the issue here would it? This computer (again only thing on this whole circuit breaker with two monitors) is not pulling anything even close to max load.
 
  #12  
Old 04-04-13, 07:15 PM
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again only thing on this whole circuit breaker with two monitors) is not pulling anything even close to max load.
I'm confused. Earlier you wrote:
The media room and bathroom are sharing the same breaker which is on a gfi. It's a 15 amp breaker.
Which is it? Did you know a hair dryer consumes close to 10 amps. Throw in a couple of other small loads and you are close to the tripping point. Are the bathroom rceptacles on the same circuit breaker as the media room?
 
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Old 04-04-13, 07:20 PM
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If it does trip I can get it to trip over and over after the first trip since the breaker is then hot.
A hot breaker usually indicates either a loose connection or an overload.
 
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Old 04-04-13, 10:21 PM
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The media room and bathroom are sharing the same breaker which is on a gfi. It's a 15 amp breaker.
This computer (again only thing on this whole circuit breaker with two monitors) is not pulling anything even close to max load.
OK, which is it - one circuit for the bathroom and the media room or two separate circuits?

Uh oh! ECHO, Echo, echo...
 
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Old 04-06-13, 01:14 PM
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Sorry for confusion. I mean the only thing using power on this breaker is my computer and two monitors. We do not use the upstairs bathroom.

I was trying to explain that there isn't hair dryers or curling irons, etc in use. Just a computer.
 
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Old 04-06-13, 03:27 PM
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I mean the only thing using power on this breaker is my computer and two monitors. We do not use the upstairs bathroom.
The receptacle(s) in a bathroom and the receptacle(s) in another room cannot share a circuit. That problem needs to be addressed first.

In doing that you may discover and correct the problem with the random tripping.
 
  #17  
Old 04-07-13, 03:06 PM
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When you say cannot do you mean as in it's a violation of code?
 
  #18  
Old 04-07-13, 04:42 PM
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When you say cannot do you mean as in it's a violation of code?
  • It is a violation of code for the bathroom receptacle branch circuit to share the circuit with any device or load not in a bathroom.
  • It is a code violation to use a 15 amp breaker for a bathroom receptacle.
Additional considerations and restrictions:
  • A bathroom may share it's receptacle branch circuit with another bathroom but only if there are no other loads such as bathroom lights on the bathroom receptacle branch circuit.
Note also that any talk about breaker size affecting energy efficiency is BS. You state a GFCI breaker was used. There is no code requirement for a GFCI breaker in a bedroom but there is a code requirement for an AFCI breaker.

You are in Texas so 2011 NEC applies except as amended by local municipalities. As far as I know if you are in the county it will be state code that applies so basically the 2011 NEC. The above statements are consistent with 2008 and 2011 NEC.

Source: 2008 NEC

210.11 Branch Circuits Required

(3) Bathroom Branch Circuits. In addition to the number
of branch circuits required by other parts of this section, at
least one 20-ampere branch circuit shall be provided to
supply bathroom receptacle. Exception: Where the 20-ampere circuit supplies a single
bathroom, outlets for other equipment within the same
bathroom shall be permitted to be supplied in accordance
with 210.23(A)(1) and (A)(2).


210.12 Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection

(B) Dwelling Units. All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and
20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in
dwelling unit family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms,
parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation
rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas shall be
protected by a listed arc-fault circuit interrupter,
combination-type, installed to provide protection of the
branch circuit.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 04-07-13 at 05:41 PM.
  #19  
Old 04-07-13, 09:00 PM
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Just to be clear, this is from the 2011 NEC:
210.11 Branch Circuits Required.

(C) Dwelling Units.

(3) Bathroom Branch Circuits.
In addition to the number of branch circuits required by other parts of this section, at least one 20-ampere branch circuit shall be provided to supply bathroom receptacle outlet(s). Such circuits shall have no other outlets.

Exception: Where the 20-ampere circuit supplies a single bathroom, outlets for other equipment within the same bathroom shall be permitted to be supplied in accordance with 210.23(A)(1) and (A)(2).

210.12 Arc-Fault Circuit-Interrupter Protection.

(A) Dwelling Units.
All 120-volt, single phase, 15- and 20-ampere branch circuits supplying outlets installed in dwelling unit family rooms, dining rooms, living rooms, parlors, libraries, dens, bedrooms, sunrooms, recreation rooms, closets, hallways, or similar rooms or areas shall be protected by a listed arc-fault circuit interrupter, combination-type, installed to provide protection of the branch circuit.

[SUP]Source: 2011 NEC[/SUP]
There's no significant difference between the two code cycles.
 
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