Bizarre circuit breaker issue!

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  #1  
Old 08-01-13, 04:21 AM
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Bizarre circuit breaker issue!

Good day,

I just recently moved into a house that is about 26-27 years old and everything seemed to work fine except that I noticed everytime I turn on the microwave, it trips one of the breakers that has garage door and outside outlets on it. The microwave itself doesn't shut off and keeps working but everytime it's turned on, it trips that one particular breaker. Also, the other day I had a plumber over using one of his machines in the washroom that tripped the same breaker! As with the microwave, plumbing machine kept working but the breaker tripped. I can keep resetting the breaker but it gets quite annoying and more importantly, it has me worried that one day I come home from work and the bloody place is burned down!

Does anyone know what is going on with my breaker or did anyone have similar issues? If yes, what can I do to fix it?

Thanks in advance,
Roman
 
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  #2  
Old 08-01-13, 04:47 AM
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Welcome to the forums!

Are we talking about a circuit breaker that is in your electrical panel that you have to turn off, then on to reset? Or is this a GFCI receptacle with the "Test" and "Reset" buttons on it?
 
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Old 08-01-13, 04:49 AM
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What's the make of the panel?
 
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Old 08-01-13, 04:57 AM
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Hi Tolyn- it's a gfci in the electrical panel.

Hi Joecaption1 - am not sure of the make, didn't pay much attention to the make. Can take a look once I get home.

Thanks for prompt responses folks!
 
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Old 08-01-13, 04:58 AM
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Is this either a handle tied breaker or 240 volt breaker. What color wire on the breaker that does trip and what color wire on the breaker that doesn't trip?
 
  #6  
Old 08-01-13, 05:06 AM
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From what I see on the panel, they are all white cables. Sorry I'm a first time home owner and very new to all of this.
 
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Old 08-01-13, 05:11 AM
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I think we are going to need a picture of the inside of your panel showing how the breaker is wired. I think you might have an improperly wired GFCI breaker. Not really a "burn the house down" issue, but still an issue.

How to include pictures:
http://www.doityourself.com/forum/el...-pictures.html
 
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Old 08-01-13, 05:22 AM
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Thanks, Tolyn. I will snap a pic once I'm home. Would it be an expensive/big job to rewire GFCI if it's the root cause?
 
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Old 08-01-13, 05:25 AM
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No. The big expense would be the cost of a new breaker which would be $80-$100 depending on panel manufacturer.
 
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Old 08-01-13, 05:29 AM
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Great. I called an electrician to come in and take a look at it all and let me know what it's going to take to fix the issue. Once I know diagnosis and proper remedy, I will post here for other folks that may run into the same issue.

Much gratitude to everyone taking the time to post a reply to me!

Regards,
Roman
 
  #11  
Old 08-01-13, 05:37 AM
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The microwave should not be on the same breaker as:
I noticed everytime I turn on the microwave, it trips one of the breakers that has garage door and outside outlets on it
so a new circuit needs to be run for it. The GFCI breaker if expensive can be replaced with a non GFCI Breaker and GFCI receptacles probably at a lower cost.

From what I see on the panel, they are all white cables
To see the wires in the breaker you must remove the panel cover. CAUTION turn off main breaker first. CAUTION some areas are hot even with the main breaker off.
 
  #12  
Old 08-01-13, 07:16 AM
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The microwave itself doesn't shut off and keeps working but everytime it's turned on, it trips that one particular breaker.
ray, the way I read it, the microwave trips a circuit breaker, but not the breaker the microwave is powered from because the microwave keeps running.

As with the microwave, plumbing machine kept working but the breaker tripped.
And a similar occurance with the plumbing machine. That same breaker tripped when the plumbing machine was on and running, but not the breaker the plumbing machine was running on, it kept running.

I agree with TI, I'd also like to see a picture of the panel interior and how the GFCI breaker is wired.
 
  #13  
Old 08-01-13, 07:24 AM
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Edit: My thought was a handel tied breaker on maybe a multiwire and .... but as I see now it was the heavy load of the adjacent circuit breaker generating a magnetic field that tripped the GFCI. Well duh. Never thought of that.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 08-01-13 at 12:00 PM.
  #14  
Old 08-01-13, 10:12 AM
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I just spoke with electrician and this is what he explained:

- Microwave is on it's own circuit like it's supposed to, garage and outdoor outlets are on separate.
- He took out trouble gfci and replaced it with a regular breaker and everything works fine now.
- He will place a gfci unit upstairs (ground level) front of the house.

He couldn't figure out why gfci was giving me such a hard time as wiring is in proper place, this solution that he is putting in, will solve my issue and alleviate my fear of finding the house burned to the ground

Once again, thanks for all responses. You guys were great in providing different opinions to a newb, it helps me that much to get used to electric terms and different possibilities of what could potentially happen.
 
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Old 08-01-13, 05:01 PM
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I'm glad your problem has been resolved. I'll offer my take on what I think was going on to try to take some of the mystery out of what was happening. A GFI breaker/receptacle works by sensing the current going out on the hot conductor and the current returning on the neutral conductor. When there is a difference, exceeding a certain value, the breaker trips. It is designed to make sure current going out is returning and not going somewhere it isn't supposed to. That being said, what I think was going on is you had a multi-wire branch circuit(probably a 12/3 romex) for both circuits you described and both circuits shared the common neutral in that cable. When you used the one circuit, the GFI was sensing return current on the neutral from the other circuit, tripping the GFI breaker only.
 
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