Breakers tripping after siding replacement

Reply

  #1  
Old 09-11-15, 11:34 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Sep 2015
Posts: 1
Breakers tripping after siding replacement

We just had all new windows and vinyl siding installed. While the contractor was installing the siding, I noticed a breaker had tripped. This breaker would not reset, and would immediately trip again when we tried to flip the switch. We tried to replace the breaker, and the new one immediately tripped as well. Two days later, I noticed that when I turned on the patio light, it caused another breaker to trip. Both of these breakers are mostly lights and outlets with very little running off of them (no appliances, fans, etc.). Also, they both control the entire back side of the house, which is where the contractor was working the day that the first breaker tripped. A friend who is an electrician mentioned that he thought the contractor probably nailed through a wire, causing metal to metal contact, and causing the breaker to trip. Our contractor could not find a nail through a wire.

Any ideas what could be the cause of this?
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 09-11-15, 12:00 PM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Near Lansing, Michigan
Posts: 10,288
My best guess is also a nail through the wire. Unplug everything from the affected circuit, turn off lights on the affected circuit, turn off the breaker. Use a multimeter to measure resistance (ohms setting) between the hot slot of a now dead receptacle on this circuit and the round ground hole. The reading should be infinity (sometimes shown as zero) on your meter. If you get something close to zero, there is probably a nail through the wire. Also check the hot (narrow slot) to neutral (wide slot) resistance.

The patio light problem is probably more localized to that fixture -- maybe they unhooked it to side around it and put it back wrong, maybe they shorted the light to the metal box when monkeying with it, or pinched a cable if the moved the box. For that one, I would pull the light fixture down and check in and around that box.
 
  #3  
Old 09-11-15, 12:05 PM
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2003
Location: NC, USA
Posts: 17,092
I'll be the third to also think they put a nail through a couple wires.
 
  #4  
Old 09-11-15, 12:26 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,631
And I will say the siding company needs to pay for a licensed electrification to fix any problems they caused.
 
  #5  
Old 09-11-15, 02:55 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,350
I too think they nailed a cable. How long were the siding nails?

How did they look for a hot nail? Even the nail causing the problem is not going to be hot with the breaker tripped.
 
  #6  
Old 09-11-15, 06:36 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,212
Our contractor could not find a nail through a wire.
He couldn't find a nail through a wire because he has no idea how to go about finding it. You need a licensed electrician who can check continuity of each of the suspect nails to the black wire and/or white and ground wires of the circuit. I hope the contractor provided you with his certificate of insurance before starting your job.

pcboss


I too think they nailed a cable. How long were the siding nails?
I agree and also am wondering how long the siding nails were. I am not a siding guy and have no idea how long the nails need to be for vinyl siding, but I suspect that 1 to 1 1/4 inches would be plenty long. If I remember correctly, aren't roofing nails with the big heads normally used on vinyl siding?
 
  #7  
Old 09-11-15, 07:50 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NJ - USA
Posts: 43,430
He couldn't find a nail through a wire because he has no idea how to go about finding it. You need a licensed electrician who can check continuity of each of the suspect nails to the black wire and/or white and ground wires of the circuit
There is no way to check the nails if the siding is completed.

You can hunt for it. I have a few ideas but it isn't going to be a cakewalk.
 
  #8  
Old 09-12-15, 08:53 AM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,212
There is no way to check the nails if the siding is completed.
Looks to me like the siding must come off, one lap at a time, till the nail/nails are found.
 
  #9  
Old 09-12-15, 09:47 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,631
Plan B is trace the wiring with a toner and metal detector and remove a narrow band of Sheetrock along the path of the cable. Look for nails entering the space. Sounds radical but the cable should probably be replaced where damaged, not just the nail removed. You can't easily fish horizontal cables so may be needed any way. In the long run may be better easy than removing the siding. Key will be a good Sheetrocker to patch when done. Of course should be done on the siding companies dime (or insurance).
 
  #10  
Old 09-12-15, 09:51 AM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 11,979
Likely the siding company will not take responsibility for the issue as they will say the wiring was not installed properly. I have seen it before. Get ready for a fight.
 
  #11  
Old 09-12-15, 09:53 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NJ - USA
Posts: 43,430
I was going to post what I'd do but I was waiting to hear from the OP.

You'd have to remove all three wires from each cable at the panel.
You'd have to test and find a non shorted pair. In this case probably white and ground.
You can't tone into a shorted circuit.
You'd more than likely have to open many splices/boxes on that circuit to isolate sections of it.
It's not impossible but you do need to be creative.

There are also TDR testers that you can connect to a cable to determine length and distance to a short. They are a little tricky to use in this case but will also help.
 
  #12  
Old 09-12-15, 10:02 AM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NJ - USA
Posts: 43,430


Just a little off topic. I worked in a partial gut and rebuild. Small cape cod.... blew out roof and added dormers. Typical cape cod expansion. I was up in the second floor checking before the insulators and I saw a piece of NM-B stapled to the side of a stud with a nail between it and the stud. It didn't hurt the wire but looking at the length and figuring that those nails will be found in studs where my wiring was drilled thru. My boss, not thinking, said to check. I said DUH.... check what.... you can't see into the stud.

Of course, these new bedrooms will be arc fault protected so I got my meter and checked for any shorted cables at the panel as they aren't cut in yet. So far... no shorts.

I flipped out on the siding guys who didn't understand much of anything I was saying in English..... so I said what size nails are you using. It wasn't their nails it was the framer and his air gun happy helpers. One size fits all and the longer the better it holds.
 
  #13  
Old 09-14-15, 06:30 AM
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Near Lansing, Michigan
Posts: 10,288
Agreed there could be a fight on this one, and assuming the siding contractor used reasonable sized nails, they weren't negligent, so it wouldn't really be their fault. It's either the cabling was installed too close to the surface or just a big dose of bad luck.
 
  #14  
Old 09-14-15, 11:54 AM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,212
I asked in post #6 about the length of the nails, but the OP hasn't been back since he started this thread.
 
  #15  
Old 09-15-15, 09:25 PM
Member
Join Date: Sep 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 31
I like Ray 2047's idea here. It might be easier to repair this from the inside. If the contractor who put the siding up is halfway decent, they would send someone licensed to find and fix the problem for you. However, some contractors are not decent and may tell you your SOL and you are paying for any repairs. In this case, try tracing the wire in any areas where the contractor was working. Is your house two story? If so, this will be much more difficult, but if its only one story, you should easily be able to trace the wire from the box to the wall then up to the attic if applicable. Also, you could start un-hooking the wire at each power using point along the circuit until it doesn't blow any more. Ex. Turn off the breaker, then unhook the wires in the last item in the circuit such as an outlet or light fixture. Turn the breaker back on, and if it still blows, then you know the short is between the wires you just unhooked and the box. Keep working your way down the circuit until you get to the box, unhooking the wires at each part of the circuit as you go. Eventually, the breaker wont trip anymore and you will now know which part of the circuit has the nail through it. Remove the drywall when you find the right spot and repair/replace the wire.
 
  #16  
Old 09-16-15, 09:01 AM
Member
Join Date: May 2015
Location: USA
Posts: 3,138
Had a thought about this. Wonder if this would work. Kill power to the whole house. Then tie the black and white of the affected circuit (temporarily) to hot and energize. they are shorted together so this shouldn't cause any problems (but I'd unplug everything anyway). Then run one of the stud finders with the live wire sensing feature over the siding and see if it picks up the hot nail(s).

Perhaps a long shot, but easy enough to try and way easier than removing siding or slicing drywall.

You folks think this might work?
 
  #17  
Old 09-16-15, 11:40 AM
Handyone's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: U.S.
Posts: 5,451
I asked in post #6 about the length of the nails, but the OP hasn't been back since he started this thread.
Key is OP has not posted back, hopefully problem solved. I can tell anyone that has a similar problem that I am responsible for work performed for up to 10 years in California. Normal warranty on work is one year, the ten years is for negligence or doing something that was not to standards and discovered much later.
 
  #18  
Old 09-16-15, 03:22 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 11,979
That might work Carbide. One might also get lucky with a non-contact voltage tester on the siding side to find a hot nail.
 
  #19  
Old 09-16-15, 04:37 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NJ - USA
Posts: 43,430
The biggest problem with that method is if the foil covered backer board was used.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Display Modes
'