Breaker popped and won't stay on


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Old 10-10-15, 03:47 PM
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Breaker popped and won't stay on

First, to qualify myself....I know little to nothing about electrical. Unless someone here can talk me through this...I'll be out of luck and at the mercy of an electrician's bill.

So here goes nothin':

For some unknown reason, I have a breaker(residential) that won't stay on. I went into the basement and tried the light...nothing. Went to the box and sure enough the corresponding 15 amp breaker popped. I tried to flip it back...nothing. I unplugged everything I could find on the circuit and tried again...nothing. I figured the breaker was shot and I replaced it....again, nothing.

So, before I call an electrical for a house call I thought I would give doityourself a try. Any suggestions on what it might be? Thanks in advance.

Gerry
 
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Old 10-10-15, 04:29 PM
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Usually the first thing to do is to disconnect the wire from the breaker and see if it resets but since you replaced the breaker we can skip that step. So first you need to open each light, switch, and receptacle and look for obvious problems.
 
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Old 10-10-15, 04:33 PM
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I tried to flip it back...nothing. I unplugged everything I could find on the circuit and tried again...nothing.
"Nothing" is not telling us anything.
Nothing..... breaker trips again ?
Nothing.... breaker is now on but no power to circuit ?
 
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Old 10-10-15, 07:06 PM
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It would help to determine if the breaker tripped on overload or from a short circuit.

Did you turn the new breaker fully off and then on?
 
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Old 10-10-15, 07:37 PM
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ok, more info. the wife had the exterior of the house power washed. this has to be the source of the problem. assuming, one of the exterior lights was compromised with pressurized water, suggestions on where to start?
 
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Old 10-10-15, 07:40 PM
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Sounds like you might check for a tripped gfi.
 
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Old 10-10-15, 07:49 PM
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We understand the breaker tripped originally.
How about now.... is the breaker still tripping or is it on and the circuit is dead ?
 
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Old 10-10-15, 08:48 PM
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Breaker is still tripping.
 
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Old 10-10-15, 09:02 PM
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So that would not likely indicate a tripped GFI and I would doubt water in a fixture could trip a regular, non-GFI type, breaker.

The problem indicates a hard short. You could start by checking the outside receptacle to make sure it's not physically shorted to the box. If not there you'll need to check each location that is dead for a short.

Since GFI receptacles are so large it's easy for them to short to a metal box.
 
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Old 10-10-15, 09:27 PM
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Yes, thanks. I m going to start going through the fixtures.
 
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Old 10-10-15, 09:56 PM
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As an electrician I get calls for problems like yours a lot. Here is how I would approach the problem.

I use a good digital VOM (meter) locked on Rx1 or the 100 ohm scale. I'll zero the meter so that when the lead tips are touched I get a true 0 ohm (dead short) reading. I'll go to the panel and disconnect the white wire from the bar. I'll measure from hot to neutral and hot to ground. Then I'll go each location and make the same two measurements without removing anything.

I'll give you an example....
at the panel....... hot to neutral inf. ohms...... hot to ground 3 ohms. The short is hot to ground. From this point on I'll only check from hot to ground.

at the panel..... hot to ground 3 ohms.
a receptacle..... hot to ground 2.9 ohms.
a receptacle..... hot to ground 2 ohms.
a receptacle..... hot to ground 1.5 ohms.
a receptacle..... hot to ground 1 ohm.

The one that comes the closest to 0 is the problem device or very close to the area.

In the meter description I used an ohmmeter set to the 100 ohm scale which is pretty much the lowest you'll find on most meters but I do have a dedicated meter that has a 10 ohm scale and is much easier to see slight differences between readings.
 
 

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