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Breaker keeps tripping even after unplugging all appliances.

Breaker keeps tripping even after unplugging all appliances.

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  #1  
Old 09-14-17, 10:15 PM
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Breaker keeps tripping even after unplugging all appliances.

So a bunch of stuff loses power: computer, phone, monitor, modem, printer etc., all from the same outlet.

I've had this configuration for many years without a problem.

When I try to switch the breaker on, it immediately shuts itself off, even after unplugging everything.

I'm thinking its either a weak breaker thats deteriorated over time or a short somewhere in the wire (possibly due to a goddam rodent chewing thru a wire). I live deep in the woods and this is not uncommon.

But I'm not sure where to start or how to diagnose the issue.

Any help would be much appreciated.

 
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  #2  
Old 09-14-17, 10:55 PM
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Disconnect the wire to the breaker. Will it now reset? If not replace the breaker.

If the breaker will reset with the wire removed remove the wire from a different breaker of the same amp rating and connect the wire from the problem circuit to that breaker. If the circuit trips the test breaker it is something in the circuit.
 
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Old 09-15-17, 01:24 AM
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We're not able to edit posts, correct?

I wanted to add a pic of the breakers:

 
  #4  
Old 09-15-17, 01:30 AM
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Originally Posted by ray2047 View Post
Disconnect the wire to the breaker. Will it now reset? If not replace the breaker.

If the breaker will reset with the wire removed remove the wire from a different breaker of the same amp rating and connect the wire from the problem circuit to that breaker. If the circuit trips the test breaker it is something in the circuit.

So I'm just disconnecting the black wire to the right of the breaker, correct?

Not sure if its clear, but its the blue colored breaker on the right, 2nd from the top.
 
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Old 09-15-17, 01:36 AM
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A member has a limited time to edit his post. It used to be approx 15 and then the "edited" slate would show. I think it may be 90 minutes total. After that only a mod can change a post.

Ok.... you posted a picture of an older split bus panel.

Yes... the wire is on the right side of the breaker.
The 2 pole green breaker in the upper left position will kill that part of the panel.
 
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Old 09-15-17, 01:50 AM
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Originally Posted by PJmax View Post
A member has a limited time to edit his post. It used to be approx 15 and then the "edited" slate would show. I think it may be 90 minutes total. After that only a mod can change a post.

Ok.... you posted a picture of an older split bus panel.

Yes... the wire is on the right side of the breaker.
The 2 pole green breaker in the upper left position will kill that part of the panel.

Right right, so I should flip (turn off) the green breaker before I remove the wire?

Please, dont hesitate to mention the obvious!

I'm a complete noob.
 
  #7  
Old 09-15-17, 02:21 AM
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I learned on old 60 amp breaker panels with no disconnect so I'm use to just turning off the breaker I'm working on and doing it in a live panel but that is not safe for a newbie. Sometimes I forget to mention the safe way. Pete is correct you must turn off the lower half of the panel before working with the breakers.

However there will still be live parts so be very careful where you put your hands. The old rule I was taught was if at all possible keep one hand in your back pocket. Using one hand loosen the screw with a driver that has a wood or plastic handle.



Using one hand and a pair of needle nose pliers with plastic or rubber grips. remove the wire. (Grab the insulated part of the wire.) I have been known to wrap electric tape around each jaw also.

Note most plastic and rubber grips on pliers and handles on screwdrivers are not rated for voltage but will probably give some protection. You can buy pliers and screwdrivers with handles rated for electrical work if you want to up your safety.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 09-15-17 at 02:44 AM.
  #8  
Old 09-15-17, 05:58 AM
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Sorry, I am just going to put my two cents in here for a moment if I may please.

lubriderm:

When I try to switch the breaker on, it immediately shuts itself off, even after unplugging everything.

Something may be saying to me that maybe, just maybe you may think that you are actually resetting the breaker each time and then it trips again. Please take a few more moments and actually take a good hold of the breaker handle and push it all the way to the off position. Sometimes these breakers really need to be pushed into the "off" position pretty firmly before you can turn them back to the "on" position. If you are just moving the breaker to the "off" position and then moving to the "on" position the action of the handle returning to the middle or "off" position may be an indicator not that there is a dead short or the breaker may be bad (which it could) but could be an indication that you may not be applying enough pressure to the breaker handle and pushing far enough to the "off" position and then the "on" position which has to be done to actually reset the breaker.

I would suggest that before you go removing any wires etc from the breaker that you be really sure that you are actually "resetting" the breaker and then it trips and not thinking you are resetting it and the handle just returns to the tripped position making you think it tripped again.

If I am wrong then fine but if not you can end up saving yourself a lot of time in the long run finding out all it needed was to be reset properly instead.

I'm a complete noob.

Another reason for my above suggestion.
 
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Old 09-16-17, 03:07 PM
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Originally Posted by AFJES View Post
Sorry, I am just going to put my two cents in here for a moment if I may please.

Something may be saying to me that maybe, just maybe you may think that you are actually resetting the breaker each time and then it trips again. Please take a few more moments and actually take a good hold of the breaker handle and push it all the way to the off position. Sometimes these breakers really need to be pushed into the "off" position pretty firmly before you can turn them back to the "on" position. If you are just moving the breaker to the "off" position and then moving to the "on" position the action of the handle returning to the middle or "off" position may be an indicator not that there is a dead short or the breaker may be bad (which it could) but could be an indication that you may not be applying enough pressure to the breaker handle and pushing far enough to the "off" position and then the "on" position which has to be done to actually reset the breaker.

I would suggest that before you go removing any wires etc from the breaker that you be really sure that you are actually "resetting" the breaker and then it trips and not thinking you are resetting it and the handle just returns to the tripped position making you think it tripped again.

If I am wrong then fine but if not you can end up saving yourself a lot of time in the long run finding out all it needed was to be reset properly instead.

Another reason for my above suggestion.

By all means, state the obvious!

I will try and reset the breaker as you suggested but I did notice this: when I did try to turn the breaker on (did it twice), it would flip off while producing a small spark.
 
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Old 09-16-17, 03:10 PM
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.....it would flip off while producing a small spark.
Don't bother disconnecting the wire from the breaker. If you see a spark.... the breaker is good and you have a short somewhere in the circuit.
 
  #11  
Old 09-16-17, 04:24 PM
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Now you need to use the divide and conquer method. Write down everything on the problem circuit. Since all circuits originate from the panel.... look at your list. You should see some devices closer and some further. Pick one on the middle to take apart. Then check again for a short.

As an electrician.... I see this problem all the time. I use an ohmmeter that has a 10 ohm scale on it. I remove the black wire from the breaker and the white wire from the neutral bar. I check the resistance from the black wire to neutral and black to ground to determine what type of short it is. Then I go around to different parts of the circuit and measure the black to neutral or ground depending on which was shorted. Based on this reading I can pinpoint very closely where the problem is. The closer the meter is to 0 ohms (dead short) the closer I am to the short.
 
  #12  
Old 09-17-17, 11:40 AM
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I didn't see where anyone else mentioned this so I will. As was stated you have an old split bus panel. What wasn't stated is that this is an old Zinsco split bus panel and it isn't safe. Zinsco loadcenters are known fire hazards and really should be replaced as soon as you can afford to do so. Considering the age of the loadcenter and condition of the SEU cable, you most likely need all new service entrance wiring, a new meter socket and a new main panel. Grounding should be brought up to current cade as well.
 
  #13  
Old 09-17-17, 08:18 PM
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Thanks for that CasualJoe info (warning in the future to anyone who may have one on my end) - I was not aware of that fact. I guess I can add that panel to a Federal Pacific "Stab-Lock" list of "junky" panels.

Appreciate it CasualJoe; Thanks. : -)
 
  #14  
Old 09-18-17, 01:56 PM
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gfci tester

I would invest in a GFCI tester and make sure all the outlets that your appliances are plugged into are working properly.
 
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Old 09-19-17, 03:50 AM
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A GFCI tester will not be of much use at all if the breaker will not even stay on. The circuit must be energized to be able to use the tester. Also the tester is really checking for ground faults, where as this seems to be a dead short.
 
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Old 09-20-17, 08:14 PM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
I didn't see where anyone else mentioned this so I will. As was stated you have an old split bus panel. What wasn't stated is that this is an old Zinsco split bus panel and it isn't safe. Zinsco loadcenters are known fire hazards and really should be replaced as soon as you can afford to do so. Considering the age of the loadcenter and condition of the SEU cable, you most likely need all new service entrance wiring, a new meter socket and a new main panel. Grounding should be brought up to current cade as well.

When I removed the panel cover, my first thought was holy sh*t.

There are wires all over the place.

You mentioned as soon as I can afford to do so.

Based on all your recommendations, what do you think it would cost?

The connections in the main panel alone look like it would be incredibly time consuming to move to a new panel.
 
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Old 09-20-17, 08:21 PM
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Replacing the panel is only one phase of the project. Based on the cloth covered service cable... the meter pan and service cable should probably be replaced too. Since the breakers all need to be replaced you could be looking at a $1500 job.

Best thing to do is call a few electricians and get some estimates.
 
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Old 09-20-17, 08:22 PM
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Originally Posted by PJmax View Post
Now you need to use the divide and conquer method. Write down everything on the problem circuit. Since all circuits originate from the panel.... look at your list. You should see some devices closer and some further. Pick one on the middle to take apart. Then check again for a short.

As an electrician.... I see this problem all the time. I use an ohmmeter that has a 10 ohm scale on it. I remove the black wire from the breaker and the white wire from the neutral bar. I check the resistance from the black wire to neutral and black to ground to determine what type of short it is. Then I go around to different parts of the circuit and measure the black to neutral or ground depending on which was shorted. Based on this reading I can pinpoint very closely where the problem is. The closer the meter is to 0 ohms (dead short) the closer I am to the short.

So, this breaker is responsible for 2 outlets. Currently, nothing is plugged into these outlets, yet the breaker will still flip back to the off position.

Is the "circuit" a "loop" between the 1st outlet, 2nd outlet and the breaker?
 
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Old 09-21-17, 02:37 AM
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^
Actually, there are 4 outlets which run to that single breaker. I forgot about the other 2.

But nothing was plugged into them. So the breaker is still tripping despite nothing being plugged in.
 
  #20  
Old 10-18-17, 04:31 PM
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Ok, so I thought it was weird that both the outlet and my computer's power supply sh*t the bed at the same time.

So I kind of thought that it may just be the outlet thats fried.

Got a new outlet, installed it and now everything is good to go.

Only thing, the new outlet has an extra screw fora ground but the existing setup only has 4 wires (white and black, 2 for each side).

Can anything be done about this?
 
  #21  
Old 10-18-17, 05:54 PM
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Only thing, the new outlet has an extra screw fora ground but the existing setup only has 4 wires (white and black, 2 for each side). Can anything be done about this?
Assuming this is not conduit or modern armoured cable either replace with an ungrounded receptacle or A GFCI receptacle that has a sticker that reads No ground-GFCI Protected. The receptacle you have can not by code be used.

Exanple of ungrounded receptacle: http://www.homedepot.com/p/Leviton-1...FU-JwAodYeoHMA
 

Last edited by ray2047; 10-18-17 at 09:00 PM.
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