Can old breakers be bad without tripping?

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Old 07-21-18, 11:57 AM
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Can old breakers be bad without tripping?

I live in a mobile home that is about 23 years old. For several years now circuits keep going dead but the breakers are not tripped. Other strange things have also happened. For instance; to turn on the kitchen ceiling light u have to turn on the range light too but both come on very dimley, sctuslly they dont come on at all anymore. Another problem was after a circuit went dead I replaced an outlet, while doing so, although this circuit was apparently dead and the breaker had been turned off, I got shocked.
Can anyone tell me what the problem may be? I have been told it could be the ground wire but that it would be nearly impossible to find. After all these years I am wondering if the breakers could all just be old, although the breakers on the dead circuits are not tripped.
Can anyone help?
 
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Old 07-21-18, 12:14 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Can old breakers be bad without tripping?
Very rarely.

You need to get a basic analog voltmeter so that you can make test measurements.
Most home improvement stores have an analog meter for $15-20.

An extremely common problem in motor homes and manufactured homes is that the devices (switches and receptacles) use pressure fit connections where the wires are just pressed into connection blocks.

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Old 07-21-18, 06:28 PM
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I agree with PJmax and this is one of the main reasons why I shy from doing work in mobile homes. Nothing but headaches.

The pressure fit connections are almost as bad as "back stabbing" receptacles or switches. They fail over time.
 
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Old 07-21-18, 07:01 PM
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Breakers can go bad without being tripped. They can also become loose on the bus and arc and pit the bus causing issues. What brand is the panel?
 
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Old 07-22-18, 06:54 AM
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The most common cause of lights coming on dimmer than they should (and appliances working sluggishly) is loose connections. Loose connections get hot even with small amounts of current being used and this is the cause of many building fires. You need to stop using the affected circuits and investigate and fix these problems.

The connection block illustrated above has clips that bite into the wire insulation to make contact with the copper wire. The point of contact is very small which in itself limits the current that can be drawn but corrosion over time will make it bad much more quickly compared with a wire held in place by a screw. (Note: screws are not a panacea; if they come loose you have the same problems although properly installed and tightened parts with screw connections will not come loose.)
 
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Old 07-23-18, 11:36 AM
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Thank u all

The outlets and switches are the regular type with the screws.
I don't know anything about electric but I am a 68 year old woman on a very limited income so I am hoping to fix the problem myself.
Since the dead circuits breakers aren't tripped I just thought they may be old.
I just put in a new window AC and had to run an extension cord (one of many in this trailer) I tried several outlets in different rooms but they all tripped. I finally found an outlet in a room that hasn't been used much, it is a guest room. An outlet in that room is working on the AC just fine.
So my uneducated conclusion was the other outlets and breakers have been worn out.
This was at least a new possibility so holds some hope.
One thing I forgot to mention is that I also get some surging in at least one outlet.
Is it safe for me to test the main line with the voltage meter?
 
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Old 07-23-18, 12:22 PM
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It is a Siemens breaker box. I can't figure out how to post a picture here.
 
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Old 07-23-18, 01:59 PM
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Try this for picture posting.... How-to-insert-pictures

It sounds like you have issues there that require an electrician.
 
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