faulty breaker?

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Old 02-09-19, 10:02 AM
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faulty breaker?

I have a 15amp circuit that is absolutely not overloaded (just a few LEDs). All of a sudden the breaker keeps tripping and I cannot figure out why. I crawled through the attic following the Romex – thinking that maybe a rodent had gnawed through the insulation – but I didn't see any damage.

The breaker and box and panel are about five years old. I will add that this breaker is at the bottom of the panel and it has been wet here lately, but I don't see any moisture when I open the box. What's going on? Many thanks.
 
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Old 02-09-19, 10:39 AM
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It costs less than $10 to change the breaker regardless of the manufacturer, maybe as low as $4 for some. I would check the current draw before replacing the breaker, but not everyone has the snap around meter to do this.
 
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Old 02-09-19, 10:46 AM
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Does the breaker that is tripping have any buttons on it ?
 
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Old 02-09-19, 11:54 AM
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The breaker is made by Eaton and it has no button, just the switch lever.
 
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Old 02-09-19, 11:57 AM
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Snap around meter? ...............
 
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Old 02-09-19, 11:59 AM
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When you commented about being wet there I assume you have an outside panel? The easiest thing to do is replace the breaker to see if that solves the problem.

Snap around meter..... he means a clamp-on amp meter.
 
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Old 02-09-19, 12:01 PM
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A snap around meter is a current clamp-on meter where you can check the circuit operating current.

One example
 
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Old 03-02-19, 07:13 PM
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UPDATE...

I swapped out the breaker and the problem was solved. Hooray. Then another heavy rain and the new breaker failed. (I think I mentioned it was the bottom breaker on the panel?) So what to do? Can I wrap the whole panel in plastic? Is there any reason not to do that? The cover to the panel is snug but there is no seal or gasket.
 
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Old 03-02-19, 09:14 PM
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Wrap it in plastic ? That would be like sticking a Band Aid to the door.

Is the panel inside or outside ?
Moisture doesn't bother a panel. Water leaking inside of it is something different.

Post a picture or two of the panel for us.... How-to-insert-pictures.
 
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Old 03-03-19, 08:19 AM
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Then another heavy rain and the new breaker failed.

Did the breaker really fail or did it just trip? If it failed, the Eaton/Cutler-Hammer BR series breakers carry a 10 year warranty and the CH series carries a lifetime warranty. Wrapping the panel in plastic leads me to believe you have a water problem. Is it possible you have a NEMA 1 (indoor) panel installed outside where you should have a NEMA 3R (raintight) panel?
 
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Old 03-03-19, 07:18 PM
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Will do asap. Thanks.....................................
 
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Old 03-03-19, 07:27 PM
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I'll check and report. Thanks...........
 
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Old 03-05-19, 02:29 PM
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Is this the proper sort of panel for an exterior wall?

Name:  elect panel best.jpg
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Last edited by PJmax; 03-07-19 at 08:25 AM. Reason: resized picture
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Old 03-07-19, 08:15 AM
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Yes, that is a NEMA 3R CSED which means it is a raintight combination service entrance device. It looks to be about 25 years old. Circuit breakers will trip either on overload or a direct short, have you checked for those conditions. A loose connection at the breaker can allow the breaker to heat up and trip the same as being overloaded. Circuit breakers do sometimes just go bad, but that isn't a common failure although it does occasionally happen.
 
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Old 03-07-19, 02:16 PM
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Thanks. The panel was installed three years ago. Is it possible that moisture inside the wall is causing the breaker to trip? I went into the attic and followed the course of the romex as far as it was visible but saw no problems. Or could moisture be getting in through the mast? I'm flummoxed.
 
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Old 03-07-19, 02:33 PM
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The fact that it is the bottommost breaker that trips makes me suspect moisture is getting into the panel somehow and accumulating at the bottom and causing the short. The connections to the breaker are not loose.
 
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Old 03-08-19, 08:03 AM
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It looks much older than 3 to 5 years old. Show us a good picture of the weather head because moisture could be getting in there if it is damaged. But remember, I wouldn't do anything too drastic till:

It costs less than $10 to change the breaker regardless of the manufacturer, maybe as low as $4 for some. I would check the current draw before replacing the breaker, but not everyone has the snap around meter to do this.

A picture of the breaker section with all covers removed would also be helpful.
 
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Old 03-08-19, 08:23 PM
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Will post those photos asap. Panel was installed three years ago new. I did replace the breaker and thought I had solved the problem but rain proved me wrong. Is there any danger in reseting the breaker and having it trip three times/day? Thank you all for your patient help.
 
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Old 03-09-19, 04:46 AM
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Hi, try swapping the conductor that is on that breaker to one of the same size that is higher up in the panel, I can’t believe you could have that much water in the panel to create a problem with a breaker.

Geo
 
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Old 03-10-19, 01:37 PM
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I am also doubting the breaker is/was bad. What lighting does this circuit feed, are any of them outdoor lights?

Still want to see the pictures of the panel interior.
 
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Old 03-14-19, 12:40 PM
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Thank you all for your patience. I haven't had a moment to remove the panel cover to make a photo, but to answer one question... this circuit is for half a dozen interior overhead lights and one exterior light mounted under a roof overhang. It should not get any direct moisture there.
 
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Old 03-14-19, 06:14 PM
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Certainly doesn't sound like enough of a load to trip the breaker.
 
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Old 03-18-19, 04:40 PM
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The weather has dried out and the breaker no longer trips. I still worry about the cause of the problem though. Someone asked to see a photo of the weather head; it's attached.

BTW... what do you call the connectors that connect the drop to the line going into the weather head? (Just for my education.) You can see them in my photo.
 
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