Any switch or outlet use trips circuit breaker at panel

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  #1  
Old 10-03-20, 09:24 AM
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Any switch or outlet use trips circuit breaker at panel

Hi, I need some assistance with troubleshooting an electrical issue on a single circuit in my home. Home is approx 10 years old. This circuit has always been “sensitive” and has tripped before when a vacuum has been used on this circuit.

I noticed that the breaker was tripped on this circuit. I unplugged everything plugged into an outlet and turned off all light switches on this circuit. I can reset the breaker and it stays on. If I turn on any light switch or try to use any outlet on this circuit the breaker trips at the panel.

I bought an outlet tester and did find one outlet on the circuit that was listed as “open ground”. I replaced that outlet/receptacle and it now tests ok. I tested all other outlets and they were ok.

I also replaced the breaker at the panel which made no difference.

The circuit breaker will stay on and I can test that power is at the outlets. If I try to turn on a lamp plugged into an outlet or turn on any overhead lights, the breaker trips. No recent electrical work on this circuit. There has been some history of this circuit being “sensitive” to tripping.

Any ideas on how to troubleshoot this issue? Could the issue be at a switch. The confusing part is that the breaker trips if I use any switch or use any outlet but stays on if I don’t use anything.
 

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10-03-20, 09:49 AM
lambition
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Is the breaker AFCI? If so, there might be a loose connection somewhere causing arc. Open all outlets and switches on the same circuit to inspect.

 
  #2  
Old 10-03-20, 09:49 AM
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Is the breaker AFCI? If so, there might be a loose connection somewhere causing arc. Open all outlets and switches on the same circuit to inspect.

 
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Old 10-03-20, 09:53 AM
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Breaker is AFCI. If the outlets test fine with an outlet tester is that a sufficient tests for those? If I open up each switch, what should I be looking for? Thanks for the help.
 
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Old 10-03-20, 10:14 AM
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Outlet testers don't really put any loads. You will need to put some load.
Try putting some loads (such as a light bulb, hair dryer etc..). Test on each outlet starting from the one closest to the breaker. That way you can pin point to a receptacle causing problem.
Outlet closest to the breaker is not always the first outlet, but it often is.

When you open switches or outlet, look for loose screws or loose wire nut. Any possible signs of arcing and overheating.

Also, if your breaker is AFCI/GFCI combo, neutral shorted to ground will cause the breaker to trip when a load is applied. Bare ground wire could be shorted to neutral when outlets are installed.
 
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Old 10-03-20, 10:51 AM
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If any of the devices use the back stab push in connections, move the wires to the screw terminals. Back stabs are notorious for loose connections.
Also be on the look out for any bare ground wires that might be touching the neutral terminals. It will cause GFCI/AFCI fault.
 
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Old 10-03-20, 11:24 AM
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Ok thanks. Currently if I plug in anything to any outlet or turn on any switch it trips. Would that change anything regarding troubleshooting? Or just start as close to the panel as possible and start removing plates and checking outlets.

On this circuit: Approx 20 outlets in two rooms and a bathroom. Also (3) single gang switch boxes for lights (bathroom, shower, closet) a dual gang box with fan and light (Bedroom) and a 4 gang with a fan and three different lights (2 game room Lights with one light switch for attic light).
 
  #7  
Old 10-03-20, 03:44 PM
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This is the symptom of a ground-neutral short. (Incidentally, a GFCI or dual function AFCI/GFCI breaker would trip on a neutral-ground short *without* a load).
 
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  #8  
Old 10-03-20, 04:31 PM
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Found it. Was a closet light fixture that had a neutral ground short. Fixed the issue all is well now. Thanks
 
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