Breaker tripping seemingly at random

Reply

  #1  
Old 11-10-09, 12:35 PM
A
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: OH
Posts: 3
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Breaker tripping seemingly at random

Within the past week a breaker in our house has been tripping at unpredictable times. After some searching, I was able to figure out that the breaker will only trip when the outside lights above the front door are on. For the past year we've kept the lights on practically 24/7. Nothing new has been done to the house recently.

The breaker will not necessarily trip automatically if the lights are on. Sometimes it's an instant trip - flip the switch and out goes the circuit. Sometimes it can last hours, though it's usually sooner than later. I removed the lights from their mounts outside and cleaned out the bug holocaust caused by the resident spiders, but there doesn't appear to be anything visibly wrong with the wiring. I'm using CFL bulbs, but the breaker will even trip if the bulbs are removed and nothing else is using energy on the circuit.

Any thoughts? Could it be the switch? Is it time for new fixtures? Unfortunately, I've been in the position of the watched pot where it won't trip when I'm interested in solving the problem.

Any help would be much appreciated!
 
  #2  
Old 11-10-09, 02:54 PM
S
Member
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: USA
Posts: 1,957
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
If the breaker is tripping with no load whatsoever that sounds like a bad breaker.You'd have to be certain there was 100% nothing pulling on the circuit.Otherwise the delay suggests a heat related cause or heat effected,which again could be the breaker or could be the fixtures which have a short that is impacted by heated parts expanding till they touch or similar.

But the fact that it tripped with nothing at all going on sounds like the breaker.

Also you want to look at everything else on this circuit to make sure it isn't a stealth cause or short.
 
  #3  
Old 11-10-09, 07:19 PM
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: marysville ohio
Posts: 3
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Originally Posted by Agrippa View Post
Within the past week a breaker in our house has been tripping at unpredictable times. After some searching, I was able to figure out that the breaker will only trip when the outside lights above the front door are on. For the past year we've kept the lights on practically 24/7. Nothing new has been done to the house recently.

The breaker will not necessarily trip automatically if the lights are on. Sometimes it's an instant trip - flip the switch and out goes the circuit. Sometimes it can last hours, though it's usually sooner than later. I removed the lights from their mounts outside and cleaned out the bug holocaust caused by the resident spiders, but there doesn't appear to be anything visibly wrong with the wiring. I'm using CFL bulbs, but the breaker will even trip if the bulbs are removed and nothing else is using energy on the circuit.

Any thoughts? Could it be the switch? Is it time for new fixtures? Unfortunately, I've been in the position of the watched pot where it won't trip when I'm interested in solving the problem.

Any help would be much appreciated!


is it an old house i lived in one that they ILLEGALLY installed a breaker box on a old knob and tube system and with a combo of aluminum and old cloth insulated wires and some of the circuits if ya want to call them that were connected together and tripped the breaker every now and then.

and i say illegally installed because i watched in amazment while the guy took the wires coming from the meter off the old fuse panel with out having the service shut off. I stayed to watched cause i figured he get shocked.
 

Last edited by pcboss; 11-11-09 at 06:27 AM. Reason: removed unsafe procedure
  #4  
Old 11-10-09, 08:29 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 13,808
Received 253 Votes on 221 Posts
I suspect that you may not be having an overload situation but a short. This would explain the time you flipped the switch and the breaker tripped right away. I would guess there is a nick in a wire someplace, possibly a cable with no connector or an un-bushed hole, and with vibration the wire will make contact to a grounded box or neutral wire and pow! Tripped breaker.

I suggest removing the light fixtures and inspecting the wire connections in the box and on the fixtures. Look for burn marks or discoloration.
 
  #5  
Old 11-11-09, 06:08 AM
A
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: OH
Posts: 3
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thank you for the responses! I will check all of the wiring to the lights pronto!

To clarify, the breaker will only trip when the outside light is on. If the switch that controls the outside lights are off and all of the other lights connected to that breaker are on then there are no problems.
 
  #6  
Old 11-11-09, 06:29 AM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 15,224
Received 105 Votes on 91 Posts
Originally Posted by Agrippa View Post
To clarify, the breaker will only trip when the outside light is on. If the switch that controls the outside lights are off and all of the other lights connected to that breaker are on then there are no problems.
Sounds like you have already partially isolated your problem down to the wiring from the switch to the fixture.
 
  #7  
Old 11-17-09, 10:47 AM
A
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Nov 2009
Location: OH
Posts: 3
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
This appears to have been fixed. The culprit was most likely the illuminated switch controlling the lights. The switch has been replaced and my house has now been saved from the dark.

I'd like to thank everyone for their help!
 
  #8  
Old 11-17-09, 12:55 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,582
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
Glad you got it. Come om back if you need help again.
 
  #9  
Old 11-17-09, 08:33 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: United States
Posts: 13,808
Received 253 Votes on 221 Posts
Congratulations on finding your problem. Beer 4U2
 
 

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
 
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Description:
Your question will be posted in: