Exterior light keeps tripping the breaker following use of wrong bulb?

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Old 12-30-13, 03:52 PM
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Exterior light keeps tripping the breaker following use of wrong bulb?

Last Halloween my wife for some crazy reason tried putting a purple bulb that was way too large for our path light. The bulb melted the lighting fixture. That light (on the sidewalk) wiring runs underground back to the house, up to the patio light - so they're on the same switch.

So I left it as was up until a few weeks ago, and the patio light worked fine. A few days ago, I tried putting a new bulb in to test the fixture. It never worked, and after a few minutes, tripped the breaker. I took the bulb back out and after this, the breaker would trip even without the bulb, and even though it hadn't tripped it before.

Today I bought a new assembly. I took the old one out of the ground and observed no damage to the wire. I tested the wire with a basic voltage meter and got power. Put the new one in and still didn't work, using 40w bulb and after a few minutes it would trip the breaker (Oddly enough, I tried one of those new phillips 15w LED lights and it worked - but was too bulky so couldn't use it in the fixture).

So I undid everything and capped off the wires and everything but that light is now working fine, i.e. not tripping the breaker. Anyone have any idea what could be going on?
 
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Old 12-30-13, 04:17 PM
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Scratch that "working fine" thing ... lights just went out. I've got the wires capped and had no problems for months after the too large bulb originally blew? Not sure what's going on here, but again, all started when I tried to replace the blown bulb.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
 
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Old 12-30-13, 04:22 PM
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Is this a regular breaker or a GFI breaker ?

Kind of a strange problem that it still lingers after replacing the fixture.
 
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Old 12-30-13, 07:39 PM
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Regular. I'm certainly no electrician but this is a pretty simple connection (or so it would seem). That's why I posted, to see if there's something I'm just not aware of.

It's definitely coming from that switch, though. It won't trip the switch at all unless I switch those two exterior lights on (patio and pathway).
 
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Old 12-30-13, 08:40 PM
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What I posted may seem kind of confusing and long (probably because I don't know what I'm doing) ... main points:

-everything worked fine before too large of a bulb melted in the pathway light

-left the pathway light melted and nonfunctional for a few months, and the other light on the switch (patio light) and others on the circuit always worked fine

-finally decided to try to get the melted bulb out and put a new light in; new bulb didn't work in the light assembly, AND began tripping the fuse when the other light on the switch was on for a few minutes

-replaced the pathway light assembly, observed no problems in the wiring, bulb still doesn't work and trips breaker when that switch is on.

-unhooked the pathway light and capped the wires and still trips breaker when switch (patio light only now - except the wires do go underground about 20 feet before being capped)

-oddly enough, tried a 15w pigtail light and it worked, but still tripped breaker when switched on for long enough

I'm lost. Any suggestions GREATLY appreciated
 
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Old 12-30-13, 09:27 PM
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but still tripped breaker when switched on for long enough
That sounds like the underground cable has a break/cut in it and it's shorting to ground.
Your next step would be disconnect the underground cable where it connects at the house.
 
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Old 01-03-14, 07:32 AM
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Does the breaker trip within two hours when you flip the switch on and there is no bulb in the fixture?

Better yet, get a clamp on ammeter and measure the current in that branch circuit with that switch flipped on versus off. Measure inside the panel where the hot wire for that circuit is attached to the breaker.
 
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