How to find a short without a tripped breaker?

Reply

  #1  
Old 08-17-15, 10:21 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 53
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
How to find a short without a tripped breaker?

Hi,

I tried to replace a broken power switch. I was supposed to turn off the specific breaker first. But that switch does not have a individual breaker. If I want to cut the power, I will have to turn off the main power source, which means every electrical devices will be dead. I don't want to do that.
So I took the risk doing it with the power on, "bang" and some sparks: the power was off and so were a few lights and ventilation fan.
My question is how to trace the short in the situation where no breaker connected.
Thanks in advance.
z_johnq
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 08-17-15, 11:01 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: Northern NJ - USA
Posts: 54,219
Received 478 Votes on 448 Posts
Ok... so after you shorted the switch what happened ? Did a breaker trip ?
Or are you saying nothing tripped and that part of the circuit is now dead?

Every device in the house MUST be on an individual breaker or you risk a fire hazard from overloaded/shorted wiring.
 
  #3  
Old 08-18-15, 06:02 AM
Handyone's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: U.S.
Posts: 5,451
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
"bang" and some sparks: the power was off and so were a few lights and ventilation fan.
You caused the short and you don't have to look for it. If the other devices such as fan and a few lights were off after "bang" I think you just found your breaker. Breakers are sometimes hard to tell if they are in the tripped position. Lightly move each handle and see if one feels loose.
 
  #4  
Old 08-19-15, 06:41 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 53
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Thanks guys. Yes. I thought a breaker should get tripped after the "bang" but it was not as I looked at the power panel. I agree with PJMax that Every device in the house MUST be on an individual breaker or you risk a fire hazard... but it's not what I got.

Can a breaker get loosed? I'll test it and let you know. Thanks again.
 
  #5  
Old 08-19-15, 07:14 AM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 13,022
Received 68 Votes on 60 Posts
Is this a house that you own? How old is the electrical service?
 
  #6  
Old 08-19-15, 08:17 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
Is there a subpanel you haven't noticed. Could be some place it shouldn't such as in a cabinet or back of the closet. Maybe in an attic or crawl space.
 
  #7  
Old 08-19-15, 06:43 PM
Geochurchi's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Nov 2012
Location: USA
Posts: 4,120
Received 22 Votes on 22 Posts
Certainly not EVERY device is not on an individual circuit,you have several devices on a circuit,hence the reason some other lights ,fan etc. went out.
Geo
 
  #8  
Old 08-20-15, 04:53 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 53
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Yes, I own the house; it's not new no more, was built in 1980.

Thanks for the reminder that there might be another subpanel that I overlooked.

Btw, I checked and there is no loose breaker. None of them got tripped.
 
  #9  
Old 08-20-15, 04:56 AM
ray2047's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 33,597
Received 13 Votes on 11 Posts
I checked and there is no loose breaker. None of them got tripped
Then each must be checked with a multimeter, preferably analog, to be sure it reads correct voltage.
 
  #10  
Old 08-20-15, 05:03 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: USA
Posts: 53
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
No, I haven't done that yet. When you said 'analog', it meant non-digital, right? I'll let you know. Thanks for the quick return.
 
Reply

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off


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