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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
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    2

    Default Breaker in circuit panel box keeps popping

    I recently had half my basement finished by contractors. I just tried to plug in a small space heater and shortly there after my electric turned off. what does this mean?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,622

    Default Re: Breaker in circuit panel box keeps popping

    One circuit or the whole house? If it was one breaker, what was the rating of the breaker, how many watts was the heater, and what else was plugged into the circuit?
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Ma
    Posts
    9

    Default Re: Breaker in circuit panel box keeps popping

    why didn't you have heat installed? space heaters are not good.. probably overloaded the circuit..or maybe they wired it to an arc fault breaker check to see if it needs to be reset

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Truckee, Calif.
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: Breaker in circuit panel box keeps popping

    Ohm's Law....amps = watts / volts.... so if your heater is rated at 1500 watts and 120 volts (standard plug), then you would be drawing 12.5 amps just for the heater. Add a few lights, TV, etc. and you can easily exceed the breaker rating. Using an exetnsion cord with the heater will make matters worse. Most breakers trip at 125% of rating. Don't assume a bad breaker. It's probably preventing you from setting your house on fire.
    Just because you can, it doesn't mean you should!

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Feb 2009
    Posts
    693

    Default Re: Breaker in circuit panel box keeps popping

    Quote Originally Posted by Vern Smith View Post
    Ohm's Law....amps = watts / volts.... so if your heater is rated at 1500 watts and 120 volts (standard plug), then you would be drawing 12.5 amps just for the heater. Add a few lights, TV, etc. and you can easily exceed the breaker rating. Using an exetnsion cord with the heater will make matters worse. Most breakers trip at 125% of rating. Don't assume a bad breaker. It's probably preventing you from setting your house on fire.

    I sure like this post. Agree as well.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Pacific Northwet
    Posts
    1,418

    Default Re: Breaker in circuit panel box keeps popping

    Using an extension cord won't increase the load on the circuit. What it will do is increase the resistance, lowering the effective voltage & wattage of the heater (and thereby lower the amperage draw). Using an extension cord with a heater is a big no-no because the heavy load of the heater tends to be more than the extension cord is rated for; the cord itself may overheat and start a fire.

    My advice to everyone: when the walls are open, install more wires & circuits than you think you'll need. You'll need them, and it's cheaper to install sooner than later.

    Edit: a breaker may trip at around 125% of rating after a short period of time, but it will allow probably a 200% draw for a fraction of a second (to allow for motor loads starting up) and may trip at only 105% over a long period of time. Many breakers use both thermal and a magnetic trip; the thermal handles the long-term-slight-overload to protect from having too much on the circuit, and the magnetic handles the short-term-high-overload to protect from short circuits.
    Last edited by Fencepost; 04-24-2009 at 01:58 AM.
    The "Senior Member" designation under my name doesn't mean I know a lot, it just means I talk a lot.I've been a DIYer since I was 12 (thanks, Dad!). I have read several books on various home improvement topics. I do not have any current code books I can refer to. I was an apprentice plumber for two years.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jan 2009
    Location
    Truckee, Calif.
    Posts
    24

    Default Re: Breaker in circuit panel box keeps popping

    Just an edit to the edit...true that an extension cord will not increase current.....but it can cause a motor operated device (such as a fan) to stall due to low voltage and thus draw more current due to the reduced CEMF. Most small household breakers are thermal only, and over time, if frequently tripped, will trip at lower and lower currents until they will not hold even normal loads. This is due to the weakening of the spring tension of the bimetallic trip/reset latching mechanism. Larger thermal magnetic breakers have an instantaneous magnetic element that trips in the multiples of rated current range for protection against short circuits. The only real way to know what's going on is to measure the load with a clamp-on ammeter.

    Just my humble opinion.
    Just because you can, it doesn't mean you should!

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Breaker in circuit panel box keeps popping

    To add... there are a number of small household breakers that incorporate both thermal and magnetic trip systems. The thermal ( bimetalic ) is the common portion for overloads which cause the heat. The electromagnetic portion is more common for short circuit tripping.

    Circuit breakers also have a finite life .... number of trips. Mostly due to the arcing that occurs when the circuit is broken under load..... corrosion deteriorates the internal contacts when this arcing happens. This is one reason a circuit breaker shouldn't be used to a switch a circuit on & off regularily.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

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