+ Reply to Thread
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 25
  1. #1
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Posts
    1

    Default Bad circuit breaker?

    Hi -
    Live in a 30-year-old house; among other things we've done, I've been slowly replacing all the electrical outlets and light switches - both for aesthetics and because they're so old that they're loose.
    Today I changed out all in the master bedroom and upstairs hallway. When I flipped the circuit breaker back on, it tripped. I went upstairs, checked all the wiring, saw nothing, flipped it again. It reset - but when I went upstairs again, still no power. I went back and (after flipping the circuit breaker off of course) disconnected every outlet and switch I messed with today, leaving the wires all dangling but absolutely not touching each other nor anything else. Flipped the circuit breaker again - it still stayed on without tripping, but still no power at any outlet or switch. Ideas? Think the circuit breaker is bad?

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Bad circuit breaker?

    Think the circuit breaker is bad?
    It's possible ... however ..... there is one simple test to find out.
    Simply swap this breaker with another in the panel.

    If after swapping breakers the problem stays on the circuit in question then you can bet it isn't likely the breaker.

    If the same problem moves to the other circuit then it indicates the breaker in question is likely bad.

    One question comes to mind based on the vintage of the home's wiring .... is this aluminium wiring?

    If it is ...... you need to be using appropriate fixtures that are rated for aluminium wiring and not for copper wiring .... or the appropriate transition pigtail for aluminium to copper.


    If the breaker checks out OK .... then it seems to have only started after you were doing the upgrades which seems to indicate something has been disturbed ?

    As a recommendation don't insert the wires into the holes on the back of the receptacles ... instead make sure to use the screw terminals .

    When I flipped the circuit breaker back on, it tripped. I went upstairs, checked all the wiring, saw nothing,
    It's possible there may be a nicked hot wire with the bare conductor touching the grounded box. This might show up when you pushed the wires back into the box.


    It reset - but when I went upstairs again, still no power. I went back and (after flipping the circuit breaker off of course) disconnected every outlet and switch I messed with today, leaving the wires all dangling but absolutely not touching each other nor anything else. Flipped the circuit breaker again - it still stayed on without tripping, but still no power at any outlet or switch. Ideas?
    Is there a GFCI receptacle somewhere upstream that may be feeding this circuit?

    There were 2 types of GFCI receptacles ...

    One type .... when power was disconnected to the GFCI and restored you have to manually reset the GFCI. These types were commonly used for areas where things like table saws would be plugged in ... when the power went out and came back on the saw wouldn't start on it's own..... for example.

    The second type .... when power is disconnected and restored the GFCI is live without needing to manually reset.

    If there is a GFCI in the circuit somewhere it may have also tripped and not feeding the downstream receptacles you are replacing.


    It's also possible when you had been replacing the receptacles you may have loosened a neutral or hot splice under a wire nut in one of the junction boxes.

    Just some thoughts.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Bad circuit breaker?

    Oops ... once again my slow 2 finger typing ... sorry for duplicating information.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2008
    Location
    Lakeland ,MN
    Posts
    356

    Default Re: Bad circuit breaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by YukYuk View Post
    First of all when a CB trips simply flipping it to on doesn't always do the trick. To fully RESET it and close the circuit, you cycle it completely all the way to the FULL OFF position before resetting to on, try completely cycling the CB (manually switch to OFF then reset to ON) but not until you have first verified your circuit is safe to do so. Secondly, if you removed all of the devices and have the wiring open in multiple places, how are you determining no power? If you had wired the receptacles through devices not pigtails, your circuit would be open in multiple places now.

    Are you sure you properly traced this circuit and had the power from the panel side of the circuit correctly identified? Didn't make a mistake within one of the boxes regarding line and load? especially at the switch loops in this circuit - and those that control a receptacle? Remembered to break the yoke where controlling only half of a duplex with a wall switch? May be the CB was fine, and you made a wiring error.

    30 years ago it was still common for electricians to seperate pure lighting circuits from receptacle circuits, and for both of these type of circuits to be in more than one room/area, especially halls/bedrooms.
    Are you using back-stab connections or placing the wires under the screws on the sides of these devices?

    Metal junction boxes? Good idea to use the screws, and run electrical tape over the connections.

    Are you pigtailing the devices or running thru?

    If metal boxes are you relying on self-grounding to the box (removing paper washers) or installing a ground wire to the back of the box with a ground screw (green)?

    P.S. It concerns me that you said re-energized the circuit with every outlet open, devices removed, with open wiring. You might want to ask a qualified, licensed electrician to visit your home, especially if you have a concern at the panel. Generally, it is unwise to open a live panel if you don't know what you're doing in there.
    I am sorry maybe in your part of the country that was common not to combine lighting and outlets. But that was not the case in all parts of the country. to the OP do not assume that when you turn a breaker off it is just light or just outlets. they wire them together all the time use a tester to make sure it is not energized.
    Harry

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Aug 2007
    Location
    The Great White North
    Posts
    4,045

    Default Re: Bad circuit breaker?

    Ravens53 .... absolutely agree ... good points.
    "" an ounce of perception -- a pound of obscure "
    - Rush

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Bad circuit breaker?

    I have a question, which may seem simple for many of you professional electricians, but I cannot seem to figure it out. I recently purchased a new chandelier lighting fixture for the kitchen in my house. As the previous lighting was working properly, I installed the new light by connecting the two black and white wires then grounding it. When turning on the circuit breaker, the breaker instantly tripped off. I then tried disconnecting the ground wire, for whatever reason, and the light turned on; however the switch controlling the light in the room had no function and wouldn't turn the light on or off. First of all, I don't really understand how the ground wire would affect the operation of this light. Secondly, does the fact that the circuit breaker instantly trips off when turned on mean that that breaker is bad and needs replaced? Does anyone have any experience with this specific situation? Any sort of information you can supply would be very helpful. Thank you in advance...

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,792

    Default Re: Bad circuit breaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by prkeefer View Post
    I have a question, which may seem simple for many of you professional electricians, but I cannot seem to figure it out. I recently purchased a new chandelier lighting fixture for the kitchen in my house. As the previous lighting was working properly, I installed the new light by connecting the two black and white wires then grounding it. When turning on the circuit breaker, the breaker instantly tripped off. I then tried disconnecting the ground wire, for whatever reason, and the light turned on; however the switch controlling the light in the room had no function and wouldn't turn the light on or off. First of all, I don't really understand how the ground wire would affect the operation of this light. Secondly, does the fact that the circuit breaker instantly trips off when turned on mean that that breaker is bad and needs replaced? Does anyone have any experience with this specific situation? Any sort of information you can supply would be very helpful. Thank you in advance...
    The only way a ground is going to trip the breaker is if the ground and the hot is connected to the same point. That could be a short in the light, however with the other problems you stated, I would have to suspect you have it wired wrong. For better help we need to know exactly what wires and how many you have in the box and to what you connected the ground.
    Jack
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Bad circuit breaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by JLMCDANIEL View Post
    The only way a ground is going to trip the breaker is if the ground and the hot is connected to the same point. That could be a short in the light, however with the other problems you stated, I would have to suspect you have it wired wrong. For better help we need to know exactly what wires and how many you have in the box and to what you connected the ground.
    Jack
    There are two wires and a ground coming from the ceiling box. I am attaching the black and white wires from the fixture to the correct wires specified in the instructions. I am then attaching the two ground wires together, then stringing them around teh ground screw on the mounting bracket. I do not thing there is any way I am wiring this thing wrong. DO you think the instructioned have the wires reversed? I am hoping there is not a problem with the light fixture either, but I have no idea.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
    Posts
    6

    Default Re: Bad circuit breaker?

    Quote Originally Posted by YukYuk View Post
    prkeefer,

    If, for example your incoming power (from the panel direction) for this fixture location was at the light, and continued on to another working location from there, or terminated the circuit there, and from that light location hot to your switch loop was routed this would explain the results you mentioned, since as you described it you joined all black wires present with the fixture's black wire, and all white wires present with the fixture's white wire, and all grounds present with the fixture ground - you may have created a direct short and grounded your "hot" via the fixture and its ground wire. This is evidenced by your first wiring attempt having the circuit breaker blow instantly, and when disconnecting the ground not having the circuit breaker blow instantaneously but having the light in an "always on" state.

    A switch loop can be wired into a branch circuit in a number of different ways. Most important is to determine before you begin where power from the panel is and the onward path of the circuit. It is common in wiring systems with 2 wires or 2 wires plus ground to remark the white wire and use it in a simple switch loop.

    Before you began your project did you observe and take note of the wiring on the original fixture? Did you notice a piece of black electrical tape or other color (not green or gray) marked on a white wire? Did you notice a black marker notch on the white insulation? Did you take any notes or snap a photograph before you began?

    Examine also carefully, as sometimes an aged white insulation wire can yellow overtime, and look similar to an old yellow insulated wire. Do you have testing equipment at your disposal, if so what? Have you ever traced the path of a circuit?

    Another possibility is that you have another issue elsewhere in the circuit or switch loop - i.e. an arc fault situation, loose wire or nicked insulation, or a nail penetration, etc. broken switch, etc. in addition to your apparent wiring error.

    Hope that helps.
    There is another light past the light fixture I am trying to install in my kitchen, which is an outside porch light. This light is still working properly. I guess I don't really know where to go from here except to maybe contact an electrician, but I would like to try and rectify the situation before doing so. It sounds like the first scheme you posted in your last reply fits the description of what I am seeing, though not being an electrician, I cannot be certain. There were no marks or tape to indicate anything out of the ordinary with the light originally installed, though I did not take a picture or remember anything out of the ordinary with the original light fixtures connection. I do not have any sort of electrical equipment to help out with this problem either. How would one go about rectifying this problem in a way that wouldn't ruin the circuit breaker or wiring already established if the solution does not work out? Your last post was helpful, but if you have a simple fix to this problem I would love to experiment on the light, given the power is off haha. Thank you

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Fayette County, Ohio
    Posts
    5,792

    Default Re: Bad circuit breaker?

    When you say there are two wires in the box, do you mean one black and one white or do you mean two cables with a black and white on each?
    Jack
    Last edited by JLMCDANIEL; 08-05-2008 at 12:04 AM.
    Be sure you live your life, because you are a long time dead.-Scottish Proverb

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •