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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-28-2017, 09:08 PM   #1

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Breakers Blowing


I have been having a problem at my house for the last few weeks. It started around the time I put up Christmas Lights so my initial thought was that it was the poorly manufactured Christmas Lights. The first breaker to trip was the one in my bedroom (not on the same circuit as the Christmas lights). The breaker would trip, I would reset and at no specific interval it would trip again. My family and I went out of town on the 26th and we came home the same night and a different breaker had tripped. Again, it would trip multiple times at no specific intervals. Last night, a third breaker tripped and this was after we took all the Christmas lights down. This was the point I called an electrician. They came out today and checked the breaker box. They found that my alarm system transformer was causing the box to "ohm" out. Once I unplugged that transformer it cleared the issue he was at the breaker box. Because of the cold weather, one of the gentlemen I spoke with last night at the company the technician came from said some of the leads get loose in the breaker box. After I told the technician this he tightened them all down. I felt like I was leading the technician and he really wasn't trying to trouble shoot some of the causes that it could be. Me not being very familiar with wiring nor an electrician, I was depending on him to help guide me through this process, not the other way around. At $100 an hour, and since he couldn't get the breaker to trip while he was here as well as what his supervisor said about tightening things down, I felt confident with him leaving the way it was. About an hour after he left, one of the breakers tripped again and tripped two more times within an hour after the initial trip. A forth circuit tripped soon after that as well. I spoke with my uncle, who emphatically claimed not to be an electrician, said that it sounded like it could be the ground either leading to the breaker box or to maybe an animal got to the ground in my crawl space. Considering there are multiple circuits tripping, many of which did not have much load on them at all, he thought it was the only commonality. What I am looking for is to find out if other people may have had this problem as well and what the cause was or other things I can lead/help the next technician who comes out to my house to try and fix this issue. I appreciate any help that can be provided.

V/R,

Joe

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-28-2017, 09:13 PM   #2

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Re: Breakers Blowing


A little more background about the home: I have lived in this house for 8 years, was brand new when I bought it and this is the first time I have had these issues.

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-28-2017, 09:47 PM   #3

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Re: Breakers Blowing


Sounds like something is chewing on your wires

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-28-2017, 09:57 PM   #4

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Re: Breakers Blowing


It's NOT the ground.

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-28-2017, 10:18 PM   #5

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Re: Breakers Blowing


Not the ground. Not the xmas lights. Not going to be fixed by tightening
things at the panel, but still a good thing to do now and then.
Could be critter damage.
No common denominator like a humidifier (or other appliance) that was plugged
into each of the ccts?
If not, guess I'd start by removing each of the hots from their breaker and
measuring their resistance to ground and neutral.
After that I'd megger them, being careful not to fry any loads.

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-28-2017, 10:45 PM   #6

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Re: Breakers Blowing


This time of year people innocuously use 1800 watt electric heaters plugged in and don't realize THAT is what is tripping their breakers. Anything similar to that happening?

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-29-2017, 03:35 AM   #7

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Re: Breakers Blowing


Are you i a cold zone with snow?

what are the wires? romex or wires in a conduit? plastic or metal?

Any hint of water or ice damage? anywhere in the house?

Any hint or history of critters getting in anywhere?

Map the circuits so you know what services what and in what order.

disconnect one outlet at a time so you can see what is down stream from each other

until you have the house mapped.

Disconnect things in outlets or lights until the breakers stop tripping.

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-29-2017, 04:03 AM   #8

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Re: Breakers Blowing


You should keep a log/diary of which breaker has tripped, what time/day, frequency, weather conditions, what load involved, single, double, amps, etc.

If/Once a cct is tripped, determine/verify what portions of house are served by each brkr & log. This way you can intelligently communicate yoir observations.

Once you have established a pattern you should try marking the brkrs original location, then remove affected brkrs and switch with other existing good brkrs that serve other cct that haven't tripped. KEEP IN MIND NOT THE MIX AMP RATINGS OF BRKRS... in other words 15-15, 20-20, 30-30, etc.

See if `bad` brkr is now `good` and if `good` brkr is now `bad`...

what this will confirm is whether problems are with cct or brkr...

record findings...

if you find a problem that move with bad brkr...replace that bad brkr...

if problem stays with cct location, then problem is in this wiring cct...

& u will need an electrician to check out affected ccts.

Peace

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-29-2017, 06:21 AM   #9

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Re: Breakers Blowing


Hit the "enter" key ...hit the enter key . Agreed, sounds like wide spread critter damage to the cables. Has the OP heard or seen signs of squirrels/rats in his attic or crawlspace?

Has anyone tested the actual voltage of all the outlets in the home to check for open neutrals possibly ?

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Last edited by Gregsoldtruck79; 12-29-2017 at 06:31 AM.

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-29-2017, 06:58 AM   #10

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Re: Breakers Blowing


joe2271

lives in a house which is only eight years old and now (suddenly) circuit breakers are "tripping".

However, it has not been established whether these Circuit Breakers are tripping from overload or (perhaps) they are GFCI breakers tripping because of a "leakage" to Ground problem.

While it could be "critter damage", it is unlikely that any particular "critter" causing overload tripping of a circuit breaker by their "activities" would be able to inflict further damage on any other circuit! (RIP Critter)

However, critters inflicting only "leakage" problems may be able to go on to cause more problems.

Of course, there could be multiple critters.

While loose connections will cause heating problems at the connections concerned, they cannot cause "overload tripping" of any overload circuit breaker.

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-29-2017, 07:37 AM   #11

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Re: Breakers Blowing


Very true, Frodo,

I have always been of the mindset that the "overload" AKA overcurrent protection (too much load) tripping of the standard breaker ...

and the tripping of the breaker due to a " Hot to neutral "or Hot to equipment ground conductor" short are different. Related, but different.

In my opinion, the OP is not dealing with breakers tripping from over currents,. But possibly, random shorts as the bare Hot/Neutral/grounding conductors are touching within the cable or another grounded object.

I have never been good at troubleshooting someone's electrical issues, from a PC in my home though. I need to "hands on" with my DMM and tools going on the hunt using the process of elimination technique. . JMO

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-29-2017, 12:04 PM   #12

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Re: Breakers Blowing


Are these arc-fault breakers?

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-30-2017, 01:12 AM   #13

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So I apologize for the lack of paragraphs. I will do better this time I promise. And since I need one more sentence to be considered a paragraph I shall answer a question; my house does have arc fault breakers.

Seriously, thank you all for your insight and suggestions. I apologize for the delay in my response. I spoke with the electrician from the company I contacted again today. He said that what he would do next is check very single outlet at about 100 an hour. He gave me some pointers for me to look into on my own; check the outlets with a receptical tester and to see if the wires were not poked in the outlet and wrapped around the screws. (Please excuse my ignorance in terminology).

New paragraph; probably do not need it but will include anyway. I obliged his recommendations. All of the receptical on the impacted circuits showed no faults with the tool and the wires were wrapped around the screws rather than poked. I had multiple trips today on the first two breakers I had issues with.

I told the electrician my findings and he said he could come out and check each outlet for me at 97 an hour. I still wasn't convinced it was the outlets considering how random it was. I think I may have found the culprit though. After I hung up with him I sat there for a while then started to go to each outlet again. I.... forgot to mention one thing yesterday. Because I have terrible Wi-Fi coverage at the far end of my second floor I bought a powerline adapter. At that point I stared at it and began cursing myself. I immediately unplugged it as well as the one upstairs. It had to cross multiple circuits to get where I had it plugged in. I googled it and others seem to have had similar issues with them. The problem is that I bought and installed it about 3 months ago. The change? It was the coldest week so far this year at my house. Maybe it was a mixture of the weather and the adapter... I am not 100% sure this is the fix but it has been 12 hours and no trips.

Thank you again for all of your insight and ideas. I really apologize for not bringing the powerline adapter up yesteday. It had been plugged in behind a dresser for so long I forgot about it. I have also heard great things about them and never thought about this being a problem. Also, never knew how sensitive the arc fault breakers were until now.

Thanks again everyone.


Last edited by joe2271; 12-30-2017 at 01:18 AM.

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-30-2017, 10:07 AM   #14

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Re: Breakers Blowing


Arc faults save lives! If they don't make you kill yourself first.....

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Breakers Blowing - Electrical - DIY Chatroom Home Improvement Forumlove car 12-30-2017, 10:09 AM   #15

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Re: Breakers Blowing


Curious about the "power line adapter" . Could you provide a link?

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