Circuit breaker keeps tripping

Page 7 of 9  
On Thu, 21 Jan 2016 05:21:26 -0800, trader_4 wrote:

The tricks that I was asking about, most people here didn't even know themselves.
I'm not blaming anyone for not knowing the tricks, but, just by way of example some folks would have me pull the breaker, to test its operation, but, a SIMPLER way to test it is to just shut the mains first.
Then see if the breaker still trips. That checks, for example, for mechanical problems.
That's the kind of *practical* pragmatic advice I was looking for. Ohms law is just fine and dandy (duh, there was a short), but the question was how best to *find* that short given all the wires are in the walls.
Anyway, it's solved now, thanks to the combined advice here.
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On Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 3:03:14 PM UTC-5, E. Robinson wrote:

It's a trick for an EE to figure out that you could quickly debug it by switching the wire from an adjacent breaker? I can understand an EE not having knowledge of NEC requirements, etc, but come on, this is very basic stuff.
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On Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 3:38:53 PM UTC-5, trader_4 wrote:

I have a BSEE. I had it before I owned a house. I couldn't spell Romex until I bought a house, realized that I needed more circuits and started learning about home wiring, on my own and with help from this ng, 30+ years ago.
Just because one of the E's stands for "Electrical" it doesn't mean that home wiring, car wiring, boat wiring, etc. is even mentioned, never mind taught. I can't recall one course that would have led to me consider pulling the cover off of the breaker panel, loosening that little screw and pulling out the black wire to test a breaker.
Do you think a person with a Hydraulic Engineering degree automatically knows how to sweat pipe? They learn all about water don't they?
Do you think that a person with Aerospace Engineering degree automatically know hows to fix a jet engine? They learn all about air and space travel, don't they?
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On Thu, 21 Jan 2016 13:00:29 -0800, DerbyDad03 wrote:

Exactly my point!
Here is my Spice circuit simulation book next to the home breaker panel:
https://i.imgur.com/60Qidcn.jpg
Does anyone think this transient analysis will help me debug my wiring?
https://i.imgur.com/qFgZCHe.jpg

Exactly my point.
Here is my book on design of Phase Locked Loops.
https://i.imgur.com/d3sGHHM.jpg
Does anyone think this waveform information will help me debug my panel?
https://i.imgur.com/GnqfSkx.jpg

Exactly my point.
Here is my book on VLSI Engineering next to the panel?
https://i.imgur.com/lTGthZ7.jpg
Does anyone think these pages on doping will help me debug my home wiring?
https://i.imgur.com/PfCVxGA.jpg
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On Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 4:25:08 PM UTC-5, E. Robinson wrote:

Did anyone ever suggest that you needed either of those to debug your very basic home circuit? Ohm's law, an understanding of basic electrical principles is all you need. I was doing that when I was 10.

That apperently is the sad state of education today in America. You learned how to run spice simulations, but now how to solve simple, real world problems using the most basic principles of electricity. They didn't teach you Ohms's law? How a simple circuit works? And applying science to everyday problems is what engineering is all about. Rest of strawman analogies noted and rejected.
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On Thu, 21 Jan 2016 13:40:25 -0800, trader_4 wrote:

Exactly. You learned it wholly *outside* of the college EE environment.
Clearly I know ohms law. Clearly I had a short.
Just as clearly, that short existed even with the light switch to the five-bulb light turned off (I had forgotten to mention that).
So, clearly I had a short *somewhere*. (Or, as people told me, maybe the breaker went bad.)
Even so, Ohms law wasn't my problem. I've done far more complex math (trust me on that).
The problem was merely one of pragmatics. And experience. And knowledge of home wiring. And tricks of the trade.
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On Thu, 21 Jan 2016 21:46:00 -0000 (UTC), "E. Robinson"

Trader has some good answers some times but he loves to argue and he'll never give up, so don't expect his to see your side of this.
The whole question of whether anyone *should* have know is silly, except for a few essentials like people should know not to point a gun at someone if they don't intend to shoot him.
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On Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 4:46:06 PM UTC-5, E. Robinson wrote:

Clearly if your college taught you how to think, how to solve real problems, then you'd be able to apply those to solve your simple problem. Did they only teach you was how to answer test questions about Ohms law and electricity 101?

So a college has to teach you specifically on how to debug a simple house circuit? Not my college. I was taught principles and how to apply those to all kind of problems. Following your logic, unless you had a course that showed you how to approach a simple home circuit, you don't know WTF to do. It's like John Houseman, the actor said in Paper Chase. You come in here with a skull full of mush, you leave thinking like lawyers. Apply that to engineers.
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On Thu, 21 Jan 2016 12:38:43 -0800, trader_4 wrote:

This is the kind of stuff we learn in EE ...
Pic 1: the books
https://i.imgur.com/ucDK1ea.jpg
Pic 2: the circuits
https://i.imgur.com/q9bz2yZ.jpg
Pic 3: the formulas
https://i.imgur.com/v9GHcnT.jpg
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At work two electricians replaced the brushes in a 100 hp motor. There are 4 sets of 3 brushes each. The motor was driven by an electronic speed control. When the motor was started it ran backwards from the direction it was running. It just so hapened that the plant Professional Engineer was called about it and there was 2 other men from outside venders erer that day. They had been looking at it for about 30 minuits and talking it over.
I walked up and asked what was going on. Was told just the brushes were replaced. Thinking it over, the brushes are on a ring that goes around the armature. It is often loosened and rotated to get to the back brushes. I asked if that ring had been turned and was told it had but they put it back. However looking at it , it was put back in the wrong place. Putting it back to the correct place solved the problem.
Doubt that is in very many engineering books.
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On Thu, 21 Jan 2016 18:17:40 -0500, Ralph Mowery wrote:

Trust me, home electrical wiring is not covered in the standard EE curriculum.
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On Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 6:41:58 PM UTC-5, E. Robinson wrote:

And without it being covered, you can't figure out how to apply electricity 101, Ohm's Law, the very basics of electrical engineering that every degreed EE has to know? It's not an issue of how to wire a house. It's the simple issue of how to debug a very basic, very simple circuit right in front of you. As a senior in college, if a prof put that in front of you, you'd throw up your hands and say "Don't know what to do. We didn't have a course in circuit breakers and house circuits"? At my college every freshman could solve it.
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On Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 6:14:26 PM UTC-5, Ralph Mowery wrote:

Never said otherwise.

But that isn't at all what we have here. We have a guy who's an electrical engineer claiming he doesn't know how to debug a simple house circuit, because it wasn't taught in college.
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On 1/20/2016 10:05 PM, E. Robinson wrote:

Truly profound. I mean, like, I can totally relate.
As a couple other folks have mentioned, it's good to have some basic understanding, and then come here for the details. For example, when I asked about adding hot or cold water to my floor model residential humidifier, I got told a lot of things, none of which answered my question. Sigh. Guess I can't win on that one.
You did get some really good answers, including to just pull the breaker out and replace it, they often aren't that expensive. Also swap two black wires, and see if the problem follows the wire or the breaker.
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On Thu, 21 Jan 2016 08:07:38 -0500, Stormin Mormon wrote:

The best answer was to shut the mains off, and then test the circuit breaker. That is a great test, and it showed the problem.
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On Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 3:00:24 PM UTC-5, E. Robinson wrote:

Great!
And thanks for getting back to the group.
One common scenario here: the OP writes in with a problem, the group discu sses back and forth, the OP disappears, the thread dies, the thread is resu rrected 10 years later, the argument continues.
Just a comment: the sooner you are sure what is wrong, the more you find i t impossible to see contrary evidence. Troubleshooting is best with an ope n mind. And don't forget there can be a bad breaker AND a short.
I looked up breaker longevity some time ago and don't remember the exact nu mbers, but they were in this neighborhood. A breaker can be turned on and off something like 30,000 times before it wears out. It can trip on mild o verload maybe 1-3000 times. But a dead short drawing full available curren t will kill it in 1 to 2 times.
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On Thursday, January 21, 2016 at 3:14:03 PM UTC-5, TimR wrote:

...on average.

...on average.

...on average.
You forgot: A breaker could be bad right out of the box or still work after more than 50,000 on-off cycles.
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Some breakers are made to be used as switches and some are not. The ones made to be used for switching could be used in a place where the lights are cut off and on every day. If the incorrect breaker was used, it could wear out very fast.
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On 1/21/2016 3:00 PM, E. Robinson wrote:

Ah, so you had a loose neutral, then? Or was it some other problem?
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On Thu, 21 Jan 2016 15:14:52 -0500, Stormin Mormon wrote:

Here's the somewhat hard to fathom explanation I gave in another post.
On Thu, 21 Jan 2016 05:40:15 -0800, TimR wrote:

That is the kind of a.h.r advice I was looking for!
It worked perfectly!
In fact, your approach worked so perfectly, that it, um, uh, er.... it SOLVED the problem!
Well, not exactly (it couldn't have solved the problem), but this is what happened!
1. The "bad" breaker was in the off position. 2. Unfortunately, I didn't think to test it today (last tested 2 days ago). 3. I went outside and turned the mains off. 4. I went to the breaker panel, and turned the "bad" breaker on. 5. It stayed in the on position! 6. I flipped it back and forth a few times. 7. It stayed in the on position! 8. I left it in the on position. 9. I went outside, and flipped the mains back on. 10. I had expected the "bad" circuit to trip. 11. Huh? It was still in the on position. 12. I flipped it back and forth a few times. 13. It worked perfectly fine. 14. I went upstairs, and turned each affected light on (one by one). 15. They *all* worked (one multi-bulb light had 1 of 5 bulbs burnt out). 16. Maybe that one bulb caused the circuit to blow? Naaah.
I removed the one bad bulb, but, other than that, nothing (that I know of) has changed between now and two days ago (other than the rain stopped, which has been constant here in California the past few weeks).
I don't understand, but, somehow, that ingenious trick showed not only that the circuit breaker was good, but, that the circuit, somehow, is (at least now) also good.
Makes no sense, I agree. But that's the data. I will let you know if it trips again.
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