Finding a breaker

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I have to locate a breaker for an outlet, maybe two if they are are separate breakers. I know where the panel(s) are, but not which breaker controls the outlet. I can't shut off the breakers until I find it since there is other equipment that I don't want to shut down.
What am I risking by "shorting" out the outlet and having it trip the breaker so I can find it?
If the risk is low, what's the best way to short it out? I was thining of a plug where I stripped the two wires, tied them together and taped the end. Anything better?
--
cahrles

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Charles Bishop wrote:

The best way to find this is with one of the electronic tracker setups, or a pulsating load (light with a flasher) and a clamp on amp probe.
The shorting method will work (I've done it in a pinch) but it's not pretty. The safest way would be to wire a switch in a proper electrical box to a short cord with a plug. This protects you and the outlet from the arc and lets you use an old junk switch if you have one to take the abuse.
Circuit breakers can have their trip points drift (generally lower) with repeated trips so you don't want to do it more than once if you can help it.
Pete C.
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I tried to post this to earlier but it hasn't shown up yet so I thought I made an error so I'm trying again-sorry for a 2nd post if the first shows up after all.
I need to find the circuit breaker for two outlets (2 breakers if the two outlets are on different ones). I know where the box is ( I think) but not which breaker is it.
What are the risks if I short out the outlet to find the breaker? Reasonable risks, not "blowing up the city" risks.
What would be the best way to do this? I'm not going to hold a paperclip and stick it in both slots. I was thinking of a plug and cord with the two wires connected together and taped, but is there a better way?
--


charles

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Charles Bishop writes:

Don't. You risk worldwide, permanently archived ridicule from Usenet.
Whyn't you just use the flip-until-wife-yells method?
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Guess you missed the part where he said he didn't want to do that because of other equipment he doesn't want to shut down...
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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As with just about every one else here shorting is always a bad idea. just go to your local home center and buy a circut breaker finder use it and return it when your done i think they are around $30
(see link)http://www.hitechhub.com/index.asp?PageAction=VIEWPROD&ProdID=4&HS=1 here is one example.
Breakers can be hard to find and expensive Depending on your pannel so dont take a chance
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Re: Finding a breaker:

Here's another example
http://www.homedepot.com/prel80/HDUS/EN_US/diy_main/pg_diy.jsp?BV_SessionID=@@@@1458247833.1147199303@@@@&BV_EngineIDcdaddhkejhifhcgelceffdfgidglm.0&CNTTYPE=PROD_META&N)84+3034&keyword=circuit&MID76&CNTKEY=misc%2fsearchResults.jsp&y=0&x=0
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To email me directly, remove CLUTTER.

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How do these things work?
Do you plug one unit (A) into an outlet and take the other (B) to the panel to see which breaker is powering A?
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A transmitter module plugs into an outlet and the second "sniffer" module sounds a tone when you pass it over the correct breaker at the panel. They are useful but not perfect. I've gotten strong signals from adjacent breakers.
-- Bobby G.

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It's jerks like you that drive up prices for the rest of us. Didn't Mommy ever teach you that it's wrong to steal?
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Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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Doug I knew someone would have an issue with it. And yes it is a "BAD Practice, buy use return" - $30 is a cheap price to pay and they are good to have around - I am a tool junkie. If this could keep the situation safe-then it is a lesser of two evils for me.
Jeff Aikens
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Charles Bishop wrote:

I would avoid shorting it out. If everything is working right, it will be OK, it is also possible that you may find a weak link in the system. Stop by the the tool store and get a tool to hunt it down. Note: even after you have identified it, double check that after turning off that circuit that both outlets are now dead, as you wisely indicated, they may not be on the same circuit.
--
Joseph Meehan

Dia duit
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Have you checked to see if the panel(s) are labeled? How do you know that the circuit that you want to trip is not also powering the other equipment that you want to keep on?

Maybe damaging a breaker? Doesn't happen real often but is a possibility. I have had to replace breakers for people after a short or miswire. After finding and correcting the fault, the breaker would not reset and had to be replaced.
Sometimes the main will also trip on a dead short.
Kevin

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CB asked: What am I risking by "shorting" out the outlet and having it trip the breaker so I can find it?
Ray replied: Burned fingers Electrocution Fire Melted insulation that will short later Damage to other appliances on that circuit Damaged breaker
Probably none of these things will happen but if you really insist on doing this it would probably be *slightly* safer to strip the ends of an old plug and touch them together briefly while holding the ends with rubber handled pliers. If you plug in something hard-wired to short and the breaker doesn't trip, now you have to pull it out before the fire starts.
CB also said: ...can't shut off the breakers until I find it since there is other equipment that I don't want to shut down.
Ray asked: What happens when the power goes out? You have about a 50/50 chance of shutting off the outlet before the 'other equipment'. I'd take those odds over intentionaly shorting an outlet...
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He says as molten metal sprays his face and hands
I find a toaster oven and microwave oven running at the same time is a relaible and safe way to trip a breaker (typical 20A)
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Depending on the quality of the short, and the trip rating of all the breakers in the path, it is possible for a bolted fault on a branch circuit to trip the main breaker. I have seen it happen, with a 20a 240v circuit (wired as a dead short between two phases*), that tripped a 400a main breaker with no hesitation. In this case, the 20a breaker was closed into the short, and the main tripped in the blink of an eye.
(* when wiring a 240 volt outlet, you DO NOT attach both phases to one terminal, and the neutral to another. The stage carpenter didn't know this.. needless to say, he does now..)
--
-- Welcome My Son, Welcome To The Machine --
Bob Vaughan | techie @ tantivy.net |
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(Bob Vaughan) wrote:

I chickened out and bought a breaker locator. $35, I think. It wasn't the best tool but it helped. I plugged a "sender" unit into the outlet, then took the "finder" unit down to the panel box. Turn on the finder and run the nose along the breakers in the panel until it beeps. Well, it beeps on all breakers right away, so I turn the adjustment wheel until it stops beeping on one breaker then go to the next. Continue doing this (adjusting the sensitivity) until just one breaker makes it beep.
Unfortunately, the wrong breaker can make it beep depending on how the wiring is run. While I didn't have to turn off all the breakers, I ended up turning off about 1/4 of them before I found the correct one.
For the second outlet I was looking at, I got beeps on some main panel breakers when the actual breaker was in a sub-panel. I understand that the more expensive models eliminate some of the false positives, but I think the price of those are $150. If I did this more often, it would be worth it, but since I only have to do so infrequently, I'll stick with the radio, or my new gizmo.
[snip footnote]
--
charles

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I too bought one...and while they are OK...as you state they're not perfect. One small accessory you might want to consider is the adaper that screws into a light socket and has a plug in on the surface. That way you can use the sender in a light fixture if needed...saved me while trying to work on an outside light once...and for a few cents...worth having around.
DAC
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DAC wrote:

The pulsating load and clamp on amp probe method eliminates nearly all false detections. You will pick it up on a breaker feeding a sub panel, but it should be pretty obvious that a 60A+ breaker probably (hopefully) isn't feeding an outlet directly. Find the sub panel and you can easily isolate the circuit from there.
Pete C.
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How about using a momentary contact pushbutton switch?

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Mark Lloyd
http://notstupid.laughingsquid.com
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