Tracing Circuit Breaker to Receptacle Outlets

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I'd like to know if there is an easier way to trace which circuit breaker control which outlets.
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Plug a loud radio into the socket. cut off the circuit breaker. The one that shuts the radio is the baby. Now mark it so that you don't have to guess again.
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wrote:

Easier than what? :-)
The two easiest ways I can think of are: (1) Buy a circuit tracer, about $35 at Lowe's or Home Depot. It's a two-part device; one plugs into an outlet and places a radio-frequency signal on the circuit, and the other is used to detect that signal at the breaker box (it beeps when it's over the correct breaker).
(2) Plug a radio into an outlet, and turn it up loud. Go to the breaker panel and start turning off breakers. When the radio goes off, you got the right one.
--
Regards,
Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
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On Sat, 07 Oct 2006 14:34:51 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

How well do tracers work if one of the two wires feeding the outlet is an open connection? Is the fact that two parts to the connection are only a millmeter away enough for it to work.
Also, is there an easy way to know when a GFI outlet or breaker trips, if it did so because of an overload or because of a ground fault?
(After reading everyone else's problems here with dead circuits, I thought I had one myself. By the bathroom sink. I reset the GFI breaker and it didnt' seem to help. I tried other outlets I thought were on the GFI and some worked and some didn't. I reset it again and it worked this time.)

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On Sat, 07 Oct 2006 14:34:51 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@milmac.com (Doug Miller) wrote:

Christmas candles are cheap, and allow you to test multiple outlets at once, in case they're not all the same.
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Buy a replacement lamp plug. Connect a wire across it to make a short circuit. Attach it to a wooden stick. Plug it into an outlet and see which breaker blows.
DK wrote:

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If you think that's funny, you're a sick SOB
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wrote:

Actually, I kind of like the idea.
It is quick and dirty.
My circuit breakers are 22 years old at least and my only worry is that one of them will refuse to 'break' or take too long to break.
Not sure I like the idea of a superheated wire in my walls and attic.
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Insert the shorting plug for only a very short time.
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Which works really well until the one time the 'F'ing thing welds itself to the plug and you can't get it out.
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DK wrote:

think of intentional short as testing your breakers. With a intential short you control the length of the short and its severity...
If you have FPE ask more questions
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DK wrote:

I do that all the time. A short piece of 12 gauge bent where I can put both ends into the outlet. Snaps the breaker immediately with very little sparking. Since I have done this over a hundred times without any problems, I think it may be OK to continue to do it in the future.
I have all the tracers, locators, testers, etc., but that is the fastest and most efficient method of locating the breaker that controls whatever you are trying to work on. Works for lights, too. Just bend the wire where it will touch the center contact and the side of a light socket. Make sure that you turn on the switch.
--
Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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That would be FPE, Federal Pacific, Stab-Loc breakers.
--

Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
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Knew an old fart electrician who kept a piece of 14 gage wire for just this reason. Six inches or so, curved it like a horseshoe. Pounded the two exposed ends flat. He'd shove it into the outlet, adn go see which breaker tripped. It's not funny. And I don't have the courage to try this myself.
--

Christopher A. Young
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The radio is a very good way. An alternate to that would be a long extension cord pluged into a lamp, with the lamp in easy sight.
If you suspect the circuit is one of just a few, turn those off one at a time.
If none of the circuits are marked, then turn exactly half off. If the radio is still on, turn the first half back on and the last half off. Now the radio should be on. Turn half of the "off" breakers back on. Keep testing half of the untested breakers until you find it.
Then reset all your electric clocks.
Randy R. Cox
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wrote:

You may have to identify additional circuits later on. It would save some work to identify all the breakers at one time. Turn one breaker off and go around testing receptacles and lights to see what isn't working. Repeat for the other breakers and keep a record. You still need to reset the clocks afterward.
--
79 days until the winter solstice celebration

Mark Lloyd
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With all the replies, I was wondering if anyone was gonna post the obvious!
A note that may not be obvious too all is to make sure switch controlled outlets are on first and make sure to test both sides of the outlet.
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Randy Cox wrote:

I've used radios and lamps with extension cords and I've also used a vacuum cleaner since they make a lot of noise also.
For those who are punctilious and ambitious and efficient (unlike me), it's probably a good idea to do every outlet and light in the house while you are at it.
If you have a generator and want to go even further, you can determine which leg each breaker is on by measuring the voltage between different outlets. Then you can go to Home Depot and buy a package of different-colored electrical tape and mark each outlet using a color code for always on, always off, on only by itself, etc.

Good idea. That kind of reminds me of the search routines I used to use about 3 lifes ago, in the mid-1970s when I wrote software.

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On 7 Oct 2006 17:15:26 -0700, snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com wrote:

Understanding binary can save you a lot of work (too often people would try one breaker at a time, rather than doing it by halves).
BTW, I've used such a technique with an EMF defector on holiday lights.

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On Sun, 08 Oct 2006 10:49:45 -0500, Mark Lloyd

standing at the panel listening for the radio, you can switch one at a time and find it sooner.
What if the breaker was the first one? How would turning half off save time?
If the breaker is one in the second half then you have already turned off half the panel using both examples.
Understanding common sense can save you a lot to work too.
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