Turning lights on trips circuit breaker

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The other night I went to turn on the lights at the light switch by my front door and it made some noise and the lights wouldn't come on. Some of the electrical outlets in the neigboring room wouldn't work either. It tripped the circuit breaker so I reset it. I tried again to turn the lights on at the switch and it tripped the circuit breaker again. When it does this, the light switch makes a weird noise.
Does anyone know what might be wrong here? I know the wiring in the house is piggybacked, if that makes a difference. And should there be any problems using the electrical outlets that are somehow connected to the light switch, as long as I leave the lights off? My TV is plugged into one of those outlets, so I want to make sure it doesn't get damaged somehow.
Thanks, Jo
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** There is a short circuit on the load side of that switch. Whatever light, that switch controls, or the wiring leading to it, has a problem. If you want to use other things on that circuit, just tape the switch "off", and there won't be any problem using other things on that circuit. Have the short checked by someone who is experienced in these matters
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So when you say in the "off" postion do you mean so that the lights aren't on or do you mean there is actually an off position? There are actually three switches there for three different lights. Then there is another switch in the hallway for one of those lights. Then there's a switch at the top of the stairs for two of those lights. So depending on how you flip the switches, there is no actual "off" position. So I assume you mean "off" as in the lights aren't on.
How complicated is this problem? Would it be as simple as removing the plate and checking and fixing what's behind it?
Thanks, Jo
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.
FiRST, unplug everything, reset breaker and see if it trips again!
Most shorts are lugged in things so elminate them first!
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.
plugged in things, typo sorry:(
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So when you say in the "off" postion do you mean so that the lights aren't on or do you mean there is actually an off position? There are actually three switches there for three different lights. Then there is another switch in the hallway for one of those lights. Then there's a switch at the top of the stairs for two of those lights. So depending on how you flip the switches, there is no actual "off" position. So I assume you mean "off" as in the lights aren't on.
How complicated is this problem? Would it be as simple as removing the plate and checking and fixing what's behind it?
Thanks, Jo
Whichever switch you touched, that made the breaker trip, leave in the "pre short" position. If there is a corresponding switch, to that one, that operates the same light(s), don't touch that one either. Put tape on them, so noone else touches them as well. The other switches and outlets on that circuit should be fine. No, it's not necessarily going to be a problem at or behind the switch plate. More than likely, it's a problem with one of the lights that the switch operates, especially if it's an outdoor light
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wrote:

Which light pops the breaker - and is it a lamp that is only controlled by one switch??
I say call an electrician or an experienced electrical handyman to check it out - see my previous post.
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On Apr 25, 7:53am, "Stormin Mormon"

in any case unplug everything on that breaker, does the breaker still trip when reset?
then replace all light bulbs or just remove them does the breaker still trip?
if these dont help the OP should call a electrician, better safe than sorry.....
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First UNPLUG everything thats dead with the breaker trpped, and see if the light then comes on.
If the light then works normally plug one item in at a time till the breaker trips again, that item is the one with a problem, its highly possible its the TV
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wrote:

First UNPLUG everything thats dead with the breaker trpped, and see if the light then comes on.
If the light then works normally plug one item in at a time till the breaker trips again, that item is the one with a problem, its highly possible its the TV
First of all Haller, she just said, the breaker tripped when she turned on a light switch. Unless her light switch operates a table lamp, the problem isn't going to be with anything "plugged in". Second, if you did have a short in something plugged in, and followed your advice, by unplugging everything, resetting the breaker, then plugging things back in, you'd get a face full of hot sparks when you tried to plug in the shorted device. No wonder everyone who you've helped with electrical problems, has had fires in their houses, you're a menace
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She earlier mentioned her TV is plugged into that circuit, so its not just lights, she was concerened the breaker tripping might damage her tv... and the most common shorts are small appliances.
I seriously doubt anyone would get a faceful of sparks, plugs are designed to prevent that.....
she could plug each item into a terminal strip and use the strips switch to power on test each plugged in appliance.
please document anyone who has had a home fire from my advice!!!
and to the OP no its not just a matter of removing a cover
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her words.
And should there be any problems using the electrical outlets that are somehow connected to the light switch, as long as I leave the lights off? My TV is plugged into one of those outlets, so I want to make sure it doesn't get damaged somehow.
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wrote:

her words.
And should there be any problems using the electrical outlets that are somehow connected to the light switch, as long as I leave the lights off? My TV is plugged into one of those outlets, so I want to make sure it doesn't get damaged somehow.
OK, let me translate "her words" for you. Other outlets, including the one her TV is plugged into, are on the same circuit as the faulty light switch. She is asking if it is safe to use those outlets, provided she doesn't turn on the "faulty switch"
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That was how I read it too. The switch controls the lights by the front door. Most people don't have the TV on a switch at all, let alone one the same one that controls the lights by the front door.
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wrote:

You english comprehension or your electrical comprehension are lacking.
There are more than oneSUB-CIRCUITS on the breaker. The TV and other stuff are on the same breaker - which IS a circuit, but the TV is not on the switched sub-circuit. (he/she described it as "piggybacked")
The question was, can the REST of the circuit be used safely if the light switch is left off - and the answer is a "qualified" yes.
The "somehow" is the critical verbage - they are connected in that they share the same breaker - but they are not "downstream" of the switch.
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wrote:

Do as stated above. Also, remove the lightbulb in that fixture. It's rare, but can happen that the bulb filament support wires touch each other inside the bulb. If it still trips when you turn on that switch, open the switch box and inspect the switch and wiring inside that box. (with the breaker turned off). Sometimes a switch can come apart or a bare ground wire touched the switch's wire screws. Or there could be a pinched wire inside that box and it will look bare or burned. If that dont fix it, remove the light fixture that the switch controls and look for bare or burnt wires. If the fixture wires are burned, replace the fixture. If the supply wires are burnt inside that box, you may need an electrician. If none of this fixes it, you probably need to call an electrician anyhow, because there's a short in the wiring in the walls, but I'd bet the problem is either in the switch box or fixture. If you have any DIY skills, you can likely fix this, just be sure the breaker is OFF when you open any wiring boxes, and use a flashlight to carefully check for bare or burnt wiring. Remove the lightbulb FIRST. No sense ripping stuff apart because of a shorted bulb, adn if it's a CF bulb, those too can short out.
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wrote:

If the switch makes a noise when turned on and the breaker pops it is NOT anything not controlled by the switch..
I'm ASSuming this is an exterior light?. Wall mounted? Most likely needs replacement - but the wiring needs to be checked as well. If you are handy, turn off the breaker, and remove the light. Check the wiring closely, and with the wires "nutted off" (put wire nuts on the end of each wire to be sure they cannot ptouch anything) see if it pops the breaker again after turning the breaker on and then flipping the switch on.
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On 4/23/2011 5:16 PM, Jo wrote:

Had a similar problem once. Turned out the box was cockeyed in the wall, and they 'englished' the switch to get it as close to vertical as possible. This was a large switch with a dimmer, so clearance was marginal anyway. The screws holding switch to box had worked loose, and the hot screw got close enough to the box to short out and trip breaker. FWIU, this is a common problem when boxes are too deep in wall, and they 'float' the device on the drywall with the mounting ears, or on a stack of washers or twist of wire, instead of using a proper extension ring.
The fact that it happened right when switch was touched, tells me that it is most likely the switch. If it was me, I'd open that up, and since they are so cheap, probably replace it just for giggles, in case it has an internal fault. Of course, if OP has to pay somebody to do that, they should have them check out the entire string, since a 1-hour service call probably cost the same as a 5-minute call.
--
aem sends...

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On 04/23/2011 08:24 PM, aemeijers wrote:

If screw to box clearance is in any way questionable (or if I've used Madison hangers) I always like to wrap the device with a length of electrical tape to prevent just this problem.
nate
--
replace "roosters" with "cox" to reply.
http://members.cox.net/njnagel
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+1
That is a general courtesy to the next guy who has to work on it anyway...
~~ Evan
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