electricity question here...
one of my breakers (20amp) keeps losing electricity, and when I go to check
the circuit box, the breaker isn't tripped.
there isn't a lot of Wattage on this circuit, just a bunch of ceiling
fans/lights and a couple of outlets that aren't being used for anything.
so I have replaced the breaker with a new one but the problem is still
Today when I came home for lunch the circuit went dark, then came on again
before I could even get out to the box to check it again.
All I did was turn one of the ceiling fans up a notch when I got home as it
was hot in the kitchen.
Does this mean that I have a short somewhere and/or bad wiring? If so, is
there a danger of fire? How do I go about resolving this issue?
For now, the circuit is staying off when I'm not at the house.
Thanks in advance for any and all advice,
TB in Austin
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No, if the breaker isn't tripping you don't have a "short".
What you most likely have a loose connection somewhere in that circuit,
start looking for it, starting from the breaker box and go forward along
Since you replaced the breaker it prolly isn't where you reconnected the
hot (black) wire to the output of the breaker, 'cause you likely
tightened that well. But, check the neutral (white) wire for that
circuit where it attaches to the neutral buss bar in the breaker box,
that clamp screw might be loose.
Then, with the breaker OFF start checking every switch and outlet on
that circuit looking for a loose screw or one of those awful "back stab"
connections. Also look for poor connections in any wirenuts you may find
in the device boxes. (I suggest redoing any back stab connections you
find by releasing them and securing the wire ends under the screws or
screwed clamps on the devices.)
Betcha you'll find your problem that way.
And yes, there is a possibility that a loose connection could change
into one which could heat up enough to cause something to ignite. Not a
very big possibility, but not worth taking chances with.
Follow Jeff's instructions, they are correct. Additionally, plug lamps
or work lights or radios into the 'unused' outlets. Do the outlets stay
on when the lights brown out? This will help pinpoint where your
likely loose connection is. The loose connection will be at or after
the last 'working' AC load. Remember that the loose connection
may be at a light switch, also.
If it was a short circuit, the breaker would trip. Sounds like a bad wiring
(open circuit) somewhere in the circuit. And yes it is a fire hazzard.
First, identify every outlets and lights on that circuit. This can be done
by turning off the breaker and see which lights/outlets that normally work
has stopped working.
Then when the power goes out by itself, observe which one of those outlets
and lights lose power. This gives you a clue of where the bad wiring is. If
all the outlets and lights on this circuit lose power, then the bad wiring
is either at the panel or at the first outlet/light of this circuit. If the
first outlet has power but the second one doesn't, then the problem is in
one of these two junction boxes, etc.
You should be able to find the bad wiring by opening at most two junction
boxes (and wiggling the wires inside).
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