I'm hoping someone can point me in the right direction in
troubleshooting this electrical problem. We had an electrician rough in
the electrical for a family room addition and kitchen remodel. The
kitchen lighting consists of six four-inch recessed lights with a max
bulb of 50W on a 15 Amp breaker along with two pendant lights and
undercabinet lighting. The cans are on one single pole switch which I
installed and has been working fine for several weeks. The pendants and
undercabinet lights are yet to be installed. The other night my wife
went to flip the switch and she said it made a popping noise, sparked
and tripped the circuit breaker. When I got home I reset the breaker
and flipped the switch- no sparks but the CB did immediately trip
again. Thinking it might be a bad CB I shut off the 50 Amp breaker in
the main box that supplies the subpanel for the addition and replaced
the 15 amp breaker. I flipped the light switch and again the breaker
tripped. I've tested the switch with a continuity tester and it checks
out OK, even though I put another switch on just to be sure and still
the same thing. I've climbed up into the attic and checked the
connections in the three lights that are accessible and everything
looks good. Unfortunately the other three lights are not accessbile
without cutting into the sheetrock from below. All the romex that I can
see looks fine, no breaks in the insulation. I'm at a loss for what to
check next. The electrician that did the rough in is very busy and
won't be available for at least a couple of weeks. Any suggestions are
It seems like what you have there is a short condition. In this case
since it worked for a time was something moved or disturbed? Are the
undercabinets and pendents roughed in to the same circuit? How were the
feeds terminated? You need to isolate where the short is occurring. If
all the paths to the new work look good including the terminations to
the work to be completed. I would open up the feed to the three cans
you can't access from the attic. this would be done at the last
junction box. Then test the breaker if it holds the problem is in those
3 hidden cans.
BTW often you can access the junction boxes in these, depends on the
A quick update. Following this advice I went around the kitchen and
pulled the bulbs. One bulb looked kind of suspect, just a little brown
at the solder where the metal base meets the glass. I left one bulb in
and flipped the CB on. When I flipped the light switch, no tripping of
the CB and the bulb lit up. I then replaced all the bulbs except the
suspect one and again everything worked without a hitch. Tonight I will
buy a new bulb and see what happens when I put it in the fixture where
the possible problem exists. Thanks for the help.
What does your wife mean by "it?" Ask her where the noise and sparks
came from. I would expect to see some carbon deposits in that area.
Are the pendents and undercabinet lights going to be fed by the same
switch? If so, check the tied off wiring there to see if its tied off
"Then said I, Wisdom [is] better than strength: nevertheless the poor
Were nail plates used? Is it possible a nail was driven into the romex?
Otherwise inspect all exposed wiring to make sure a wire clipping has
not lodged somewhere. WIth the circuit breaker pulled (for safety) you
might try an ohmmeter.
OK. You are in the middle of a remodel, right? What was being done just
prior to the time your wife turned on that switch and discovered the
problem? Could very well be a nail or screw through a wire. Did you use wire
shields on all the exposed penetrations?
Also: Don't take that crap from the electrician. A shorting situation like
this could cause a fire if you keep trying to use the bad circuit. Tell him
to come out now. You might ask him if you called the electrical inspector
would the inspector test it for you. He won't, but you won't get that far.
You can also narrow the search through a process of elimination. You could
disconnect and cap each fixture one at a time, starting with the last in the
chain, or disconnect them all and reconnect them one at a time. If they are
all disconnected and the circuit still shorts: nail through a wire.
I'll find your shorts for $500 per hour, (minimum 8 hours) plus my
air-fare paid in advance, along with a $4000 down payment deposit.
After I remove your shorts, I will expect the rest of the payment in
full. Note, I will not return your shorts at the completion of the
job, so don't ask for them. I always keep them for souvineers.
On 1 Mar 2006 19:42:18 -0800, "dale martin"
HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here.
All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.