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petalique

Q: Electrical Issue — Circuit breaker going off

29 days ago
last modified: 29 days ago

I am hoping that someone can offer suggestions from experience.

For a few days the circuit breaker that control some of the cellar keeps going out.

The guy who did the wiring 36 or more years ago put the cellar, the living room ceiling fan switch and the 1st floor bathroom outlets on the sa,

me circuit.


I began trying to isolate the issue by removing various items on the circuit, then reintroducing them one by one. Eventually all the appliances were reintroduced. All worked fine. Then, 28 hour later, the breaker went off again.



Comments (40)

  • 29 days ago

    I can't and won't address your marital relationship.

    Every outlet and switch can't have their own circuit. Spreading out connections is typical, though bathroom circuits often have higher amperage capacity (20 instead of the standard 15)) because of heat producing appliances used there. Was something just turned on when the breaker tripped? Like a hair dryer or other high wattage appliance?


    I'd say you've done everything you can and it's time to call an electrician. It could be something cheap and simple (like a breaker needing to be replaced) or more complicated.

    petalique thanked Elmer J Fudd
  • 29 days ago
    last modified: 29 days ago

    Call the electrician. The breaker is going off in a delayed manner after you have loaded the various items that use the electricity. We don't know what is causing that. More importantly we don't know why there is a delay. If the breaker is not working correctly and the circuits overload, that could cause a fire. My vote is that even if it turns out to be something cheap and simple, at least you will be safe when the electrician fixes it.

    petalique thanked lucillle
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  • 29 days ago

    Thanks. We have ruled out the dehumidifier. Well in part. The breaker popped with the Dehumidifier unplugged. But as lucillle and I and perhaps DH wonder, it could be the combined load.

    I n

    m keeping the upstairs ceiling fan OFF. Even though it is a simple well made, well maintained fan only.



  • 29 days ago

    I'd call in an electrician, as already mentioned. Could be something simple or could be something serious going on with the circuitry that isn't immediately obvious. Electricity/circuitry is something you don't want to fool around with, it has the capability to burn the house down.

    petalique thanked mxk3 z5b_MI
  • 29 days ago

    Is it possible there is another outlet, like perhaps one outside, that's also wired to the circuit and causing it to trip?

    petalique thanked Olychick
  • 29 days ago

    Could be an overload situation occurring due to something recently added to that circuit.

    However, breakers go bad. Replacing them is reasonably easy for a competent DIYer. I replaced one recently (18 or 19 yo, Square D brand) that was making a slight buzzing sound and getting warm when I'd run a portable space heater in that bathroom. I didn't kill power to the whole house. Understand what's what, do the steps in proper order and don't touch the wrong thing in the panel (and in your case, hope the panel is wired correctly in the first place).

    Only you can make the decision how to proceed.

    All my 120v branch circuits are 20 amp breakers.

    petalique thanked dadoes
  • 29 days ago

    If you have stuff on the circuit that comes on automatically, then that might be what's causing it to trip. But breakers do go bad. We had to replace one recently. But I don't typically mess with electricity and rely on a professional to figure it out.

    petalique thanked Annie Deighnaugh
  • 29 days ago

    Thanks. We have ruled out the dehumidifier. Well in part. The breaker popped with the Dehumidifier unplugged. But as lucillle and I and perhaps DH wonder, it could be the combined load.

    I’m keeping the upstairs ceiling fan OFF. Even though it is a simple well made, well maintained fan only.

    Not the freezer.

    I am going to remove the breaker and try to by another. I will turn the main or sub- main off first. Maybe a reference book or YouTube.


    Then I will take some Gutter installation workshops so that I can put up an adequate gutter.

    The I will need to replace the rotted wood from the rain water overflowing the gutter and splashing against the house, rotting two holes either side.

  • 29 days ago
    last modified: 29 days ago

    I was gonna say what dadoes said. Having been unsuccessful at isolating the issue, my next stop would be to replace the breaker. I’ve had a few go in my lifetime. Might be a waste of less than ten bucks, or you might save yourself a bunch of money.

    petalique thanked foodonastump
  • 29 days ago

    Electricity/circuitry is something you don't want to fool around with, it has the capability to burn the house down.

    Petalique, are you thinking what I’m thinking? 😉

    petalique thanked foodonastump
  • 29 days ago

    A ceiling fan is a very small load, shoudn't be the cause unless the circuit was already very near maximum load.

    petalique thanked dadoes
  • 29 days ago
    last modified: 29 days ago

    Food, I don’t know what you’re thinking. PS , oh, maybe dark humor? It has its place, my sib and I emgage.


    When I am not in pain or injured, I love fixing things. I grew up around people in a household of resourceful people. Call the plumber electrician, carpenter — that would be the same household that needs the work done. ;)

    DH finally came to the same conclusion as the folks here. Sprint to an electrical shop and buy a new breaker. That one is about 38 yr old. We should get Two, because the upstair batheoom breaker which for some reason shares the outdoor grou ded electrical outlet goes off/trips easily. Two flight down on crunchy knees to the circuit breaker. It has been this way for 35 plus years.

    I am not the only one li ing here. There is a team of two and differing personalities and lately differing brains.🧠

    It is likely the breaker and I am willing to put some cash in that direction. Else, an electrician. I don’t think it is dangerous, but I don’t want to fool around. So, I will do the replacement then let folks know how it goes.

    I have daily substantial pain so cannot do as much as I used to. I keep telling DH we need to move. Any moving will likely eed to come from me with the help of outside assistance. I think he might be failing someone and undergoing some personality alterations. I don’t know that his doctor is hearing me. It is stressful for me.

    Lately there have been some wild crazy house fires picked up by the news. The news rarely gives the cause. Recently there was a huge beautiful house in Concord, MA and the ladders couldn’t reach it as the top floors became fully engulf during the heat wave. The firefighters were suffering in the 97 deg F weather and one went to the hospital. The house was at the end of the town’s water supply, so that was an issue. No one was injured but for the one firefighter.

    I have a healthy respect for fire and fire-related injuries. My dad was a vounteer firefighter and I’ve seen some gruesome injuries.

  • 29 days ago
    last modified: 29 days ago

    "All my 120v branch circuits are 20 amp breakers."

    Hopefully the house was built that way with properly sized wiring, and not because you put 20 amp breakers on what were built to be 15 amp circuits.


    petalique thanked Elmer J Fudd
  • 29 days ago

    PS , oh, maybe dark humor? It has its place, my sib and I emgage.

    Well, not too dark. I meant the house not the hubby.

    petalique thanked foodonastump
  • 29 days ago

    Call in an electrician. I agree it is likely the breaker but............how much is your life worth? Your home? Your stuff?

    petalique thanked Patriciae
  • 29 days ago
    last modified: 29 days ago

    If there’s faulty wiring or a faulty fixture or appliance then the new breaker will trip just like the old one. No one is suggesting trying to get around this.

    petalique thanked foodonastump
  • 28 days ago

    "The guy who did the wiring 36 or more years ago put the cellar, the living room ceiling fan switch and the 1st floor bathroom outlets on the same circuit."

    My guess would also be a failing circuit breaker but does your cellar have a sump pump on the same line? I ask because if your area has suffered from recent flooding rains then the sump pump kicking in may be overloading it?

    petalique thanked vgkg Z-7 Va
  • 28 days ago

    "Electricity/circuitry is something you don't want to fool around with, it has the capability to burn the house down.

    Petalique, are you thinking what I’m thinking?"


    I'm the one who wrote that, and IDK what you're thinking. Was that meant as an insult? Because as someone who bought a house from an incompetent DIY'er who left an electrical sh*tshow buried behind the walls and in the attic and was flat-out told by a licensed master electrician who found said sh*tshow that I am very fortunate the house didn't burn down ---- I stand behind that comment.

    petalique thanked mxk3 z5b_MI
  • 28 days ago
    last modified: 28 days ago

    He didn't mean anything personal about it. I don't know how you could even interpret it that way.

    petalique thanked Eileen
  • 28 days ago

    First of all, heat and humidity can make me lose my mind!!! DH isn’t bothered so much and that’s good.


    I now get Food’s quip. My sis and I (most of our family except my mother) engaged in dark humor. Emergency and hospital related workers (even) pros can indulge.


    mxk3, I took your comment seriously and I sorry that you ended up being the victim of some incompetent DIY homeowner’s wiring and deceit. That must have been nerve wracking and expensive to set right. I know Food was definitely not poking fun at your good comment, but was instead using his wit and dark humor to make another connection. One this is cartoon like, and giggle worthy, but not anything more that dark humor that is funny because it is so untrue and improbable. I enjoy his intellect and wit and kindness.


    So, mxk3, I agree with you — electrical issues are nothing to hack around or not take seriously without the proper information, tools and know how. And no ASSumptions should be made. Even with all of that, there is the possibility of a mistake. One of my father’s acquaintance, decades ago, IIRC, was on an aluminum ladder while working on some overhead wiring and thought he was going to die when some current or leak sent him buzzing. His body was unable to respond but he managed to rescue himself, perhaps by knocking over the ladder. I was only a kid, but this story scared me. As I recall, the man actually owned a Western Electric store. My parents always cautioned us about the damgers electric circuits and wires could pose. They did a lot of their own work rebuilding and maintaining their houses and cottages. And I know a few people hit by lightening, one living to tell me about it.


  • 28 days ago

    "Elmer J Fudd: Hopefully the house was built that way with properly sized wiring, and not because you put 20 amp breakers on what were built to be 15 amp circuits."

    Yikes, you caught me! That's exactly what I did! I changed each of the twenty-one breakers in the panel from 15 amp to 20 amp when I moved into the house! (not)

    Of course it was built that way (2003-4). I know which local electrical contractor did the work. The business dates back to 1955, they're very well-known and trusted.

    petalique thanked dadoes
  • 28 days ago
    last modified: 28 days ago

    Partial update:

    DH has multi- eters, voltmeters and some experience and researches how do fix things from a multitude of sources befor he repair or works on something.

    In the subpanel that holds the circuit breaker that controls the cellar (most of it) are three (3) GFCI ( Ground Fault Circuit Interupt) breakers and among other things, these devices are designed to be hair trigger. And, many of you have noted, and as Bob Villa and the guy at Ask This Old House commented, they wear — moreso if they are exposed to larbe temperature swings. DH is going to replace all three GFCI breakers. First he took a few hours to be sure he knew how to do that because there is also a wire that needs to be unfastened.

    After he told me about the GFCI breakers, I forgave the original electrician for connecting the upstairs bathroom outlet to the same circuit as the outdoor outlet. He must have done this so both would be protected by a GFCI breaker, which is what you want with anything close to water (outdoors or in a bathroom or kitchen sink area). In addition, the plugs in the kitchen and bathroom areas seem to have a redundancy in that those outlets have a (not sure of the name) built-in circuit breaker — little red breaker and reset red button.

    As for why the living room ceiling junction box got wired onto the cellar GFCI — there was probably room on that breaker.

    So, by the afternoon, the new GFCI breakers will be installed — just ahead of a possible T storm.

    You guys have been so helpful — giving me many good suggestions, warnings, caveats and tips. And I was feeling frustrated, so you boosted my spirits as well. Thank you so much!

  • 28 days ago

    We had one flipping out and it was a loose wire inside an outlet. We would of never found it. It took the electricians quite a while to track it down.

    petalique thanked Sherry8aNorthAL
  • 28 days ago

    vgkg, thanks for that idea. No cellar flooding and no sump pump. We do have a dehumidifier and that like the freezer kicks on as needed. The start surge for those appliance could well contribute to the load on the 36 year old GFCI breaker. But even after the chest freezer and dehumidifier and a light and the ceiling fan were removed from that circuit, it still tripped.


    So, we will replace the GFCI breakers, but then remain mindful that there could still be something else going on. There may be an appliance or light that is not right, or some circuitry might be amiss. If it appears there is something unresolved in the circuitry, then we will likely get a licensed electrician.

    Thanks again!

  • 28 days ago

    mxk - Just catching up. No, as mentioned, not an insult in the least. On another thread, Petalique mentioned a strong desire to move but it’s not happening. I was just thinking a fire could help get the ball rolling. And, pun intended, light a fire under her husband’s you know what!

    petalique thanked foodonastump
  • 28 days ago

    Is this a historic home on its old wiring? Something is shorting out, got the wire hot. Please keep us updated on what the electrician ’s findings.

    petalique thanked summersrhythm_z6a
  • 28 days ago

    "mxk - Just catching up. No, as mentioned, not an insult in the least. On another thread, Petalique mentioned a strong desire to move but it’s not happening. I was just thinking a fire could help get the ball rolling. And, pun intended, light a fire under her husband’s you know what! "


    Appreciate the explanation -- I obviously completely took it the wrong way :0/


    I do wonder, though, just for the sake of discussion, that if there was a fire and the wiring was not up to code or the panel was not inspected, things along those lines, if the insurance could deny the claim.

    petalique thanked mxk3 z5b_MI
  • 28 days ago
    last modified: 28 days ago

    Ours is a 1965 house. It was the last outlet on the circuit. They checked and changed the breaker, split the double breaker into two, changed the light switch, and finially found a loose wire in an unused outlet. All on the same breakers After checking all the other outlets.

    petalique thanked Sherry8aNorthAL
  • 28 days ago

    When DH is using the microwave and i turn on my hair dryer it always trips the breaker!

    petalique thanked kathyg_in_mi
  • 28 days ago
    last modified: 28 days ago

    The house was built over a few years by a custom home builder in his spare time. The electric was done by ~ 1984 or ’85. It was done to code by a licensed electrician and his crew and inspected by the municipal code inspector. The wiring is in those ivory colored flat ”Romex” (spelling) cables. I will have to check the writing on the cables and the breakers. DH was going to snap photos but got busy and is now napping. The GFCI breakers cost about $60 each. That is about five lobsters. (Most things get translated into crustacean currency or equivalents.)

  • 28 days ago

    Five lobsters???!!! That's highway robbery!!! They shouldn't be a clam over two!

    petalique thanked lucillle
  • 28 days ago

    Lobster tails here are about $10 for a decent size, you have to shell it out for a good one.

    petalique thanked vgkg Z-7 Va
  • 28 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    🦞They used to regularly be about $5/Lb., fresh live at a family grocery. Then abot four or five years ago, in warm weather, full season, the store began asking something like $9 or $10/Lb.. Over the winter they were $12 to $14/ Lb. They are price per day or at whim, whatever the traffic will bear.

    This past week they have been in the store flyer for a fixed price per pound so that is a sure price for a week, regardless of size. Most grocery stores do no fiddle with sizes or whether the lobster is hard or soft shell.

    A friend is a lobster nut, so we tell one another about food prices. His wife likes lobster, but isn’t so nuts about them that she would buy more than two. DH likes them okay, but finds them too rich, even wo butter. He will cookthem ror me, but draws the line at shelling them out. My friend and I shell them out but do quasi extreme shelling — the body, legs. I eat some of the tomalley (not healthy) if it looks good. I don’t care for the gritty red roe, so the bluejays or opossum get that. I like to dig a 2 ft hole by the grass and leaf pile and bury the shells, putting coffee grounds around the area.

    When I see cooking programs and see the way these folks remove the tail meat from the tail, I am appalled. They cut or crack the curved shell, introducing bits of shell and making a mess. Even Martha Stewart (who should know better). They work against the anatomy and physics. After you separate the tail from the body, turn the tail red side down. Just take a dinner fork, tines down and put the tines a ways and into the cooked meat at underside of the tail. at the end where it had been attached to the body. Firmly and evenly, puuah down and pull out, following the natural curve of the tail; let it work for you. Voilá! Twenty seconds.

  • 27 days ago

    Update:

    New 15 amp GFCI breaker installed and being tested by everything on that circuit turned on.

  • 27 days ago

    Here you are lucky to find froze tails and do not ask the price!

    petalique thanked Sherry8aNorthAL
  • 27 days ago

    Are they southern lobs are The maine type? Alabama— I have to find my map.

  • 27 days ago
    last modified: 27 days ago

    Live obsters were on sale for $8.99/lb or so the past two weeks, but unfortately I wasn’t able to take advantage of that. Sales will be back.

    Sure that’s not as cheap as closer to the source but good enough for me. It's something I love a couple times a season, maybe a few, but I get too much of very quickly. So I don't need it to be cheap.

    Petalique, how are the breakers doing?

    petalique thanked foodonastump
  • 26 days ago

    Working now, thanks.

  • 26 days ago

    I hope your fix was THE fix.

    I did note that you are also having some water issues. (You mention gutter repairs.) Power to my electric cooktop will sometimes short out when we've had driving rain. I think there's some problem with insulation at our electrical box, which is on an outside wall in the basement. AFAIK only this one switch is affected. Breakfast can be delayed couple of times a year awhile DH runs down to the basement to flip this single switch. Two electricians who were here for other work didn't find the problem in the past 23 years.


    petalique -- My DH is 85. I'm noticing some short-term memory loss. Is that the kind of thing you're seeing? Is there a place here for a discussion about that aspect of aging?

    petalique thanked chisue