Breaker tripping

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by rayh78, Jul 12, 2013.

  1. rayh78

    rayh78 New Member

    Messages:
    78
    Location:
    Virginia
    Have a rental property. Tenants complained about a breaker tripping once or twice a day.
    Breaker feeds living room and ceiling light.
    When this happens the light is not on and only two outlets in use. Floor fan and then TV and stereo.
    Anyway I went over and replaced the breaker and both outlets since I had them out to inspect for any burnt wires.
    But everything really looked fine. Did I miss anything?
    If it happens again can I assume it is a problem with their newer flat screen TV, the stereo or fan?
    Any suggestions on anything else I could have checked?

    Thanks
  2. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,157
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    If they have a Surge Protecting Power strip, It could be bad.

    They are made to Short Out to protect, and sometimes they may not blow their own breaker like they should.

    A Voltage Measurement would tell if you have low voltage.


    Good luck.
  3. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,019
    Location:
    New England
    It would take a really humongous TV and stereo system to overload a typical 15A breaker...it's unlikely that's the problem.
  4. ActionDave

    ActionDave Electrician

    Messages:
    346
    Location:
    Colorado
    Can't really tell what the problem is based on what you said but I agree with Jim, you should easily be able to run all the stuff you mentioned on a 15A circuit.

    The chance that it is a bad breaker is the least likely unless it is an AFCI breaker.
  5. rayh78

    rayh78 New Member

    Messages:
    78
    Location:
    Virginia
    Normal 20 amp breaker.
    Know if everything is working ok their stuff should not overload.
    But what else could it be. How to troubleshoot?
  6. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,157
    Location:
    Houston, TX

    There may be more outlets wired to that breaker than you think.

    What you say is on a 20 amp breaker should not come close to tripping it.

    If you have a shorted MOV in a Device Protector it could draw more current than normal, but it would trip the breaker all of the time.


    Is your voltage correct ?
  7. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    996
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    If you are doing work like this you obviously have an amprobe. What is the actual load? Not that it is close to overloading, but it is a place to start.
  8. rayh78

    rayh78 New Member

    Messages:
    78
    Location:
    Virginia
    reading 121 volts
  9. Speedy Petey

    Speedy Petey Licensed Electrical Contractor

    Messages:
    996
    Location:
    NY State, USA
    The main purpose of an amprobe is to read amps.
  10. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,157
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Is that the reading at the Breaker or at the Load ?

    Measuring at both ends will give you the voltage drop from the load to the source. That can test for a loose connection.

    As mentioned a Amp Probe would be handy.

    Everyone should own a clamp on, If they are going to play with electricity.

    Don't forget the PPE.

    Is the breaker still tripping ?


    Be careful playing with electricity.
  11. rayh78

    rayh78 New Member

    Messages:
    78
    Location:
    Virginia
    Busy on another project until I get back over there next week. But the 121 volts was at the outlet. And do have a clamp on my Fluke meter, just did not think to check at the time. Was not tripping often.
  12. DonL

    DonL Jack of all trades Master of one

    Messages:
    4,157
    Location:
    Houston, TX
    Would there happen to be a window air conditioner in use ?
  13. rayh78

    rayh78 New Member

    Messages:
    78
    Location:
    Virginia
    No ac. Nothing else I could tell on that circuit. Just a ceiling light not used when breaker tripped. And a small floor fan, TV, cable tv box and small stero.
    Dealing with a few other things. Will try to follow up and get over there to check the amp draw. And maybe take out a few more outlets to look for any burnt wires in boxes for lack of anything else to check. They did have one outlet that had recently been used for their computer, but said all of that was unplugged when this started.
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