GFI and circuit breaker won't reset

ld14051January 24, 2011

I was running a space heater in the garage to help unfreeze a car and also had my dishwasher running.The circuit breaker tripped and will not go on. I unplugged everything on the line and reset all the GFI's but the one the heater was on will not reset or test. It does nothing. Apparently the dishwasher and the garage outlet, along with all 3 bathrooms are on the same circuit. Is there something we can do at home to remedy this or is it more than a blown GFI?

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Probably the first issue that needs to be resolved is the fact you cannot reset your circuit breaker. When you reset the breaker, does it trip immediately or just fail to latch in the on position? If it fails to latch in the on position, push the handle all the way to the off position and then move the handle to the on position.

If the breaker is tripping immediately when you turn it on, then you have either a short circuit or a ground fault. If this is the case, then you should probably call in an electrician, since the problem is with the house wiring or dishwasher (you said you unplugged everything on this line).

A breaker that is tripping immediately on reset will likely make some sound that will be fairly loud, perhaps a snap or dull boom. If there is no noise when you reset the breaker and the handle goes to the trip position, the breaker is probably defective.

I'm not 100% sure, but some of the newer GFI receptacles cannot be reset if there is no power or if the GFI receptacle has lost the ability to provide protection. This could be why your garage GFI cannot be reset. Another possibility is that it is not tripped at all and you don't have any power because you cannot get the circuit breaker reset.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 3:52PM
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Thanks. It doesn't latch at all. And I understand about the GFI not resetting without power-learn something new every day! About the breaker-is that something my not so handy husband can replace? Shouldn't the dishwasher be on it's own breaker? There are probably 8 empty breaker spots on the panel. We did just have a new dishwasher put in last month. Could a faulty install have contributed to this or probably just too much with the heater and washer going at once?

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 4:24PM
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It might be worth me repeating a step 1d4051 suggested. Make sure you push the circuit breaker all the way off before you turn it on again. When they trip, they will not reset unless you turn them all the way to the off position before resetting them. If it still doesn't reset, my guess is it isn't the breaker but a problem someplace else.

Both my dishwasher and garbage disposal were originally on the same circuit. But as I remember when I remodeled my kitchen a few years ago, the code at that time required a separate circuit for each.

Incorrect electric work can not only be a shock hazard but also a fire hazard, so you really need to know what you are doing if you start doing your own electrical work.

I'm only afraid of two things: electricity and women. Taking my time and using common sense I am now able to safely work with electricity.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 8:18PM
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Ron Natalie

Do you have suggestions on women?

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 7:48AM
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I've seen a couple of times that the linkage inside a circuit breaker failed and made it impossible to reset the breaker. When you move the handle from "off" to "on", there should be a fair amount of resistance to the movement. If the handle just kind of flops around and there is little resistance, the breaker has failed.

    Bookmark   January 30, 2011 at 9:12PM
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