Circuit breaker keeps tripping

anonymouseApril 2, 2011


We live in a newly constructed home for the past 6 years. One of the home's circuit breakers keeps tripping under the following scenarios:

1. Turning lights on/off

2. When an automatic iron that is plugged in turns on

3. When there is a thunderstorm with lightning (we will lose power to that part of the circuit)

The circuit according to what's written on the panel only has master bedroom lights and outlets plus all battery backed up (plastic disc shaped) smoke alarms in the home (about 7 of them). There are no other circuits, because everything else in the home appears to be fine. To my knowledge, smoke alarms do not draw that much current.

Could it be a faulty smoke alarm (drawing excessive amounts of current 7x24) or could it just be a bad circuit breaker?

I have a EE background, and can possibly try swapping out the circuit breaker with an identical one, or should I hire an electrician?

Your thoughts, comments will be gratefully appreciated!

Posting after a while or possibly my first post, lol, after all these years of reading excellent comments here ;) Thank you all.

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It could be faulty equipment, faulty wiring or a faulty breaker.
Temporairily disconnecting the smoke detectors can eliminate them as a cause.
Swapping circuit breaker connections can rule that out.
If you have an arc-fault circuit breaker, a loose connection can cause a trip. I'd check for a tight connection in the breaker panel (hot and neutral).
Loose connections and intermittant short circuits can also be checked for at junction boxes on the citcuit, looking for any evidence of arcing. I'd start at the first junction box on the circuit and work towards the last.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 10:25AM
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Is this a GFI breaker? I've seen similar behavior with overly touchy GFIs.

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 5:23PM
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Thanks! It is indeed an ARC FAULT (Eaton, Type BRAF).

I can't get it to turn on, I should try again, turning it off completely first, and then turning it on.

I thought I did that, now if it does not come on, does that mean that it needs to be replaced (of course, I still have the original cause to figure it out).

    Bookmark   April 3, 2011 at 8:26PM
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It is simply a bad acr-fault. Extremely common from that time frame.
The breakers from that time are NOTORIOUS for nuisance tripping.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 7:05AM
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Ron Natalie

I'm not familiar with the EATON BR line but I can tell you that the earlier GE AFCI's were terrible on nuiscance tripping. I replaced my MOD2 ones with MOD3 (the one with the rocker to test both series and parallel faults) and I've not had a nuisance trip since.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2011 at 8:00AM
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It may also be that you have a neutral-to-ground fault, which will trip an AFCI. If there is, it's probably in an outlet box. Pull the outlets on the circuit and see if you find a ground wire touching the neutral screw of the outlet, or some such.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 12:42PM
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Ron Natalie

You might see if the current type BR arc faults are newer than the one installed. I had tons of nuisance trips with the GE mod2 arc faults that went away when I replaced them with the mod3.

    Bookmark   April 24, 2011 at 1:11PM
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