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Circuit breaker popping

Posted by tim45z10 (My Page) on
Sat, Oct 23, 10 at 14:36

I have an unusual problem. Circuit A has a breaker that keeps on popping. On circuit b, c, or d there is a short somewhere and we can feel current coming from a table. Then it pops the breaker on circuit a. It doesn't make sense. Before I start troubleshooting the problem I am looking for some help. Thank you.
Please, please, please do not tell me I don't know what I am doing and to hire a contractor.
I believe in lead, follow or get out of the way.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Circuit breaker popping

if there is a problem, it should be tripping the afci or gfci.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Would you be able to offer any more details so that I may think of some possible problems that may be causing circut a to be tripping, or current to be flowing through the table? Would there be any chance that the table or an object touching the table could be making contact with a receptical? Or that a cord touching the table could have exposed copper wires, and that the line and neutral wires could both be touching the table and cause the circut breaker to trip?


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RE: Circuit breaker popping:(

is the table metal?


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RE: Caution

One bit of advice, more a warning that advice, would be to restrain anyone with heart problens or anyone at all from touching the table, to prevent anyone from getting electricuted and dieing from an overloaded heart, till the problem is found and fixed.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

"I believe in lead, follow or get out of the way"

I suggest getting out of the way- why would you not call an electrician, since you clearly don't even know where to start?


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

I'm puzzled as to why you think there is a short circuit on a circuit other than the one which is tripping. A short circuit is a specific type of fault: an accidental connection between hot and neutral. It should result in an immediate opening of the circuit's overcurrent device (fuse or circuit breaker).

As far as "feel[ing] current coming from a table," please provide further details of where the table is located, what material it is made of, and how it might be associated with the house's electrical system. In my house, tables are wood (a middling insulator), and other than holding electrical appliances they don't have any kind of relationship with the electrical system.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

"I believe in lead, follow or get out of the way"

"I suggest getting out of the way- why would you not call an electrician, since you clearly don't even know where to start?""

Yeah, I love this one.
"I have no idea what I am doing, but I want to try it any way."
This is fine if you are fixing your bathroom sink, but here we have a case of people getting shocked from a table.

We have no details other than "circuits a, b, c & d", and that a table is shocking people and "circuit a" is tripping.
This is like the blind leading the ........< insert your own word here >.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

hey, at least he is asking for help, but he needs to call an electrician.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

I'm trying to imagine a household table that would involve multiple circuits. I could see a toaster on a metal kitchen table but with multiple circuits?

Tim, is by chance a commercial setting?


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

i hope not.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Thank you for the input. This is a metal table. Everybody has to learn somehow. I can absolutely guarantee the problem will not be worse than when I started. Nor will anybody be put in harms way.
I have changed 6 breaker panels that were all permitted and passed by the city. I have wired an entire house, also inspected by the city. There are just some problems that I could use help with.
For you people that can't comprehend the English language no thank you.
It is possible there is a short in the lighting. I will have to trouble shoot further. It just didnt make sense that one circuit would trip when there is an apparent problem in a different circuit. It is possible there are two entirely different problems.
For those who gave me positive input, I thank you.
Tim


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Tim has a history of ignorance on this forum....

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/wiring/msg0422585211665.html

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/wiring/msg082349409019.html

http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/wiring/msg0822480324324.html


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Since it seems like you are going to do this no matter what....

Circuit A - If the breaker is tripping, that means that enough current if flowing through the breaker to trip it. Either you are actually using that current or you aren't. If you are using it (hair dryer or whatever) then your system is just undersized for your usage rates. The only fix to that is to add more circuits on separate breakers. If you aren't using that power, then somewhere along the circuit, the live wire is contacting a conductor - most likely the neutral wire or ground. The first thing to do is unplug everything and see if the problem persists. If it does, then you will need to check the circuit component by component. Start with the outlet closest to the breaker. Disconnect everything past that outlet. If the breaker still trips, then the problem is at that outlet. If not, reconnect the downstream side of that outlet and move to the next. Repeat until you isolate the component that is failing.

Circuit b,c,d - Step 1 is determining what circuit is the problem. Shut them all off. Ground the table to remove the charge. Remove the ground. Then, turn on circuit A. Wait 5 minutes. If no charge to the table, turn off A and turn on B. Wait 5 minutes. Continue until you found what circuit is the issue. Once you have found the circuit, look at what on the table is coming in contact with that circuit.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

There are just not enough details provided.

The only way for an item to became energized is to come into contact with an energized conductor.

If the table is fastened to the structure, start removing the fasteners.
One of them has probably hit a wire.
It is very possible to have hit an piece of NM cable and only made contact with a hot wire.

If there is anything plugged in on the table, start unplugging things.

If the connection is good enough simply connecting the table to a known ground might pull enough current to trip a breaker, but producing faults is not for the faint of heart.

A solid fault can pull current into the many thousands of amps till the breaker opens.

It can take a nice chunk of metal and vaporize it.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

I wouldn't recommend grounding a possibly live item for the reasons Brick mentions. A safer test is to use a small (4w - 40w) incandescent light bulb between the allegedly energized item and ground. If it glows at something close to full brightness, you have a low resistance fault. If it doesn't glow, try a neon light tester (higher impedance).


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

There is only one way a typical homeowner finds out that a table is carrying a charge - touching it. Presumably the OP has done this a couple of times already and didn't vaporize himself. If you turn the breakers off before trying to ground the table, all you are worried about is the remaining static charge on the table itself.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Given the potential hazards from the use of electricity, it is particularly dangerous and cruel for the newly registered (October 12), profoundly electrically ignorant person to be posting on this forum. Keep quiet and read, the ignorance may decline somewhat.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Wow.

Better than a mystery novel...but I really wonder about the messy ending.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

I thank those for the positive input. I find it hard to believe that every electrician knows exactly what the problem is when they got to troubleshoot.
I posted once before about electricity coming from the shower. I figured out that problem, even though I had no idea where to start. There was a time when even the most knowledgeable did not know what they were doing. I have the ability and confidence to give it a try. Whether normal or abnormal.
I cant figure out why people would waste keystrokes slamming others. When they could have spent the same time contributing in a positive manner. Oh wait maybe I do, They have no clue either.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Tim, you really haven't given enough information for anyone to effectively help you troubleshoot the problem. You said it was a metal table but no other information as to how it could potentially be energized.

Right, wrong, or indifferent when you describe problems with less precision and don't use technical terms it causes people to question your skill level. Folks here don't want to put you in harms way because the reality is that electricity can kill; so instead they suggest that you hire a qualified person to troubleshoot the problem.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

I figured out the problem. If anybody wants to know what I did, email me direct and I will tell you. I dont want to share the results with those who were not supportive.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

I'm not sure who's more annoying. Tim or smithy. I wish we could do polls on here. Smithy is immature and inexperienced, but Tim is a whiny a-hole. So hard to decide.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Usually, the best strategy for dealing with people you consider less informative in these kinds of places is pretty much the same as at any other gathering. You ignore them. Don't respond to anything they say (write) and eventually the problem takes care of itself.

In this case any misinformation that might create a hazardous condition should be corrected in a neutral, non-reactionary, informational manner.

Hope this helps.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Sigh, you wouldn't even believe the self control I am already achieving, you should see what I want to write. You are correct of course, but the pressure just keeps building. SERENITY NOW!


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

"Sigh, you wouldn't even believe the self control I am already achieving, you should see what I want to write. You are correct of course, but the pressure just keeps building. "

Nothing a good stiff belt can't help with.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

I have decided to explain how I fixed the problem for all to see. Maybe this will inform people in the future that I have knowledge of electricity.
I turned on the breaker and measured 53 volts from the table to ground.
Breaker off. I traced the wire to a junction box. 4 wires 1 line and 3 load. I disconnected all of the wires. breaker on. No table voltage. So I was reasonably sure the line was not shorting. Reconnect 1 wire at a time and measured voltage after each. When I found the load that was shorting. I traced it out and found 2 lights and one outlet in the next junction box. Again all disconnected and measure again. No short, so I was reasonably sure the next section of wire was not a problem. I reconnected one at a time until there was a short measured. I traced that line and found an outlet. Water had leaked into and rusted out. I changed the outlet and the problem was gone. What was confusing is the path of least resistance was not through the ground bar but through a metal table on a separate circuit. I hope this gives people an idea of my ability, so I wont be chastised in the future. Thank you.
Tim


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

What was confusing is the path of least resistance was not through the ground bar but through a metal table on a separate circuit.

Sounds to me as if you may have some ground problems there. You've cured the symptom, but maybe not the disease.

To avoid future problems, I'd check the grounding in both circuits. Make sure it's continuous all the way back to the main panel.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

I'm puzzled by the phrase "a metal table on a seperate circuit".

Surely we're not talking about a piece of furniture used to hold things up.

Not once have I caught myself labeling a circuit "kitchen table"


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Tables do not normally have electrical connections or plug in.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Some chairs do.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

I'm puzzled by the phrase "a metal table on a seperate circuit".

That's been asked a couple of times and not answered. I think we're talking about a commercial environment, for example, a refrigerated work table in a restaurant.

Perhaps that's why the OP has been so circumspect in describing the problem. He knows that he's likely prohibited from doing electrical work.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Trunk slammer


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

Okay. Well, I've done commercial work I'm "prohibited" from doing.

There, now the subject is breached. tim45z10, wtf kind of table are we talking about?!


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

I don't know if it's the same as what Tim is talking about, but I have a metal table that plugs in.

It's on casters and has a plug strip screwed to the side. It was originally designed to hold small kitchen appliances. These tables were fairly common 30 years ago or so.


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RE: Circuit breaker popping

if the plug strip is 30 yrs old, open it up. kyle's was done using push connectors on the recs. he has to put in new, 15a spec grade recs.


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