The wiring in my garage is on the fritz. A few weeks ago, the breaker that my garage door opener and motion light are connected to tripped. I reset it and the breaker was fine for a few weeks. The breaker tripped again and wouldn't reset. I replaced the breaker (its a QO 20A) thinking it was bad, but it kept tripping. I unplugged my garage door opener, reset the breaker and it still trips. There is nothing else plugged into any other outlets. An electrician friend of mine, who hooked-up all the power, says that I should try the same kind breaker as the one that is hooked up to the lights. My co-workers think it's a short in the wiring. Th

  • Are you saying you replaced the existing breaker with something OTHER than an exact match to what was there before? That is very unwise. Mar 1, 2017 at 22:52
  • It could be a short especially if metal boxes were used. Sometimes with metal boxes when the wiring is crammed into the box the insulation is damaged, in a garage it should be a GFCI breaker and a very small nick in the insulation can cause a GFCI to trip if just a standard breaker there are probably arc marks and possibly damage to the wire itself. It would be a good idea to check each outlet. You could ask your friend to meg the hot and neutral but you already know there is a short someplace.
    – Ed Beal
    Mar 1, 2017 at 23:04
  • 1
    It always boggles my mind when a breaker trips, and people's first instinct is that the breaker must be bad. It never occurs to them, that the breaker might just be doing its job.
    – Tester101
    Mar 2, 2017 at 22:38

1 Answer 1


Both your friends are right.

Your electrician friend is right. Wiring breakers are specifically sized for the load capability of the circuit. If you put a 20A breaker on a 15A capable circuit, then congratulations, you've created a fire hazard! (Circuit can now potentially overload carrying more amps than intended, overheat, and ignite.)

Your co-worker is right. A breaker which trips repeatedly after replacing (wrong match or not) is not a problem with the breaker. There is something wrong with the wiring or something connected to it. Since you have nothing connected to it and it trips, that means your wiring has been damaged - possibly by a rodent of some kind.

Shut the breaker down for now and hire your first friend to troubleshoot it. Electricity is not something to fiddle with if you don't know the rules well enough to avoid accidentally risking burning your garage down. (Hope it isn't attached to the house!)

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