Breaker tripped when I was away for the weekend.
I live in the “basement” apartment of a three family home. I am below street level, but as the house is on a cliff going down to the river, it is not below ground. There is a second basement below it. The house was built in 1905. Bought by current owner in 2004, and renovations on this unit were probably done sometime between 2005 and 2010.
I have lived here for close to three years and have had minimal electrical problems. This summer the utility company has been adding and transferring the electrical wires on the poles in front of the house, as they prepare to provide electric service to a house farther down the cliff, on the river. As they have worked, I have lost power temporarily a few times. They deny that they did any work on the weekend in question.
My question is about a circuit breaker, which had flipped to the “off” position when I returned from a weekend away. The refrigerator was drawing power, and the cable box, but all lights and other appliances were off. The voltage is 240. The 15 Amp breaker resisted being turned back on, it immediately snapped back to the off position again. There was some flashing with an attempt to turn the breaker back on. So far I have not had any believable explanation of how this could have happened.
This one 15 Amp breaker controls four rooms; the bathroom, the living room, one bedroom, and the kitchen. The appliances included the TV, radio, a fan, refrigerator, stove with an electric pilot and overhead lights in the kitchen are on this breaker. Anything not plugged into the wall directly was connected to a safety power strip.
The breaker box is in the unlocked laundry room, which is outside my apartment, and accessible to anyone who walks in there. When all items were unplugged, the breaker could then be turned back on. Plugging all items back in did not trip the circuit, and everything has been fine for two or three weeks now without any indication of a short or overcurrent.
The weekend I was away from Friday afternoon until Sunday at around 10PM. Things in the half-full freezer were defrosted, and I estimate the power was off for at least 12 to 24 hours. My landlord told me that he was at the house and stayed in the apartment below mine the night before. He states that the lower apartment has its own circuit breaker box, totally separate from the one for my apartment.
I am curious to have some ideas on how it could happen that at a time when I was away, and electrical use was low, the circuit tripped. Here are a few points I offer that may or may not play a role in this situation.
- The landlord was in the apartment below that weekend, which is an unusual event.
- Power company has been doing work on the wires and poles both before and after this weekend.
- The neighbor renovating his house and getting electricity has a history of conflict with my landlord.
- Circuit breaker box is inside but easily accessed. It is in the laundry room, which has WD for one other tenant, and breaker boxes for tenants on 2 and 3rd floors. Other tenants denied any electrical problems over the weekend.
- The screws were off on the breaker box, allowing the door and cover to removed, exposing the circuits and the wiring.
- I was away for the whole weekend, and no one was authorized or suspected of entering my apartment.