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There is a circuit breaker that has been sporadically tripping for my living room at night, after everything is shut down. What could be causing the issue?

The breaker is marked with a 15 on the switch. In the picture, it is the breaker in the middle. This has happened about ten times over the course of the last two months, generally 5 to 10 minutes after everything is shut down.

I have read other questions that involved a "loose" switch, this does not seem to be the case. It requires about the normal amount of pressure to flip the breaker switch.

On this circuit there is a 40" lcd tv, Playstation 4, 3 Sonos speakers(1 playbar, 2 ones), a lamp, and a small space heater that get used. There are also 4 track lights that are very rarely turned on. I believe, but I'm not positive that this problem started before we got the space heater out. By shutting everything down I mean that we turn off the lamp, tv, and space heater, and the speakers and playstation go into stand-by mode.

The breaker has only flipped while everything was in use once while I've lived here, at that point in time a vacuum was added to the load. The ongoing sporadic issue had already begun when this happened.

Any idea what could be causing this issue? Is this a cause for concern (do I need to get my landlord out here)?

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  • Does it happen at a certain time of day (e.g. when a time clock comes on), or always x minutes after something gets switched off? – Someone Somewhere Feb 2 '18 at 17:09
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    Bless you for posting a picture of the actual breaker. It quells any question of GFCI/AFCI, the usual culprit in cases like this (GFCI/AFCI are awesome, just they can confuse.) – Harper Feb 2 '18 at 17:10
  • @SomeoneSomewhere So far every time it's happend is when we go to bed. For example last night we turned everything off, had time to get in bed and comfortable, and then SNAP, you hear the breaker flip. There isn't a clock or timer on the circuit. – rogerdeuce Feb 2 '18 at 17:11
  • But you go to bed at different times each night, so it trips at different times? – Someone Somewhere Feb 2 '18 at 17:12
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    do your "going to bed" sequence at lunchtime, see what happens. – jsotola Feb 2 '18 at 17:57
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Strange that it happens with things turned off, I haven't heard of a PlayStation causing this when sleep mode but since that is the only thing still active I would try connecting it to another branch circuit via an extension cord and see if the problem moves, if still tripping try the TV next , and the sound system after that. The lights can't be the problem because there is no power when the switch is turned off. I never suggest running a space heater on a extension cord unless it is a heavy 12 gauge cord but try plugging it in on a different circuit also I would think if the heater was the problem the breaker would trip when other items were turned on.

  • as @Ed Beal says, also try unplugging everything from that outlet/circuit, and just use the space heater on it. Turn it up to your usual temp, then turn it back down to the "night temp." No trip, add another device in and continue until you find the load limit of when it decides to trip. Your TV actually goes into a stand-by mode also, even if you "turn it off" unless you unplug it. I would say all of your items are in a stand-by unless you unplug them from the outlets. You could be overloading the circuit with the space heater. What is the space heater specs? – Jeff Cates Feb 2 '18 at 19:48
  • @JeffCates it's 120v 12.5 amp space heater, but to make sure we're on the same page, every time this has happened the heater has been flipped off as well, not set to low. The discussion above about the thermostat is regarding the Hvac unit which has two breakers of it's own. – rogerdeuce Feb 2 '18 at 20:18
  • I know you stated that this happened before the space heater, however, try unplugging the space heater and see how often it still trips. It could be the breaker is failing, but these tips would let you know what device is causing the issue or if it is the breaker. – Jeff Cates Feb 2 '18 at 20:20
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    Also, I know that some newer space heaters have a "Freeze Protection" feature, could be that the space heater is turn itself on and causing a line spike. Just try the tips and see what happens. Doesn't cost anything but time! – Jeff Cates Feb 2 '18 at 20:22
  • we ended up moving the space heater to a different circuit and haven't experienced the issue since then. I don't believe the room has gotten cool enough to kick in a freeze protection, so I'm still confused about it tripping after everything is shut down. – rogerdeuce Feb 14 '18 at 20:24

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