0

I hope you can answer my question.

I recently replaced the circuit breaker because it would not reset the power to the outlets thinking it was the problem. I tested with a volt meter and it reads 110 V at the circuit breaker. I got no power to the outlets (all were checked with a volt meter) or the wiring on the back. I went out of town for 2 days and left the breaker in the off position for safety reasons. I returned last night and turned the breaker back on so that I could trouble shot it some more, and the lights came on. Also, we did a load of laundry as the washer machine is also on the same circuit. Don't ask me why, it is a 100 year home with an updated (15 years ago) panel and wiring. My wife this morning put the hair dryer into the new outlet (used the screws and not the plug in the back) and it tripped the breaker again. That was the only thing on the circuit. And she used the hair dryer in out middle bathroom with no troubles. The outlet that my wife used this morning that threw the breaker is the first in the daisy chain of outlets and switches.

I have checked all of the GFCI outlets and they are all good.

I am thinking it is a short in the wire between the first outlet and the breaker box.

Any other thoughts? I appreciate any help!

  • Did the old breaker have a TEST button it? Does the new one? How did you hook up the wires to the breaker? Was anything else plugged into the circuit or turned on when the hair dryer tripped the breaker? – Harper May 28 at 20:13
  • No thoughts but a lot of questions. First you say when you turned the breaker on the lights came on. Then you say your wife tripped the breaker and nothing else was on the circuit. Were all of the lights off? Some hair dryers are up to 2Kw which push the boundaries of a 15A breaker. What size is your circuit? You say the washer is also on that circuit. – Retired Master Electrician May 29 at 0:56
  • Code says that the washer should be on a separate 20A circuit. Code also says bathrooms should have their own 20A circuit. 110V at the panel is awful low it should be reading around 124V. Have you checked all of the connections in the panel including the service conductors? Shorts trip breakers not add to the load. Are you sure all connections are mechanically and electrically secure? Every thing I just wrote applies to an upgrade that is 15 years old. All this being said I would turn my attention to the quality and repair of the upgrade not on any one problem. Good Luck. – Retired Master Electrician May 29 at 0:56
  • Thanks for answering my question. I forgot to mention that it is a 20 Amp breaker. And where we live (rural Mississippi), there really are no codes as far as inspections. So people just do what they want to do. But, after reading some of the post, it seems like I need to add a separate 20 Amp breaker for the outlet. Another question I do have is that the wiring is 8 AWG and wanted to know if I could upgrade the circuit breaker to a 30 Amp one just for the short term until I have time to do the separate circuit breakers. – Jonahtan May 30 at 12:11
1

It sounds like you have several problems but probably not a short in the wiring, as a short would trip the breaker when it was turned on.

When the wiring was updated 15 years ago it was not done to Code. Code at that time required the bathroom to have a dedicated 20 amp circuit (possibly 2 bathrooms on 1 circuit) but nothing else on that branch circuit, the laundry should have also have its own 20amp circuit. This is the start of some of your problems.

The second part is the circuit is overloaded with lights and everything else on the circuit the breaker is doing its job of tripping when overloaded (not a short). The remaining outlets and or lights that are not working are probably because of an overload condition. This happens all the time on outlets and switches that are daisy chained using backstabs, it can also happen at a wire nut or a broken wire at a wire nut or screw.

The failure can almost always be found at the last working device or first non working device on that circuit. I would want to get 2 dedicated circuits installed for the bath and laundry after identifying the last working outlet or switch or first non working one and fixing that.

  • Thanks for answering my question. I forgot to mention that it is a 20 Amp breaker. And where we live (rural Mississippi), there really are no codes as far as inspections. So people just do what they want to do. But, after reading some of the post, it seems like I need to add a separate 20 Amp breaker for the outlet. Another question I do have is that the wiring is 8 AWG and wanted to know if I could upgrade the circuit breaker to a 30 Amp one just for the short term until I have time to do the separate circuit breakers. – Jonahtan May 30 at 12:12
  • No you cannot increase the breaker size because the devices are only rated for 20 amp max, I did look and you are in 1 of only 3 states that do not go by the national electric code. But you really need to stay with a 20 amp breaker the wire can handle much more but I have seen standard 15 amp outlets go up in flames when overloaded, to be specific if the one I am referring to would not have been in a metal box the house would have burned down. As it was there was some fire damage to the wood paneling, this is extremely rare but that was on a 20 amp circuit. 30 amp increases the chance of fire. – Ed Beal May 30 at 13:02
  • Thanks! I have checked each box on the circuit breaker. They all appear to be good. But, I guess I can cut the wires and re-strip each one to make sure they are getting a good connection. Also, I do not use the backstabs after reading reports on them in other places. I will probably hire an electrician to add the 20 amp circuit breaker for the washer. But, why has it worked for 15 years and then just stop working now? My wife has had the same hair dryer for 3 years with no problems. Is the best answer that there is a loose wire somewhere? I really do appreciate the answers! – Jonahtan May 30 at 15:23
  • If there is a loose wire that could be causing the failure but normally the breaker won’t trip it could be 1 wire pulled out of the wire nut, with #8 wire on that circuit it will be pigtailed down to #12 as outlets really can’t take #8. That is a tight box fill, so over time something pulled loose, – Ed Beal May 30 at 18:48

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.