Came home tonight and found my hall light didn't work when I flipped the switch. Went to the panel and found the breaker had tripped.
The only things on this circuit that I know of, based on what stopped working, are: - hallway light - closet light - half bath lights and fan
All of these things were working this morning. I know because I used all of them. All of them were also turned off before I left. Normally, when, I've seen a breaker tripped, there's something obvious like a hair dryer, space heater, or a short or ground fault. This one is so odd because it seems to have tripped while nothing was drawing current.
I have two theories:
- The breaker is old and beginning to fail. I've read they can start to trip at random as they wear out. This house is over 100 years old. The electrical is definitely newer than that, but I am not sure how old it is. I suspect maybe sometime in the 90s at the earliest from looking at the panel labelling.
- One of the switches for the listed lights shorted when I turned it off. If it was the last thing turned off, no one would have noticed anything. In this case, I suspect the closet light, as it's a pull-chain type fixture that doesn't seem well mounted. Maybe the wire shorted against the box?
So, here is my biggest question: can a failing breaker trip when there is no current drawn? That is, when everything on the circuit is off? If the answer is no, the problem is definitely a short or ground fault somewhere. If it can, I suppose I can replace the breaker.
I welcome the experts' advice. For the time being, I've left the breaker on the OFF position for safety.