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The 20 amp breaker to my garage keeps popping. On that circuit is one outdoor floodlight fixture, one outlet receptacle (with nothing plugged into it), and two light fixtures with 60 watt incandescent bulbs (lights are switched off). I followed the wiring in the garage and found no integrity issues from nails, chipmunks, etc. I took pictures of the wiring in the junction boxes because I can't figure out what the installer was doing. Please help me clean this up and figure out what goes to where and what best way to troubleshoot the circuit breaker popping.

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  • If you can bend out the wires, so to follow better, and label whats going where. – HasH_BrowN Nov 30 '14 at 23:28
  • Ok I'll do that tomorrow. I guess there was a pool on the property art some point. Not sure why there are so many junction boxes tho – Evan Dec 1 '14 at 1:40
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    Is that a switched neutral I see or just an unidentified leg? (Re. more pics; remove all covers, pull-away the outlet and switches) – Mazura Apr 1 '15 at 1:37
  • Try to get a current clamp to measure the current on the circuit right in the breaker box. This will tell you if the breaker is good and you have a short-circuit in the wiring (excessive current flow), or if the breaker is old and weak (expected current flow). – pwrgreg007 Dec 31 '15 at 19:42
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I would say that this is a sign the wiring itself has been damaged internally and is shorting or grounding out, which is what is causing the repetitive trips. I'd check in particular at where the wires enter the floodlight junction box -- the whack to the floodlight could have finished off abrasion-weakened wire insulation and created a short to ground.

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The wiring looks normal.

However, you said "20 amp breaker". The wires look like 14ga, which is 15 amps max.

How powerful is the outdoor floodlight? >1000 watts and it's likely the cause.

Assuming the floodlight is under 1000 watts, does the breaker trip immediately, or after a few minutes? Breakers do get weaker as they age, try replacing the breaker.

  • The floodlight is 150 watt max. I have two 70 watt par38 bulbs in there. The breaker doesn't trip immediately. I haven't made any changes to the circuit at all and it was fine since I moved I the house 2 years ago. – Evan Nov 29 '14 at 19:41
  • Ok...I started troubleshooting and disconnected the floodlights from the circuit and everything works fine. I do remember that 6 months ago when I had a tree taken down a branch hit a gutter and knocked the floodlight, suggesting it a little and knocking a bulb loose. Is it possible some internal damage worsened and created a short? – Evan Nov 29 '14 at 23:02
  • Well... Don't know what now...breaker popped sometime in the last hour. Nothing in the garage was being used. The lights worked fine for the 20 minutes I had them on. – Evan Nov 30 '14 at 0:15

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