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Jason, Service Technician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4284
Experience:  Over 20 years of experience in all types of installations, troubleshooting, and repairs.
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While hammering a nail into the wall the circuit breaker tripped

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While hammering a nail into the wall the circuit breaker tripped in that part of my apartment only. I am concerned I nicked the wire with the nail. There was no smoke, no odd smells and the nail wasn't damaged at all. Still, I'm worried about a damaged wire and risk of fire

Jason :

Hello. Welcome to Just Answer.

Jason :

Have you already tried resetting the circuit breaker?

Jason :

Was the nail in a wall stud?

Customer: Yes, reset the circuit breaker; nail was not in a stud
Customer: Everything seems fine but I am worried about the potential safety hazard of a nicked wire
Jason :

If the nail has no arc marks on it, and the breaker held when you reset it, I don't think you have anything to worry about.

Jason :

It could have been the vibration, causing a connection to make and break quickly in a box. That arcing can trip a breaker.

Customer: Oh! Ok! What would have caused the ciruit to blow though?
Jason :

If there were outlets on that wall with items plugged in to them, you may have been causing some arcing with the pounding of the hammer.

Customer: Sorry, just read your full answer. Thanks!
Jason :

Arcing at an outlet can cause a breaker to trip.

Customer: Ah! I was totally hammering above an outlet that I had a lamp plugged into
Jason :

That may have been the cause. Hard to say without seeing it happen. But I wouldn't sweat it too much.

Jason :

If the wire were damaged significantly, there are two possibilities as to what would have happened when you reset the breaker...

Jason :

It wouldn't hold, and would continuously trip, OR

Jason :

The circuit fed by that breaker would be partially or completely out, even with the breaker on.

Jason :

I doubt you damaged it at all, unless the nail was pretty long.

Jason :

The wire isn't typically close to the back side of the drywall you put hanging nails in.

Customer: Yeah, once I turned the circuit back on everything functioned fine, just like normal. All this happened like 5 hrs ago too
Jason :

In that case, I would not have trouble sleeping tonight.

Customer: LOL! Thanks! That is very helpful to hear
Jason :

Happy to help. Is there anything else I can do for you?

Jason and other Electrical Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 4 years ago.
FYI - just talked to the maintenance guys at my apartment building and they told me that no wires run as high as where I was hanging my photo . (I guess this explains why there are no ceiling lights installed in that room!) . Thanks so much for all of your help!
Hi Jennifer. I'm glad to hear that. So you got double peace of mind. Sounds like you are all set. I appreciate the opportunity to help, and hope you will consider requesting me for future electrical and home improvement questions. Thanks again for the positive rating and feedback!

Have a great Sunday!