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Category: Electrical
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Experience:  30 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
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# We have a breaker which keep tripping. it covers an area of

### Customer Question

We have a breaker which keep tripping. it covers an area of our home which has a number of appliances and computers. it trips every few days. my assumption is that this is an overload although we cannot find anything in common about the circumstances in which it is occurring. how would i determine if this is overload, short circuit or group fault
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Electrical
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Hello and welcome to Just Answer. My name is ***** ***** I will be happy to assist you with your electrical question.

1) Is the breaker a single pole 120 volt type?

2) Does the breaker control any exterior loads?

3) Have you tired to "roll" the circuit to another known working breaker of the same amperage within the electrical panel to see if the trouble follows or goes away?

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
1. Yes single 120 2 no exterior load 3 no
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Also it rarely occurs more than once in a day and at times only weekly
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

Thanks for the replies.

1) I recommend to "roll" the circuit onto another known working breaker of the same amps and see if the trouble follows or goes away. If the trouble follows and trips that breaker, then either a problem within the branch circuit or overloads or a problem with the connected loads. If the problem goes away, then most likely the original breaker is faulty.

2) In order to confirm if the breaker is tripping due to an overload, you will need to total up all of the load wattages that are connected to the breaker. Once the total load wattage is determined, then you can apply Watts Law and calculate the circuit amperage using the following calculation:

P = I x E, where P = watts, I = amps and E = volts.

Solve for I-----------> I= P/E--------> Total Watts divided by 120

3) Once the calculated wattage is known, turn all of the loads connected to the circuit in the ON position and then use a clamp-on amp meter at the hot wire on the breaker to confirm the "Full Load" amps on the circuit. The clamp-on amp meter will measure the load amperage under full load and this can be compared if the full load is close to or slightly over the circuit breaker rated amperage. This will confirm if the problem is caused by an overload.

4) If a short circuit or a ground fault, typically a breaker will trip instantaneously and not just occasionally. However, there may be an internal issue with one of the connected loads causing a short circuit or a ground fault. This will be a little difficult to confirm as you would need to isolate the loads on the circuit by either disconnecting them one at a time or connect the loads one at a time to another known working circuit and see if the trouble follows or goes away.

5) Another option is to temporarily disconnect the hot wire at the subject breaker and disconnect the white neutral wire from the neutral bus bar and disconnect any bare copper or green ground wire for the circuit at the panel ground bar and check for continuity looking from the panel downstream to all of the connected outlets. This will confirm if any short or ground faults exist when the circuit is under a "no load" condition and all loads are temporarily disconnected.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks..............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks.............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks...............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks...............Kevin:)

Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

If you have any additional questions, just let me know and I’ll be glad to answer them for you.

Otherwise, don’t forget to rate me before you log Off.

Thanks............Kevin:)