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Mike, Master Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 1425
Experience:  Licensed Master Electrician - OnQ Certified Data Voice Audio Video Installer
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I have a breaker with a red TEST button that keeps tripping

Customer Question

I have a breaker with a red TEST button that keeps tripping under certain circumstances. When I turn on a switch for basement lights where I've changed from T12 to T8 ballasts, the breaker trips, but the lights do NOT go off. This breaker is also connected to a bathroom (second floor) GFI outlet which I also changed and it is that outlet that goes dead when the breaker trips.
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) Just curious, how can the basement fluorescent lights still work when the breaker that controls the lights has tripped? You sure the lights reside on the same circuit?

2) Since the main panel has a GFCI breaker, there is no need and it is not advised to have a GFCI receptacle in the bathroom that resides on the same GFCI breaker. GFCI protection is installed either one or the other and not either a GFCI breaker is installed or a GFCI receptacle is installed.

3) Depending upon the age of the home, bathrooms should reside on their own dedicated circuits and not shared with a basement.

4) There is no need for lighting to be GFCI protected.

Customer: replied 1 year ago.
OK. I don't understand this either. There are two switched in the basement for 8 ceiling fixtures. I replaced some T12 with T8 ballasts and after the last one I did, when I turned on the switch, the lights cam on but the TEST breaker tripped. The lights are on a different breaker. I do not know if the word TEST on the red button on the breaker means it's a GFI or not, but it trips every time I turn that group of overhead light on. Ans sometimes is trips when my wife turns on her hair dryer - but not every time.
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Can this be a bad breaker? sue is old enough to be bad - probably 1984
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
also, there was an old GFI breaker in that bathroom so I replaced it with a GFI breaker. What does the TEST button on the breaker do?
Customer: replied 1 year ago.
Ok - didn't help at all, I'm still where I was before this, so no pay because I am not "satisfied"
Expert:  Kevin replied 1 year ago.

I was in process of writing up some possibilities as there are numerous reasons why the GFCI is tripping. Sorry if I can't type that fast:).

Since you are already dissatisfied with my initial questions and industry standard suggestions, I will opt out of the question and place it back to the open board and another expert can assist you.

Expert:  Steven Parent replied 1 year ago.

Hello Joe. Can you upload a photo of your breaker panel? It is most likely a GFCI breaker. If you know exactly everything on that circuit, and nothing needs to be GFCI protected you could eliminate the breaker and leave the GFCI receptacles in the bathroom. Since you changed over t12 lights to t8 there is a bit a re-wiring in the fixture to the ballast. It is possible that the lights are sharing a neutral with the GFCI breaker, and when the lights are switched on, the breaker trips, because the breaker will sense a difference in current on the neutral.