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Suddenly last night during a terrible rain storm one of my…

Customer Question
Suddenly last night during...

Suddenly last night during a terrible rain storm one of my circuit breakers tripped. I tried several times to reset it and it stays reset for only a matter of minutes before tripping again. i

Contractor's Assistant: How old is the system in question? And have you consulted an electrician yet?

Even with everything unplugged and turned off it still will only reset for less than a minute before tripping again. the home was built in 1998 and I believe the system is the original. is it just a circuit gone bad and just needs replacing?

Contractor's Assistant: Do you plan on doing the work yourself?

Yes

Contractor's Assistant: Anything else we should know to help you best?

I have two circuit boxes one inside the house and one outside for the central air.. I would have to cut the main breakers in both boxes to do the work, correct?

Submitted: 7 months ago.Category: Electrical
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10/3/2017
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago
Kevin
Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 4,296
Experience: 31 years Licensed Electrical Contractor in Illinois, Adjunct College Electrical Instructor, Former Electrical Inspector, Diploma: Digital Electronics, FCC Technician License
Verified

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

1) On the breaker that tripped, what load is it controlling? Lights or receptacles or other?

2) Is the breaker a GFCI breaker that contains a test button or just a standard 120 volt single pole breaker with no test button?

3) The exterior central A/C unit does not have a sub-panel, should only have a disconnect switch either fusible or non-fusible. I doubt if the exterior panel is a sub-panel.

4) Have you temporarily disconnected the hot wire or wires from the breaker? If so, does it reset or still trip?

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
my bank account has been charged $16.00, yet I am receiving a payment method error message to update my payment, which it won't even allow me to do. I cant get beyond this to your response.
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Posted by JustAnswer at customer's request) Hello. I would like to request the following Expert Service(s) from you: Live Phone Call.
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Let me know if you need more information, or send me the service offer(s) so we can proceed.
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

I sent you a proposal for the telephone call. Let me know if you want to talk on the phone or just chat here?

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

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
The breaker is a 15 amp with no GFCI. It controls the lights and receptacles in the master bedroom and living room. I removed the wire to the breaker and the breaker does reset.
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
The breaker is a 15 amp with no GFCI. It controls the lights and receptacles in the master bedroom and living room. I removed the wire to the breaker and the breaker does reset.
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

Thanks for the replies.

1) Do you have a multimeter than can test for continuity?

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
I have one that plugs into a receptacle
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) A continuity tester is a 2 wire lead tester that can check for continuity. Do you have such a tester to check for a short circuit?

2) If your tester is a 3 prong cube tester that contains 3 LED's on it, that tester cannot check for continuity.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
I have also have a tester with 2 leads, a black and a red wire. The meter has 3 ports to plug into. ( max 10A/250V and max 250 mA/250V)
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) Can the meter test for resistance (ohms) or does it have a built-in continuity tester?

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
it is a Klein tools MM100 manual ranging meter. It measures AC/DC, DC current and resistance. Is this what I need?
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
in reading the instructions it does test for continuity. I'm not sure how to use it.
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Ok, I found the continuity setting on the meter.. Am I testing the circuit breaker? Where do I put the two wires? Do I turn the main switch Off?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) OK, you need to kill power to the branch circuit breaker and remove the hot wire from the breaker.

2) Then remove the branch circuit white neutral wire and the bare copper ground wire from the neutral bus bar.

3) Un-plug any loads plugged into receptacles on the circuit.

4) With the 3 wires removed at the panel, set the meter to continuity. Check for continuity from Hot to Neutral, Hot to Ground and Neutral to Ground. Let me know the results if you can confirm continuity on any of these 3 tests.

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Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) You will be checking for continuity from the panel looking downstream. Place the meter leads at the removed wires at the panel.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
how do I determine which white wire on the neutral bus bar goes to that circuit?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) What is the wiring scheme for the branch circuit? NM Romex cable or Metal Clad cable or EMT metal conduit?

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
never mind I realize I have to follow it from the main wire containing the black, white and copper wires, correct?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) If you have a cable system, that is correct. All 3 wires will trace out into the same cable sheath.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
which wire does the red lead have to be on?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) When checking for continuity, doesn't matter. Black or red meter leads can be placed on any wire. Continuity testing with meter is not polarity sensitive.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
ok Got a reading of hot to neutral-11, hot to ground-18 and neutral to ground-18
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) Are you measuring resistance or voltage or checking for continuity? Continuity does not have a measurement, will only provide an audible beep. If the circuit wires are disconnected, you will not measure voltage since the breaker is OFF and the wires are disconnected at the panel.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
the meter is set for continuity. I placed a lead on the hot wire and the other lead on the neutral and got no beep then I did the same for the hot wire and the ground and got no beep and the same for the neutral and ground and got no beep
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

OK, since no beep, then you don't have a short circuit.

1) Next step is to get some 14 or 12 AWG copper wire (maybe 2 or 3 inches in length). Place the jumper wire into the receptacle slots and to the round ground hole and intentionally create a loop via the jumper wire. Then use the continuity and check for an open wire from H to N, H to G and N to G. If a closed loop, you should get continuity.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
I mistakenly had the meter set for diode test. Do you know what I have to set the meter on for continuity test? The instructions only have pictures and it appears to be set on 20M. Is that the correct setting for continuity?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) The meter should contain an audible symbol that looks like a speaker icon for checking continuity. There is no setting for continuity other than the speaker icon symbol.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
the instructions include a speaker symbol on the lcd screen. I tried all the settings and there is no speaker symbol that comes up.
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) Set the meter to the resistance Ohm range and use the Ohm meter as a continuity tester. Same result as the audible continuity.

See below for using an Ohm meter to check for continuity. Set the meter to resistance setting:

Note that while the probes are not touching anything, the multimeter will indicate a reading of infinity. A reading of infinity means that the circuit is open. When you touch the two probes together, the reading changes to zero. A reading of zero indicates that the circuit is closed or complete. A complete circuit is one that can conduct electricity; an open circuit cannot.

OL or 1 or Infinity = open circuit (Open Loop)
0 Ohm’s = short circuit or a closed loop

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
all three tests read .006
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
does .006 count as a zero? Or did I do something wrong again?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) .006 ohm's is close enough to 0 Ohm's. Somewhere on the circuit, there is a short circuit since you are measuring close to 0 ohm's. Thus the reason the breaker is tripping. Yes. .006 ohm's is close enough to a 0 measurement.

2) Open up all the boxes on the circuit and visually check of any wires are touching each other or coming into direct contact with the metal box or metal plaster ring. You have a short circuit that is causing the breaker to trip.

3) You can also isolate the circuit by removing wires on a middle of the run receptacle and check for continuity in either direction.

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Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) A short circuit is caused by one of the following:

A) Hot to neutral coming into direct contact

or

B) Hot to ground coming into direct contact

or

C) Hot coming into direct contact with a metal box or metal plaster ring.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Just to confirm that I am understanding you correctly: I need to go in the master bedroom and living room and check for touching wires in every outlet and light switch, correct? Forget about checking for continuity in either direction because I think that is a little over my head.
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) You need to isolate and open up the middle receptacle and check for continuity looking in both directions...ie ....... upstream and downstream. Somewhere in the circuit, there is a short and needs to be isolated and located.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
what is the middle receptacle and by checking for continuity do you mean check for touching wires and/or perhaps compromised casing causing wires to be exposed?
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) If you have a run of receptacles, 1 will be the home run receptacle and others will be a middle of the run and the last receptacle will be the end of the run.

2) Continuity is performed by isolating the receptacles at the middle of the run by removing the wires and checking for continuity in both directions.

3) Yes, if exposed copper comes into direct contact with other wires or a metal box or a metal plaster ring, this will end up as a short circuit.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
If I open each box and check the wires, up and down, does it matter which one I start and end with? I don't know how to decipher a home run receptacle from a middle of the run or the last.
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

Doesn't matter. Pick a box and isolate the wires and look up and downstream for a short circuit.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
ok. I can do that.
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

OK, let me know what you find. Somewhere in the circuit, there is a short. Once you isolate the circuit by breaking it in half, you can locate and identify the cause of it either upstream or downstream..........ie...... might be a hot to neutral short or a hot to ground short. Once you know the reason of the short by using an Ohm meter or a continuity tester, now you know what to visually look for that is causing the short circuit. Electrical troubleshooting is always a matter of isolation, elimination and a lot of patience.

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Well I can Isolate, eliminate and have plenty of patience. Just need more knowledge of electrician terminology. Using words instead of pictures in the user manuals would be a lot more helpful too. I don't know what's happened. Can people not read anymore? Even our instrument panels in our cars are full of symbols and icons, no words. I personally would prefer the words. I rarely know what the symbols mean.
Electrician: Kevin, Licensed Electrical Contractor replied 7 months ago

1) Not sure what you mean by symbols? I'm explaining to you in simple/plain English and not symbols or icons on how to troubleshoot a short circuit.

2) If you are having issues with instructions on how to use a meter, blame the technical writers from the manufacturer since most of the products are now manufactured in China.

3) A this point in time, I will opt out of your question. I have provided you with all of the necessary tools and methods to locate a short circuit using either an Ohm meter or a continuity tester. Another option is to contact a locally licensed electrician.

Perhaps, I am not doing a good job on my effort. Maybe another expert here can better assist you.

No need to reply back to me, you will be notified via e-mail if another expert picks up your question.

Take care and have a good evening.........Thanks..............Kevin

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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
I wasn't implying that you were not explaining things well to me, I was referring to the user manual for the meter. My intentions were not to insult you. Was just trying to make light of how everything is explained with symbols instead of words. For instance the wiper button in a car has a picture of a windshield. Why can't it just say "wiper"? No instead I am left with trying to figure out what the picture is suppose to be. Please you have been more than patient and informative with me. As you probably figured out by now, I had no knowledge what so ever about what to do at the very beginning of this session. Please don't give up on me now and accept my apology for having offended you. When I opened the switch box in the living that controls the outside porch light, there were droplets of water on the wires. The night the circuit was tripped, there was a terrible rain storm with the wind blowing the rain sideways pouncing against the house. Is it possible that the rain got into the light fixture on the house causing it to short out? Should I take the fixture down and reinstall it, making sure that it is sealed so no water can get in?
Customer reply replied 7 months ago
Also there is no gutter on the front of the house, so the rain can just run off the roof, down the wall and into that fixture if it is not properly sealed.
Electrician: Sam I, Electrician replied 7 months ago
Sam I
Sam I, Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 661
Experience: Maintenance Electrician, Electrical Contractor, Locomotive Electrician
Verified
Hello. It looks like Kevin opted out. Yes you should probably take that outside fixture down and air out that switch box. Take the wires loose from the switch and the connections in the switch box and test continuity at those wires both ways
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Customer reply replied 7 months ago
With the circuit off, I have to check hot to neutral, hot to ground and neutral to ground? Is that correct?
Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 7 months ago
David Bowden
David Bowden, Electrician
Category: Electrical
Satisfied Customers: 854
Experience: Owner at Floridaco
Verified

I​ can help you fairly easy if we can chat over the phone. You will need to request a phone call and we can go from there. The simple answer is you have a short somewhere, possibly caused by the rain as you've described. The breaker is fine it is doing its job, no reason to replace it. If you have some basic tools, screwdrivers, flashlight, and a voltage tester, we can do this together.

Dave

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Electrician: David Bowden, Electrician replied 7 months ago

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Is there any additional information you would like to add that was not mentioned before?

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