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Old 07-14-2008, 07:51 PM   #1
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


Newbie dumb questions; hope y'all will have patience with me.

A circuit that controls the outlets in all 3 bathrooms (2 upstairs and 1 down) has been blowing for a long time now. The lights in all the bathrooms are unaffected, but I can't get any plug-ins to work. I trip the switch at the junction box, which provides juice to the outlets for maybe an hour, tops. This has been going on for a couple of years, but the recovery time lately has been decreasing to almost nothing. (before I got a few days' charge before the circuit tripped again. And, no, there was never any clear culprit that tripped the circuit).

This house has other weirdness with the electrical system, but I'll take them one at a time. Could the solution be as simple as replacing something in the circuit box? This is most annoying.

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Old 07-14-2008, 08:01 PM   #2
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


I'm no electrician but that sounds like more than just a spare part going wrong...Get wise on problems like this: hire an electrician before you have a major problem that a fireman might be needed to fix. It's not worth it ignoring such things - this should not happen!

But I'll tell you something that won't make your day either. If an electrician comes in and sees something not to code, it is his responsibility to bring the whole thing up to code and that may mean new wiring and new circuits, new plugs and new breakers. But whatever it takes and whatever it costs, it's cheaper that what could happen if you ignore it for longer.

My 2 cents

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Old 07-14-2008, 08:03 PM   #3
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


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But I'll tell you something that won't make your day either. If an electrician comes in and sees something not to code, it is his responsibility to bring the whole thing up to code and that may mean new wiring and new circuits, new plugs and new breakers.
Absolutely 100% NOT true.

*Edit - at least not in the US.*
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Old 07-14-2008, 08:05 PM   #4
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


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Originally Posted by PeggyV View Post
I trip the switch at the junction box, which provides juice to the outlets for maybe an hour, tops.
What does this mean???

- Do you mean a circuit breaker? If so, does the breaker have a little button on it that says "test"?
- Do you mean a GFI receptacle?
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Old 07-14-2008, 09:36 PM   #5
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


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Originally Posted by Speedy Petey View Post
What does this mean???

- Do you mean a circuit breaker? If so, does the breaker have a little button on it that says "test"?
I assume it's a circuit breaker. I know to flip all the others if some other zone goes off, but with this one, it's the breaker with the RED switch (which looks like a TEST switch), so I don't even have the remember the exact (black) switch.
- Do you mean a GFI receptacle?
GFI receptable??? Apologies, but I don't know what that means.

Thanks to all for the advice. At first I thought it was the over-stove microwave, cuz it causes static with the radio in the living room and I'd never noticed the "shut off" in the bathrooms happening before I got the microwave. But there's really no obvious connection between when the microwave is in use and when the bathroom circuits go out.
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Old 07-14-2008, 10:27 PM   #6
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


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Originally Posted by PeggyV View Post
GFI receptable??? Apologies, but I don't know what that means.

Thanks to all for the advice. At first I thought it was the over-stove microwave, cuz it causes static with the radio in the living room and I'd never noticed the "shut off" in the bathrooms happening before I got the microwave. But there's really no obvious connection between when the microwave is in use and when the bathroom circuits go out.
A Receptacle is an outlet as you like to call them (same here).
And a gfi is a "ground fault interrupter". Basically it protects you from electrical shock, when there is a 6 milliamp imbalance it trips, saving you from the toaster or tv that just fell in the tub. Other things can cause a gfi to trip.
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Old 07-14-2008, 10:31 PM   #7
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


I would suggest an electrician asap...just because the electrician wont be able to fix what will come next if you wait...
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Old 07-14-2008, 10:40 PM   #8
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


Peggy,
I'm not a pro electrician, just an old DIYer, but it sounds to me like your bathroom receptacles (outlets) are all on a GFI circuit as required by code. Your problem could be as simple as just a loose wire in one of the bathroom receptacles. Almost any slightest fault will trip a GFI for your protection, as it is supposed to do.
Based on your knowledge of electricity, I agree that you should call an electrician to correct it for you. It should be very simple, and may be nothing more than a service call fee or maybe replacing a small part such as a receptacle. There probably shouldn't need to be any rewiring, etc., etc.
And have them check all of your other electrical "problems". Electricty should be safe. Period.
Good Luck!
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Old 07-15-2008, 06:05 AM   #9
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


Depending on when your house was built, you may want to check outside receptacles that are fed from the bathroom gfi for an obvious issue. I've had a couple instances where an outdoor receptacle was used to run another receptacle for a pond pump and the pump was shorted; the receptacle full of water; receptacle packed full of mud daubers; feeding a lamp post with a defective photo-cell, etc.
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Old 07-15-2008, 06:24 AM   #10
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


Speedy Petey:

OMG. I hope you're kidding me in telling me that, in the US, an licensed electrician - upon seeing something he is working on NOT up to code - will ignore that fault and continue on with his work, knowing full well it is not up to code, then finish his work, get paid and leave???

You have got to be kidding. I don't really think that would be the case; I have known plenty of electricians who by obligation MUST bring what they are working up to code. How can you possibly defend someone who is asked to replace, say, a GFI plug, who notices that the wiring connecting the plug to the panel, or the breaker on the panel, or something else is substandard, but who only replaces the GFI plug - and walks away?

Who is the supposed 'professional'? What would happen if the day after this electrician left the house, there was a major fire caused by that very same wiring? who'd end up in court in your litigious justice system?

Please tell me I've misunderstood you, or the ethics code of your country, or the electricians union -or something- just don't tell me a professional would sign his name to that type of work.

I am not saying an electrician who comes in to install a ceiling fan has to rewire the whole house - but I would hope that any electrician who goes out on a job, sees something is not to code, would either inform the homeowner of the fact and/or explain why he can not complete the job unless it is brought up to code. Now if that rewiring the whole house, then present that evidence and an estimate for doing it.

Otherwise, professional ethics, including integrity, mean nothing.

I'm all ears, Speedy, to listen to how you defend that position.
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Old 07-15-2008, 09:02 AM   #11
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


I can't find a spec right now on this but I think if a GFI doesn't trip within 10 seconds (at 4 mA) it won't trip at all.

T = (20/I)^(1.43) and I = 20/[T^(0.699)] with T being trip time in seconds and I being leakage current in mA, but the practical limits of I and T are dictated by the GFI circuitry and how fast the GF internal relay armature can move.

A circuit breaker carrying slightly above rated current in a high ambient temp environment might take one hour to trip.
The I^2 x T curve for your particular breaker might tell you what current it would take for the breaker to hold that long (if the manu even specifies or tests for trip times this long).

Last edited by Yoyizit; 07-15-2008 at 09:04 AM.
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:09 AM   #12
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


So in Montreal if an electrician walks in your door and changes a receptacle he can't leave until he's brought the house electrical up to all current electrical code requirements?
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Old 07-15-2008, 11:55 AM   #13
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


No, I don't think so. But if the wiring behind the receptacle was inappropriate, he would have to. I didn't say he had to change the wiring in the whole house.

If on that same circuit this same electrician found paperclips acting as a circuit breaker, he would have to change and charge for that too, wouldn't you think? I'm not saying if he saw an illegal junction box that he'd stop working - but that's what I mean by being a professional. Pure logic, based on the principal that the last person touching it is responsible.

Am I clear now - or is this a foreign concept to you...I mean we have codes and laws up here too that are pretty severe when it comes to safety etc so I would imagine that in the US, you have if not he same, then I'd bet twice the severity given that's it's easier to action down there. Just my observations...
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Old 07-15-2008, 12:12 PM   #14
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


Clarifying yourself helped. There is a difference between up to code and unsafe. As an electrician I am not required to bring everything I may be working on up to code. IF I see something that is unsafe I will bring it to the homeowners attention and fix if authorized.. if not then the installation will stop at that point if it affects what I'm working on.
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Old 07-15-2008, 12:29 PM   #15
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Bathroom circuits tripping repeatedly


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Clarifying yourself helped. There is a difference between up to code and unsafe. As an electrician I am not required to bring everything I may be working on up to code. IF I see something that is unsafe I will bring it to the homeowners attention and fix if authorized.. if not then the installation will stop at that point if it affects what I'm working on.


If you have your wading boots on. . .
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wells_v._Cooper
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Duty_of_care
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Due_diligence


I think a loose connection at the circuit breaker could cause heating that can trip the breaker over a long period of time.

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