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Weekend Warrior DIY 12-11-2007 08:56 AM

Breaker keeps tripping... why?
 
I have a 20 amp breaker (Push-O-Matic) that runs the bathroom light and an outlet in the bedroom. My girlfriend is always cold so we have a portable electric baseboard heater that we use from time to time. It's probably only about 4 years old. Anyway when it's put on high, she doesn't understand that there's a low function LOL, it always trips the breaker. Now this is a new thing as we have run the heater before without issue. I had the outlet put in by a professional electrician when we first moved into the house.

Do you think it's a bad breaker? Could the outlet not be up to par? It's a new outlet but most likely it's a 15 amp outlet.

My only other thought is that the switch on the heater is a little funny, if you don't put it in the right position the heater isn't on, kinda like a worn out switch. Now my thought is that this switch shorts out the heater and then trips the breaker.

Thanks for your help.

Sammy 12-11-2007 09:10 AM

Do you know what the power draw in amps is when the heater is in high mode?

Anything else on that circuit that could contribute to the breaker tripping?

Do you have another 20 amp circuit other than the bath that you can test the heater on to see if it trips the breaker there also?

Weekend Warrior DIY 12-11-2007 09:41 AM

The only thing that was on the circut is a small lamp.

I've used that heater all last winter on another outlet in the room, currently re-wired and not hooked up, and never had a problem.

I don't know what the amperage on the heater is on high mode BUT it's def. not 20 amps. I ran a drum sander all last night on a 20 amp circut with other things running and it never had a problem. I'm thinking it's the breaker. Old house, older electric system so who knows. Is there anyway to test a breaker?

Sammy 12-11-2007 10:10 AM

Could possibly test the breaker with an amp meter and the heater on would tell you the draw. Then if the breaker trips and its well below 20 amps it would point to a bad breaker.

Any other 20 amps in the box you could swap to test?

NateHanson 12-11-2007 02:18 PM

I'd say the first step is to plug the heater into another outlet, and see if it trips the breaker. If the plate on the heater says less than 1800 watts, it shouldn't trip out a 15A or 20A breaker. If it is doing that, then I'd say the heater is bad. If you put it on another circuit and it doesn't trip, then there's something wrong with the bathroom circuit, or breaker.

Andy in ATL 12-11-2007 06:35 PM

I think it could be any number of things. Nate had great advice. Pushmatics are breakers with issues and any electrician (well, any that I know) would suggest a panel change out.

LawnGuyLandSparky 12-11-2007 08:15 PM

Keep in mind, some heaters "High" and "low" are the same wattage, time on is the temperature factor.

Weekend Warrior DIY 12-14-2007 11:17 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by Andy in ATL (Post 79891)
I think it could be any number of things. Nate had great advice. Pushmatics are breakers with issues and any electrician (well, any that I know) would suggest a panel change out.

I would love to change out the panel. DEF. NOT SOMETHING I'M GOING TO TACKLE. Sadly not in the budget right this minute.

I eliminated the old heater and bought a new one, it's 1500 watts on low as far as I know. There's no amp draw on the box or the heater at all which angers me cause it should be there. I forgot to mention the other thing on the circut is a three lamp vanity light in the bathroom. I had it on last night and then went to use the bathroom and after a few minutes the breaker tripped. I'm thinking between the light in the bathroom and the heater it's too much. The reason why it might have never tripped when it was on the other circut is because there was only a single bulb light on that same circut and 99% of the time they weren't working at the same time.

Thanks. If I still have problems I'm switching out the breaker.

HouseHelper 12-14-2007 11:28 AM

Switching out the breaker is not as easy as you might think. Pushmatics are bolted in. And are expensive.

jogr 12-14-2007 11:45 AM

Watts = voltage X Amps

So on low at 1500 watts @ 120 volts you are drawing 12.5 amps.

What was the wattage on high for the heater that was tripping the breaker?

Weekend Warrior DIY 12-14-2007 12:44 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by HouseHelper (Post 80549)
Switching out the breaker is not as easy as you might think. Pushmatics are bolted in. And are expensive.

Yes I know they're expensive, just bought one for $46 bucks.

The one I bought isn't a bolt in type, it's a two-pole, 20 amp breaker for another purpose. The one working the heater circut is a single pole, 20 amp breaker and I could see how it might need to be bolted in. I don't plan on replacing it myself trust me.:wink:

Weekend Warrior DIY 12-14-2007 12:46 PM

Quote:

Originally Posted by jogr (Post 80553)
Watts = voltage X Amps

So on low at 1500 watts @ 120 volts you are drawing 12.5 amps.

What was the wattage on high for the heater that was tripping the breaker?


Thanks for the simple math answer. I knew that'd come in handy someday.

I don't know what it is on high, off the top of my head, I'll have to look. I'm just surprised the light on in the bathroom would use up the remaining amperage. If that's even the right description.

jogr 12-14-2007 02:16 PM

Check for other outlets on the circuit too. It's unlikley that the only thing on a 20 amp circuit is one bedroom outlet and the bath light.

Weekend Warrior DIY 12-14-2007 02:47 PM

I know it's the only thing on the circut cause I installed it with the help of an electrician.

The vanity light has three75 watt bulbs so it uses a good amount of juice, add that to a 1500 watt heater and you blow a fuse.


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