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Old 12-22-2008, 02:42 PM   #1
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breaker wont flip


I have a bad three way switch circuit that when the breaker is flipped.. it throws a spark... how can I diagnosed the problem..

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Old 12-22-2008, 02:56 PM   #2
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breaker wont flip


We need a little more information than that...

What is on this circuit?
Have you changed any of the wiring or did this just happen?
Are the sparks coming from the breaker, the switch or some where else?

The more information you can give the easier it is to help.

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Old 12-22-2008, 03:11 PM   #3
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breaker wont flip


The circuit contains wall outlets and a 3 way switch for the foyer light. I removed one of the three way switches and hooked it back up. I have not test for voltage to the hot wire. I am a novice so forgive the incorrect teminology
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Old 12-22-2008, 03:32 PM   #4
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breaker wont flip


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Originally Posted by Mark K View Post
The circuit contains wall outlets and a 3 way switch for the foyer light. I removed one of the three way switches and hooked it back up. I have not test for voltage to the hot wire. I am a novice so forgive the incorrect teminology
Open the switch back up and make sure you didn't accidentally cause a ground wire to touch a screw terminal. Or if this is a metal box, make sure no screws are touching the box.
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Old 12-22-2008, 03:45 PM   #5
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breaker wont flip


Opened up the switch, the box is plastic ... I also pulled the switch away from the box and still the same issue... The other thing that is happening is the breaker will not go to the on position. I flip it to off then it will no go to the full on position

Last edited by Mark K; 12-22-2008 at 03:51 PM.
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Old 12-22-2008, 03:50 PM   #6
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breaker wont flip


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Originally Posted by Mark K View Post
Opened up the switch, the box is plastic ... I also pulled the switch away from the box and still the same issue
Are you sure all the wires went back on the same terminals they came from? Did you take any wires out of a wire nut? Are all the connections tight? Is it actually causing sparks, tripping the breaker or just not working?
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Old 12-22-2008, 04:06 PM   #7
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breaker wont flip


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Originally Posted by Mark K View Post
I have a bad three way switch circuit that when the breaker is flipped.. it throws a spark... how can I diagnosed the problem..
If you ONLY removed the switch wires coming from black or brass screws, (not including a bare ground) you would not have damaged anything. If the breaker shuts down when you try to put it on, somewhere there is a short with a neutral (white) or ground (bare copper) wire.

A typical 3-way switch has 3 main screws (black, brass, brass) not including the ground green screw.
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Old 12-22-2008, 05:31 PM   #8
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breaker wont flip


Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark K View Post
Opened up the switch, the box is plastic ... I also pulled the switch away from the box and still the same issue... The other thing that is happening is the breaker will not go to the on position. I flip it to off then it will no go to the full on position
OK. So one question is, is it possible that you mixed a white wire up that's supposed to be neutral with a white wire that might land on the switch?

A second question is does the breaker just not click in the on position, or does it violently snap back? Try taking the wires off the switch and try the breaker again.
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Old 12-22-2008, 06:39 PM   #9
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breaker wont flip


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when the breaker is flipped.. it throws a spark
I think it's normal for a breaker to spark if there is a short when you try to turn it on. That's the short circuit current being open by the breaker, as it trips instantly when you attempt to reset it.

What sort of cable do you have coming into the box with the 3-way switch?
Normally, since you are using a plastic box, it would have to be Non-Metallic, but if it's not, and it is metallic cable, then there could be a short between the hot (or one of the travelers) to the sheath of the cable.

When you installed the switch, did you also install, or modify the lighting fixture? If so, your short could be there.

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