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avengerki 11-01-2013 07:05 AM

Circuit break wiring question
 
I have a circuit breaker in my electrical panel that is getting overloaded and tripping frequently. This 15A circuit breaker is feeding a total of 22 outlets, 5 ceiling light fixtures(two light bulbs), and a ceiling fan with 4 light bulbs(3 rooms, a hallway and stairwell). I still have 2 open slots in the electrical panel but when I look at the circuit breaker in the electrical panel I just have 3 wire, the ground, neutral and hot how can I find where all of the sub circuits are getting tied in?

joecaption 11-01-2013 07:11 AM

Please go back and add your location to your profile. Location can be a big factor when it comes to code related questions. Just go to quick links to edit.
How old is this house?
What type wiring do you have?
Access under the floors or above the ceiling?

PoleCat 11-01-2013 07:33 AM

It will take some busy work to deduce the path of the circuit. Could go to a junction box and split off into different paths from there. (good) Or it could be a string of daisy chained devices from start to finish. (not so good) You will need to figure this out before you can come up with a good plan of attack. It is busy work because you have to open up every outlet, switch and light fixture to see how many sets of conductors are present and do a lot of disconnect reconnect to determine where it is coming from and where it is going to.

avengerki 11-01-2013 07:34 AM

How old is this house? Built in 2002
What type wiring do you have? 3 conductor romex I believe can't remember wire size right now
Access under the floors or above the ceiling? Technically I have access from above the ceiling, and have been thinking of making a hatch to have access below also which would allow above access for the first floor.

avengerki 11-01-2013 07:37 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PoleCat (Post 1260927)
It will take some busy work to deduce the path of the circuit. Could go to a junction box and split off into different paths from there. (good) Or it could be a string of daisy chained devices from start to finish. (not so good) You will need to figure this out before you can come up with a good plan of attack. It is busy work because you have to open up every outlet, switch and light fixture to see how many sets of conductors are present and do a lot of disconnect reconnect to determine where it is coming from and where it is going to.

I had a feeling that was what would be said. Would the junction box probable location be in the ceiling, wall, or below flooring if there is one?

PoleCat 11-01-2013 07:41 AM

15A breaker would make me believe that the circuit or part of it is run in 14ga wire. Do the wires at your service panel all go up into the attic?

PoleCat 11-01-2013 07:42 AM

Junction boxes must be in an accessible place. Attic or crawl space.

PoleCat 11-01-2013 07:43 AM

If you can find a JB in the attic that is fed by that breaker then your day just got a whole lot better.

avengerki 11-01-2013 07:47 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by PoleCat (Post 1260933)
15A breaker would make me believe that the circuit or part of it is run in 14ga wire. Do the wires at your service panel all go up into the attic?

They all exit at the top of the service panel, whether they all up into the attic from there I hope so but this builder was found to of taken alot of shortcuts and weird decisions.

The problem with the attic is I've got that blown cellulose type insulation like a foot deep.

PoleCat 11-01-2013 07:58 AM

I hate crawling around in that stuff too. Buy a decent mask. If you have a hip roof and your panel is in the corner of the house you are in for a rough time when you pull new wires. It is still easier though to make the effort to locate that junction box first if there is one. Get a voltage tic that lights up when you hold it next to a live circuit. They are great for this kind of task. You just turn off the breaker then go up and find the cable that doesn't light it up. This can be either your feed or a switch loop. Follow it to the JB or where it goes back down. It could also go straight to a ceiling fixture too in which case that is ground zero.

PoleCat 11-01-2013 08:04 AM

If it goes down into a wall then to a switch it may just be switch loop. You would need to go down and open up that switch to see if has just one set of wires in it. If so it is just a switch loop. Otherwise it is feeding other devices and the you just keep pecking away until you have a drawing of of the entire circuit.

joecaption 11-01-2013 08:15 AM

This is where a walkey talky and a non contact tester to narrow things down comes in handy and two people.
Gets old going up and down all day.

avengerki 11-01-2013 08:19 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by joecaption (Post 1260948)
This is where a walkey talky and a non contact tester to narrow things down comes in handy and two people.
Gets old going up and down all day.

Yep, last time I went up there to look for something I wound up yelling to my step-son and he didn't always understand what I said so he went up and down. It was great division of labor though.

rjniles 11-01-2013 09:14 AM

I doubt there us a JB in the attic. More likely the circuit just goes from device box to device box.

Jim Port 11-01-2013 09:23 AM

Quote:

Originally Posted by rjniles (Post 1260965)
I doubt there us a JB in the attic. More likely the circuit just goes from device box to device box.

X2. Junction boxes really aren't used in the newer wiring styles.

Instead of trying to split the circuit, try to install a new circuit where needed. It sounds like you have too much load plugged in.


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