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blueandyellow 01-22-2011 04:06 PM

circuit breaker?
 
I am having an electrical problem and I'm wondering if it makes sense to change out the circuit breaker. When I put the breaker into the "Off" position, all of the outlets on that circuit remain on, but the other items (two overhead lights) are killed. When I put the breaker into the "On" position, then the outlets are off, but the lights are on. The lights are in a room that is adjacent to the room with the outlets.

Does it make sense to switch out the breaker, or is there a problem within the circuit? The house is 26 years old, as are the electrical panel and the breakers.

rjniles 01-22-2011 04:20 PM

Something is wires very wrong, a bad breaker does not account for the symptoms as you describe them.

J. V. 01-23-2011 10:27 AM

Are you sure off is off and on is on?

joed 01-23-2011 03:43 PM

Sounds like you have two circuits cross connected. After you turn the one breaker off try turning others off and see if the circuit goes completely dead.

blueandyellow 01-30-2011 08:31 PM

I was wondering about a crossed circuit. I am pretty ignorant about electrical wiring, but it seems with the breaker in the off position, and the lights not functional, it means that the breaker is doing its job. A friend of mine who is an outdoors electrician said that the breaker should be 100% on or 100% off, so it's really weird that I'd have electricity leaking into the circuit. So that's why the crossed wiring seems like a possibility, just speaking intuitively and not from any real knowledge about wiring.

I replaced the old circuit breaker with a new one of the same brand. The whole circuit worked fine for about 5 hours, and then the outlets turned off again. I did not plug in anything that draws a lot of current; it just suddenly stopped working. I only knew because I tried to send an email from my laptop and I couldn't (no modem, no internet).

Now, with the new breaker, when the breaker is in the on position, the lights are on but the outlets do not work. When the breaker is in the off position, there is a little electricity to the outlets, but not enough to power anything--just enough so I can feel a little buzz with my finger. How do I know this? :) I decided to look at the wiring in the outlets to see if anything is loose, and when I accidentally touched the brass screw, eeks!

I like the idea of keeping this breaker off, and then sequentially turning the other ones off to see if that kills the electricity entirely. I don't have the equipment to do this.

Questions: Do I need to get a voltmeter or a multimeter? Is a cheap one OK?

Thanks!

Jackofall1 01-30-2011 08:39 PM

Yes, you need a meter if you want to try and figure this one on your own. An inexpensive digital will do the trick.

I have to ask have you done any wiring in the house already?

Sure sounds like there is a circuit crossed connected with 2 breakers.

Mark

blueandyellow 01-30-2011 08:53 PM

Thanks, I will go buy one during the upcoming week.

I have not done any wiring per se. I did change out all of the electrical outlets and all of the light switches about 2 years ago. Until now, I thought everything was working normally, and when I replaced the outlets and switches, I of course turned off the circuit breakers to do that and I don't think I ever got zapped. But maybe I was more careful not to touch anything back then.

Is it possible that I could have rewired an outlet incorrectly to cause this problem? I was trying to rewire them as I had found them but maybe I got something mixed up.

dmxtothemax 01-30-2011 10:27 PM

A cheap digital meter will do for a start,
But be aware that digital multi meters can some times give
misleading readings, due to there high impedance.
Leakage currents, are not un common,
And can be caused by many different things,
If you can, also check it with an older style anologue
meter with a lower impedance.
Or even a test lamp.
From what you say it might not be full power on the outlets,
could just be some leakage.

Quote:

Originally Posted by blueandyellow (Post 581352)
I was wondering about a crossed circuit. I am pretty ignorant about electrical wiring, but it seems with the breaker in the off position, and the lights not functional, it means that the breaker is doing its job. A friend of mine who is an outdoors electrician said that the breaker should be 100% on or 100% off, so it's really weird that I'd have electricity leaking into the circuit. So that's why the crossed wiring seems like a possibility, just speaking intuitively and not from any real knowledge about wiring.

I replaced the old circuit breaker with a new one of the same brand. The whole circuit worked fine for about 5 hours, and then the outlets turned off again. I did not plug in anything that draws a lot of current; it just suddenly stopped working. I only knew because I tried to send an email from my laptop and I couldn't (no modem, no internet).

Now, with the new breaker, when the breaker is in the on position, the lights are on but the outlets do not work. When the breaker is in the off position, there is a little electricity to the outlets, but not enough to power anything--just enough so I can feel a little buzz with my finger. How do I know this? :) I decided to look at the wiring in the outlets to see if anything is loose, and when I accidentally touched the brass screw, eeks!

I like the idea of keeping this breaker off, and then sequentially turning the other ones off to see if that kills the electricity entirely. I don't have the equipment to do this.

Questions: Do I need to get a voltmeter or a multimeter? Is a cheap one OK?

Thanks!



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