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Old 10-01-2010, 09:08 PM   #1
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Damaged wire

I have a circuit that would occasionally trip the breaker. I tracked it down to some faulty equipment... I tested it with a meter and normally it ran at 6-7 amps, but right when it started up, would spike at 17 or 18 amps before returning down to 6 or 7. The circuit had a 15-amp breaker. After the latest trip, I smelled burning plastic near the box, and after taking off the cover, discovered that the insulation on the hot wire going into that breaker had started to melt.

So the faulty equipment is gone, and I'm going to replace that breaker. The question is, how much of the wire should be replaced? Should I just replace the whole wire? It appears that the damage is limited to right where the hot wire was plugged into the breaker, but then again I haven't inspected the entire length of the wire.

And should I be worried about anything else? The rest of the breaker box looks fine, and I almost never have any other circuits that trip, aside from this one troublemaker.



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Old 10-01-2010, 09:17 PM   #2
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Replace only the part with the damaged insulation. It was probably a loose connection that caused the wire to heat up at the end.


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Old 10-01-2010, 09:25 PM   #3
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Thanks, that will save a lot of work, since there's plenty of slack in the wire in the box to just strip it and reconnect it.
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Old 10-01-2010, 11:33 PM   #4
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If you have plenty slack on the conductor it is not a issue at all just cut off the burnted part however it will be wise to check the rest of the circuit if you have any more receptale or switches or junction boxes that affect that circuit just rule it out so you can really slove the issue.

One loose connection may have a chain reaction with other loose connections as well so once you found one it will be wise to check the rest espcally with backstabbed recetpales they are nortious for it.

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Old 10-02-2010, 10:53 AM   #5
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The equipment may not be faulty at all.
What is the equipment that had the spike and settled down to the noraml amperage.
The culpert may hane been the loose connection the whole time.
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Old 10-02-2010, 01:30 PM   #6
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The equipment was an electric mower. IT was kind of on the fritz anyway and near the end of its life - after several great years of service it was getting pretty old and was behaving strangely. There may be a short in it somewhere but nobody can seem to find it.

I haven't seen any issues with any of the other connections, nor with most of the wire. There is a section of the wire that is in conduit, so there's no way to check that without pulling all the wire, but all the junctions and connections look OK.
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Old 10-02-2010, 07:22 PM   #7
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It is pretty typical for an electric motor to draw a high surge amperage on startup. Refrigerators do it, for instance. Circuit breakers are designed to tolerate a brief surge amperage slightly in excess of their rated capacity.


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