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Old 12-21-2008, 07:59 PM   #1
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Help! Circuit breakers in trouble


I would like to call electricians but it is now 8:57 sunday night

Help! Circuit breaker not coming back to on or off
Before today I knew nothing about circuit breakers (I thought they were called fuses btw) but last night some of my appliances stopped working on in the same area. I understood it was blown fuses. So I moved thse appliances to another area. Same story this afternoon, another area of my apartment is without power. Then I started worrying and checked the fuses box (they are circuit breakers actually). I learned since then that they go to off automatically if they are overloaded.

Anyway, I started pushing them off and on and finally one of the area without power got it back after that...I thought miracle in front of my eyes and didn't care how it happens after all I am not an electrician.

But then, I made things worst when I started reading on circuit breakers on the net and read somewhere that we had to test circuit breakers every year and push them off and on use the test botton etc. I tried that and guess my miracle is gone now

I am back to where I was before with only 1/3 of the power outlets working how did I do that don't ask me.

All I know now for sure is there was one big trouble before and now there is another bigger one.

Before I played with the breakers, only one of them wouldn't go back to on and whenever I tried I heard the alarm sound and started worrying was I going to burn the place but now since then, I can't bring the main one the one with the yellow test botton on back on. It stays at the middle.

To make things worst I was using an electric heater (so not only it is mostly dark but also cold here. Maybe that's where the problem is from. The heater needs a 1500 W and I have no idea what my power supply is giving me as I couldn't understand a thing on the breakers no matter how I looked. All I know is that they are cutler hammer and I hate electric problems.

Oh just checked and the miracle is back. I put off the one with the yellow test botton on and it works but not the one making noise.


Could you please tell me if the alarm is telling me of a danger within the power outlet/power supply or is it a smoke detector issue?

Since I had the problem, tried one of the electric heater I use not the 1500 W but another one (800 W) it is a ceramic heater and I smelled smoke and I coughed. I thought it was the normal smell it used to have (and was thinking it was dust burning) but I have a feeling it was different today some weird smell. I am putting that heater in the garbage.




thanks for your time.

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Old 12-21-2008, 08:55 PM   #2
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Help! Circuit breakers in trouble


If you are renting you need to call the landlord. If not post some pistures and we will try and help.

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Old 12-21-2008, 08:56 PM   #3
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Help! Circuit breakers in trouble


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Originally Posted by Circuit breakers View Post
I would like to call electricians but it is now 8:57 sunday night

Help! Circuit breaker not coming back to on or off
Before today I knew nothing about circuit breakers (I thought they were called fuses btw) but last night some of my appliances stopped working on in the same area. I understood it was blown fuses. So I moved thse appliances to another area. Same story this afternoon, another area of my apartment is without power. Then I started worrying and checked the fuses box (they are circuit breakers actually). I learned since then that they go to off automatically if they are overloaded.

Anyway, I started pushing them off and on and finally one of the area without power got it back after that...I thought miracle in front of my eyes and didn't care how it happens after all I am not an electrician.

But then, I made things worst when I started reading on circuit breakers on the net and read somewhere that we had to test circuit breakers every year and push them off and on use the test botton etc. I tried that and guess my miracle is gone now

I am back to where I was before with only 1/3 of the power outlets working how did I do that don't ask me.

All I know now for sure is there was one big trouble before and now there is another bigger one.

Before I played with the breakers, only one of them wouldn't go back to on and whenever I tried I heard the alarm sound and started worrying was I going to burn the place but now since then, I can't bring the main one the one with the yellow test botton on back on. It stays at the middle.

To make things worst I was using an electric heater (so not only it is mostly dark but also cold here. Maybe that's where the problem is from. The heater needs a 1500 W and I have no idea what my power supply is giving me as I couldn't understand a thing on the breakers no matter how I looked. All I know is that they are cutler hammer and I hate electric problems.

Oh just checked and the miracle is back. I put off the one with the yellow test botton on and it works but not the one making noise.


Could you please tell me if the alarm is telling me of a danger within the power outlet/power supply or is it a smoke detector issue?

Since I had the problem, tried one of the electric heater I use not the 1500 W but another one (800 W) it is a ceramic heater and I smelled smoke and I coughed. I thought it was the normal smell it used to have (and was thinking it was dust burning) but I have a feeling it was different today some weird smell. I am putting that heater in the garbage.




thanks for your time.
Have you contacted your landlord or building maintenance person? Does the owner / manager live at or near the complex? This may be something that is easy for them to fix.

Where is the noise /alarm sound coming from? From a smoke alarm?

Have you tried using your heater in your kitchen with out of the counter top outlets? They should not have any other items connected to them, and should be able to handle the heater load.

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Old 12-22-2008, 09:37 AM   #4
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Help! Circuit breakers in trouble


My building management are usually not helpful but I haven't tried yet because yesterday was sunday.

I don't know where the sound is coming from but it reminds me of the smoke detector...actually not so sure. However how can I have smoke at home after all these hours now. I is now Monday 9:30 am and the problem happened early afternoon yesterday. I haven't opened the windows because I wasn't able to (they are frozen...I am in Canada).

The only think making me think it could be the smoke detector is because the noise starts whenever I try to bring the first circuit breaker from off to on. And on the chart (map) next to the breaker, the first circuit breaker is supposed to be Smoke detector and LTG.

I can't post pictures because don't have a digital camera now. But my cell is crazy. But here is how it looks like:

1. Smoke detector and LTG (15)

3. Stove (40)
5. stove?(40)
7. Diswasher
9. Fridge.
11. Kit split Recept
19. etc.

Most of the breakers have the number 15 on it. The AC-HTG has 20, the dryer has 30 and the stove has 40 x2.

Please tell me if the bigger number are where I can get more electricity.


I haven't tried the heater in the kitchen because not only it is not the best place (this is a small condo) but also I was thinking I'd better save this area as I want to keep having hot meals and drinks.



Oh last update:

just checked to see where the noise was coming frm so for the first time, I let the noise be and guess what it is all gone it was only while I was bringing the switch from off to on. So now all the breakers are working
Thanks for asking me these questions on the noise Jamie.

But I am still worried about the brekears and the amount of power the heater needs. First of all, I was using two electrical heater one that could smell burn and that's going to the garbabe. But my second heater is a new one and it is written on it 120v-hz 1500W. Is that too much?


Now, I am back trying the same outlet I was using before the problem but this time, I will move all my other appliances so that they are not on the same circuit breaker area. I now know which outlets are working together. After that, I will try the kitchen if I still have the same problem. Tell me if it is a good thing that I use an power extention or need a power surge for my heater plz.

Thanks for your time and for helping.
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Old 12-22-2008, 09:54 AM   #5
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Help! Circuit breakers in trouble


1500watts is just about the entire wattage limit of a one 15amp breaker. You should not be using more than one 1500 watt heater and maybe few lights and TV at the same time on a circuit. It will trip the breaker.
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Old 12-22-2008, 10:10 AM   #6
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Help! Circuit breakers in trouble


It sounds like your smoke alarm just beeps a little when it first gets power. It's probably not a big deal.

The breakers themselves should never make any noise other than "chunk".. if they do, it's a serious problem.

I don't know what you mean by big yellow test button on your main. Might it be a sticker with a star in it?
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Old 12-22-2008, 10:51 AM   #7
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1500watts is just about the entire wattage limit of a one 15amp breaker. You should not be using more than one 1500 watt heater and maybe few lights and TV at the same time on a circuit. It will trip the breaker.

Thank you so much Joed. I needed to know this because I didn't know what these numbers were even though I started suspecting it could be linked to the wattage limit. Now, I have only an alarm clock on the same breaker than the heater. I won't even use the lights with them.

Before yesterday, I had the same heater, a 100W halogene lamp, the alarm and when I started plugging my Tobi steamer (dont know the watts), the breaker switched went out. The secoond time, I was using the 1500W heater, the 800 one, a 300 watt humidifier and my computer/internet. Now, I realize it was sooooooo much. But because I didn't know which outlets are on the same breaker, I thought there were fine all being on different outlets.

Now, I moved the humidifier in the kitchen on the breaker that has 20 amp. Not the same as the stove.

I have only the computer/internet, TV cell phone and lights during night time on another 15 amp breaker. And maybe I could move my humidifier to the same area as I don't like it in the kitchen.

Gigs, I think the yellow thing is the test botton on the main switch. It says Arc Fault Recept. Thank you very much.
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Old 12-22-2008, 11:06 AM   #8
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Thank you so much Joed. I needed to know this because I didn't know what these numbers were even though I started suspecting it could be linked to the wattage limit.

20 amps is about 2400 watts 15 amps is 1800 watts. I would keep it under 80% load to be safe.


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Gigs, I think the yellow thing is the test botton on the main switch. It says Arc Fault Recept. Thank you very much.
OK. Yes in theory you are supposed to test all those monthly or so. No one does.
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Old 12-22-2008, 12:56 PM   #9
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Help! Circuit breakers in trouble


I am so glad of my experience. I learned so much and important stuff about safety in less than 24 hours

It is great to have the DIY forum. DId I tell you I first went to the electrician forum to post it is a sister website to this one...thats how I learned about the DIY chatroom. I was wondering why they asked me my field and stuff. Hehehehehe even though I didn't graduate from an electrician college, I know now certain things now...I know what the number on the circuit breakers means finally
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Old 12-22-2008, 12:58 PM   #10
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20 amps is about 2400 watts 15 amps is 1800 watts. I would keep it under 80% load to be safe.

OK. Yes in theory you are supposed to test all those monthly or so. No one does.

GReat to know what the 15 amps means and what I can use for. I feel safer now than yesterday and and smarter

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