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Old 07-26-2014, 04:42 PM   #1
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How To Find Short Without Wire Tracer?


A 15A circuit breaker (marked "lights" on the panel door) won't stay ON. Remove the HOT wire from that breaker and it will reset normally and stay ON. Edit: Removed the breaker from panel and its HOT wires and Ohm-checked it to ready zero Ohms on both switches. This is a Tandem breaker I just learned from googling.

Move that same HOT wire to a different breaker and that breaker trips and won't reset, not even for a second (just like the first one did - won't stay in the ON position at all).

The two breaker switches mentioned above are on one Tandem breaker I believe it's called. In other words, the two 15A switches are both in one breaker that would normally occupy the normal space of just one regular, single switch-handle breaker, and this Tandem breaker connects only to one lug on the bus bar. I googled and yes, this is evidently a Tandem breaker.

Doesn't matter if the other circuit breaker switch on this Tandem breaker is turned OFF, the original, same, single problematic circuit will not reset, regardless which switch is attached to. The closest I can get to the sound (when you first try to reset it, is... a nasty electrical buzzing sound. Not a lower level buzzing that you'd want to listen to for a moment or so, but one that says you need to turn that breaker off before the over-current starts a fire. But you don't get a chance to turn it OFF, cause it won't stay ON in the first place.

I have the Fluke Networks Pro 3000 Tone & Probe Kit, but have only used it previously to identify all outlets & fixtures on a single circuit, by attaching the kit's signal generator Black wire to the Hot wire at the breaker (after disconnecting it from breaker - Main breaker for this panel turned OFF). The other signal generator wire gets connected to Ground (if I remember correctly). Then just use the kit's probe to follow the circuit path per the tone generated by the probe. Don't know if that would help me find a short circuit...?

Never had to find a short circuit (15A lighting circuit) before - only single 15A circuits with partial outtage (just a few receptacles out on a single 15A circuit - other receptacles were still working on the circuit).

I bypassed two or three suspect receptacles (not knowing if they can short internally or not) by tie-ing the HOT wires together, then the neutrals tied together, but no help so far.

Grateful for suggestions.


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Old 07-26-2014, 05:14 PM   #2
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How To Find Short Without Wire Tracer?


Well Ducky.... Your testing analysis is certainly complete and thorough

Yes.... you have a short.

Alot of ways to try finding it.... you should get alot of ideas.



1) I would start by really thinking of what might have likely/possible changed in your circuit... any electrical work done... any nails screws recently applied to the exterior siding or interior walls... any strange appliances plugged in with possibly shorted wiring.... anything subject to vibration... what kind of circuit... what's on it ... any kids that might have screwed around at a receptical.... any squirrel racoon problems lately.

2) I would then probably start inspecting each outlet (an outlet is any light fixture,receptical, every place on the circuit that electricity leaves it's circuit.... and also any junction boxes.(You may just have a ground wire touching a hot at a receptical, or a bad splice that worked loose or had exposed stripped wire.

3) You could also go to an outlet in the middle of the circuit(or where it might branch) and DISCONNECT your hot(not jump over it), and test the breaker. That likely would indicate wheather the short was before or after the outlet you tested... and continue to work your way back or forward depending on the results.

4) I don't know your tracer, or it's possible application.

Good luck

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Old 07-26-2014, 05:59 PM   #3
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How To Find Short Without Wire Tracer?


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Well Ducky.... Your testing analysis is certainly complete and thorough

Yes.... you have a short.

Alot of ways to try finding it.... you should get alot of ideas.



1) I would start by really thinking of what might have likely/possible changed in your circuit... any electrical work done... any nails screws recently applied to the exterior siding or interior walls... any strange appliances plugged in.... anything subject to vibration... what kind of circuit... what's on it ... any kids that might have screwed around at a receptical.... any squirrel racoon problems lately.

2) I would then probably start inspecting each outlet (an outlet is any light fixture,receptical, every place on the circuit that electricity leaves it's circuit.... and also any junction boxes.(You may just have a ground wire touching a hot at a receptical, or a bad splice that worked loose or had exposed stripped wire.

3) You could also go to an outlet in the middle of the circuit and DISCONNECT your hot(not jump over it), and test the breaker. That likely would indicate wheather the short was before or after the outlet you tested... and continue to work your way back or forward depending on the results.

4) I don't know your tracer, or it's possible application.

Good luck
Thank you, and my gratitude for your reply, Sir - I will go back and use my tone & probe kit again. The Kit is hooked up by attaching its Black wire (pic attached) to the HOT wire from the breaker and its other Red wire to Ground at the panel ( I may have those two colors reversed here, but I do it correctly on the job). then you just turn it ON and follow the circuit from the panel with the beeping probe (the probe detects the signal up to an impressive distance away from the wall, and beeps till you lose the signal).

It's powered by a 9-volt battery. I'm now thinking it would identify all outlets up to the point of where the HOT wire (the Kit sends a signal over the HOT wire from the breaker) short circuits to a neutral or to a Ground wire, wherever that short-circuit connection may be. At that point, there would be no signal from the rest of that circuit, yes? I suppose the short could even end up being on the last outlet on the circuit. Hoping it's not in a wall.

If that doesn't pin-point the short, I'll open the circuit at halfway point best I can and proceed like you said. Oops, forgot the pic. Look for it now, brb.
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Old 07-26-2014, 06:54 PM   #4
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How To Find Short Without Wire Tracer?


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Thank you, and my gratitude for your reply, Sir - I will go back and use my tone & probe kit again. The Kit is hooked up by attaching its Black wire (pic attached) to the HOT wire from the breaker and its other Red wire to Ground at the panel ( I may have those two colors reversed here, but I do it correctly on the job). then you just turn it ON and follow the circuit from the panel with the beeping probe (the probe detects the signal up to an impressive distance away from the wall, and beeps till you lose the signal).

It's powered by a 9-volt battery. I'm now thinking it would identify all outlets up to the point of where the HOT wire (the Kit sends a signal over the HOT wire from the breaker) short circuits to a neutral or to a Ground wire, wherever that short-circuit connection may be. At that point, there would be no signal from the rest of that circuit, yes? (Again I don't know your tracer per se, but sure seems any electronic signal would just continue its flow from its shorted point (on the neutral or EGC) the rest of the circuit. You have a short condition.... not a broken/dead hot.... NO???) I suppose the short could even end up being on the last outlet on the circuit. Hoping it's not in a wall.

If that doesn't pin-point the short, I'll open the circuit at halfway point best I can and proceed like you said. Oops, forgot the pic. Look for it now, brb.
Ducky.... Looks like a handy tracer... can I ask what it cost and you say it's good/effective thru most wall conditions... would you say it detects/beeps for mayble within a foot or so?

Thanks

Best
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Old 07-26-2014, 06:56 PM   #5
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How To Find Short Without Wire Tracer?


That won't won't help finding a short unless you need to trace where the wires go. It will help you follow the path of wires the but not to find a short.

I would do as post #2 stated. Start disconnecting sections of the circuit and see if you can isolate where the short is.
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Old 07-26-2014, 08:27 PM   #6
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How To Find Short Without Wire Tracer?


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That won't won't help finding a short unless you need to trace where the wires go. It will help you follow the path of wires the but not to find a short.

I would do as post #2 stated. Start disconnecting sections of the circuit and see if you can isolate where the short is.
I don't doubt you, but please tell me why I'm wrong here so I can learn from it. If the HOT wire (top of the receptacle) burned off the back (back-stabbed connection I call it), or the side terminal for that matter (as pictured in the attachment), and landed on the Ground wire (the dotted line from the top HOT connection going down to the Ground wire), I thought the signal from my tone generator would head back to the panel via the Ground wire (taking the path of least resistance), instead of continuing on to the rest of the circuitl via the Ground wire.

Not ignoring you Peter, reply soon about the Tone & Probe Kit.
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Old 07-26-2014, 09:14 PM   #7
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How To Find Short Without Wire Tracer?


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Ducky.... Looks like a handy tracer... can I ask what it cost and you say it's good/effective thru most wall conditions... would you say it detects/beeps for mayble within a foot or so?

Thanks

Best
I believe the reviews (link below) will speak to the range of detection. There were more than 100 reviews currently on Amazon.com

I've only used it with drywall so far, and only for lighting and receptacle circuits in mobile homes (4" to 6" thick walls). However, the reviews I read on Amazon.com were favorable for regular residential construction. This unit was designed for data cables I believe, but at least one of the reviews said it was great for other electrical. Plenty reviews on Amazon:

http://www.amazon.com/Fluke-Networks...owViewpoints=1

I paid approximately $75.00 at the big box store back when.... Amazon's current price is $66.00 - free shipping of course. Googling for "tone & probe kit", then selecting "Images" (I'm sure you're familiar) will bring up no shortage of tone & probe kit pics.

I normally use it to trace the circuit path from the panel (when I have just a few receptacles/outlets not working on a single circuit), while plugging in a 3-prong circuit tester in each receptacle detected on the circuit with the beeping probe (leaving each tester plugged in to the receptacles), as I make my way to the end of the circuit (or at least to where I lose the signal from my tone generator).

There may be pitfalls to this method I'm not aware of yet, but so far it has worked great for me. I end up with 3-prong testers plugged into all (or at least most of) the receptacles on the circuit (bought twenty of them on the Internet for a bulk price (< $3.00 each if I remember correctly). Then eyeball all of the testers, looking for the first one from the panel that's not working properly... you get picture... I know it could be the receptacle just before the first one that's not lighting the tester up properly, and I also know that at least one of the patterns of lights (that shows up) on those testers isn't "telling the truth", but that's never been a problem for me. So far, the resulting pattern I see of all the 3-prong testers has always helped me find the problem much quicker than I used to (relatively speaking, I'm a beginner). If nothing else, it has enable me to locate and mark (with those 3-prong~) all (or most of) the receptacles on the circuit pretty quickly. ID's light switches and fixtures also, of course.

Before I started using the tone&probe kit, I would look everywhere for the problem in the living room (or wherever), but finally only find a single bad receptacle isolated in a remote room and being the only receptacle on the bad circuit in that room. Hope that makes sense. Maybe that's something only found in mobile homes...?

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Old 07-27-2014, 06:59 AM   #8
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How To Find Short Without Wire Tracer?


If the hot disconnected and shorted to the ground, the ground wire would now contain the signal as well as the hot. The signal would continue down the ground wire of the entire circuit.
That device will work to find an open as the signal will stop at the open stop. I have used a similar device to find opens.

I would use an ohmmeter to look for a short.
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Old 07-27-2014, 08:14 AM   #9
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How To Find Short Without Wire Tracer?


Divide and conquer, start in the middle split the circuit, check for shorts if the line is clear, turn on that portion and see what is left not energized, repeat.

Time consuming but simple
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Old 07-27-2014, 09:42 AM   #10
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How To Find Short Without Wire Tracer?


Ok, divide and conquer it is... thanks to all.
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Old 07-27-2014, 10:00 AM   #11
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Divide and conquer, start in the middle split the circuit, check for shorts if the line is clear, turn on that portion and see what is left not energized, repeat.

Time consuming but simple
Much agreed. "IF" a mid point can be determined.

Just throwing it out there, confirm all light switches are off and there is nothing plugged into any receptacles.

Start opening boxs. Disconnect hots and using continuity tester start figuring out what goes where.

Good luck.
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Old 07-27-2014, 10:11 AM   #12
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How To Find Short Without Wire Tracer?


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Much agreed. "IF" a mid point can be determined.

Just throwing it out there, confirm all light switches are off and there is nothing plugged into any receptacles.

Start opening boxs. Disconnect hots and [B]using continuity tester start figuring out what goes where.

Good luck.
Thx for "just throwing it out there." Have heard about doing that (switches OFF and nothing plugged in), but forgot about it. Please give an example of what you mean by that... connect ohmmeter probes to where, to figure out what goes where?

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Old 07-27-2014, 10:55 AM   #13
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How To Find Short Without Wire Tracer?


Not an expert here but based on what's said...
1) figure out exactly what that breaker feeds. What no longer has power.
2) make sure all outlets are free of anything plugged in and switches off.
a) if something was plugged in, try circuit again to see if that was it.
3) if no to 2a then try to determine, based on what's out, how it feeds.
a) open circuit at an outlet you know to be affected.
b) once done check for a short from the breaker or both ways from the point you opened. Unless you're feeding through a ceiling fan or something you should read open if good.

If I'm incorrect I'm happy to be corrected by those in the trade.

As far as what goes where, once you find a good part of your circuit, I imagine you could hook up your probe tool at any point to trace.

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Old 07-27-2014, 12:16 PM   #14
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Thx for "just throwing it out there." Have heard about doing that (switches OFF and nothing plugged in), but forgot about it. Please give an example of what you mean by that... connect ohmmeter probes to where, to figure out what goes where?
Ducky.... With your breaker off (obviously), after you;ve opened the hot at some some test point in the circuit , you would be checking for continuity between your hot and either your neutral or ground at the panel. When you have continuity, that indicates the short is still present and upstream from where you opened the hot.... and visa-versa.

(It's obviously preferable to my reference earlier to test for the short by testing via the breaker and 120 volts.)

Best
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Old 07-27-2014, 01:15 PM   #15
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Ducky.... With your breaker off (obviously), after you;ve opened the hot at some some test point in the circuit , you would be checking for continuity between your hot and either your neutral or ground at the panel. When you have continuity, that indicates the short is still present and upstream from where you opened the hot.... and visa-versa.

(It's obviously preferable to my reference earlier to test for the short by testing via the breaker and 120 volts.)

Best
Got it & understood - thank you kindly sir.

Thx for jumping in Clw~ See what you were saying now in 3b.


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