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Old 05-21-2009, 02:56 PM   #1
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Replaced Outlet, but now tripping the circuit breaker


I bought a condo that was about 20 years old. The outlets were old and horrible in color. So I went to the store and got a few packs of new outlets...I just replaced them all, but now when I flip the light switch where the lamps connect to in the wall outlet, the circuit breaker trips. I was very careful on putting the wires in the same location in the new outlet, but I put the 2 blacks on the gold screws and the 2 white on the silver screws, and then the copper on the ground. There is a red wire, which I put in the back of the outlet through the hole on the gold/black wire side.

Where did I mess up? I am at least consistent as both bedrooms have this problem, so I assume once I know what to move or replace, I will be all good!

Thanks in advance for your help. My wife is giving me the "I told you that you should have called an electrician statement" and I want to prove her wrong! :-)

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Old 05-21-2009, 03:23 PM   #2
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Replaced Outlet, but now tripping the circuit breaker


First unplug everything from the outlets you wired and try the breaker.
If it still trips, undo, two outlets at a time, what you wired and try the breaker.
Keep undoing until the breaker doesn't trip any more. If you start "at the right end" you won't need to unwire very much.

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Old 05-21-2009, 03:44 PM   #3
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Replaced Outlet, but now tripping the circuit breaker


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There is a red wire, which I put in the back of the outlet through the hole on the gold/black wire side.
That's the first place to look. Disconnect the red and see if it still trips.

All that should have happened is that the sw didn't operate half the recep.....but who knows.Maybe the red sw leg is on a different circuit....but then it would have tripped two circuits.


Is there another room which has a switched recep with NO red wire?

If so, turn off the switch(es) and try to reset the breaker.


Note. On 1/2 switched receps you need to pry/break out the brass colored tab between the screws that joins the two hot terminals. The red provides power to one half and the black to the other. The red/black are usually on the same circuit so it shouldn't cause a trip.

Last edited by 220/221; 05-21-2009 at 03:50 PM.
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Old 05-21-2009, 05:48 PM   #4
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Replaced Outlet, but now tripping the circuit breaker


ok so I took the brass connector off between the two gold screws, and now I don't have any power to the outlet. I did notice on the ones I took out that the brass piece was gone there too...any ideas now?
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Old 05-21-2009, 05:58 PM   #5
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Replaced Outlet, but now tripping the circuit breaker


You may have shorted out your circuit with an improperly wired switch loop.

A few things to check here:

1) Wall switch. Does it only have a white and black conductor connected to it?

2) How many outlets have that
red wire present?

3) Are all the tabs broken off in the same outlets that the
red wire is present?

Report back with your findings, and we can provide instructions on how to fix this.
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Old 05-21-2009, 05:59 PM   #6
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Replaced Outlet, but now tripping the circuit breaker


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Originally Posted by bman598 View Post
ok so I took the brass connector off between the two gold screws, and now I don't have any power to the outlet. I did notice on the ones I took out that the brass piece was gone there too...any ideas now?
Look inside the switch and see it it just has a white and black wire going to it. If so, then where ever that cable goes, it is wired wrong. On one of the receptacles you removed the white wire was wired hot for the switch and the black wired brought switched power back, and it was carried to the other recepts on the red wire. You have to find the box where the switch cable comes into the circuit and correct the tap there.
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Old 05-21-2009, 07:39 PM   #7
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Replaced Outlet, but now tripping the circuit breaker


ok so I looked behind the switch and there is only a pair of black and white to the switch, no red...so does that mean that the red is a hop from one outlet to the other? If so, what should the red connect to? There are only 2 outlets that have a red wire (one on each side of the bed). I have broken both tabs on outlet#1 (the one that now has 0 power), but only broke the tab off on the black wire side on outlet #2 and that only has power to the bottom receptacle. I am afraid if I break off the tab on the white side of outlet #2, it will not have any power like outlet #1
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:00 PM   #8
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Replaced Outlet, but now tripping the circuit breaker


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Originally Posted by bman598 View Post
ok so I looked behind the switch and there is only a pair of black and white to the switch, no red...so does that mean that the red is a hop from one outlet to the other? If so, what should the red connect to? There are only 2 outlets that have a red wire (one on each side of the bed). I have broken both tabs on outlet#1 (the one that now has 0 power), but only broke the tab off on the black wire side on outlet #2 and that only has power to the bottom receptacle. I am afraid if I break off the tab on the white side of outlet #2, it will not have any power like outlet #1
OK, one of those recepts with the red wire is going to have the cable coming from the switch. You need to take the two recepts out, take the wires apart, and check to see which cable is the power, and which is the switch. This can be two different ways.

1) One receptacle box will have three cables in it. Two cables with a black and white, and one cable with black, white and red. OR....

2) One box will have a cable with a black and white that is the power feed, and a black, white and red. And the other box will have a cable with a black and white that is the switch wire, and a black, white and red.

Figure out what is what and post back.
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:07 PM   #9
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Replaced Outlet, but now tripping the circuit breaker


Thanks for your help so far...So here is what I have. The receptacle has 2 sets of wires. 1 set has red/black/white, the 2nd set is just black and white. Both receptacles are the exact same.
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Old 05-21-2009, 08:35 PM   #10
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Replaced Outlet, but now tripping the circuit breaker


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Thanks for your help so far...So here is what I have. The receptacle has 2 sets of wires. 1 set has red/black/white, the 2nd set is just black and white. Both receptacles are the exact same.
OK, that's pretty simple. You have to identify which of the 2-wire cables is the power in.

Connect the power white to one silver screw on the receptacle. Connect the white of the black, red, white set to the other silver screw.

Connect the two blacks together, and connect a short piece of scrap black wire to them with a wire nut. Connect the other end of this short piece to the other brass screw. And connect up all the grounds, of course.

In the other box, with the 2-wire cable from the switch, connect the black from the black, red, white set to the WHITE of the 2-wire cable and connect a short piece of scrap black wire to them with a wire nut. Connect the other end of this wire to one of the brass screws.

Connect the remaining black and red together the same way, and use a scrap piece to connect to the other brass screw.

The white wire from the black, white, red set goes on one of the silver screws.

In the below diagram, the whites on the right are connected by a wire nut, but you could also put each on a silver screw. Leave the tabs on the silver sides, but remove them from both brass sides. Sorry for the crudity of the diagram, but I didn't have time to paint it or build it to scale...
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