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Old 02-17-2010, 12:44 PM   #1
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


Ok my breaker keeps flipping on me. I tried removing everything from all the outlets in the 2 rooms and it keeps flipping. So I replaced the breaker. Still flips. As soon as I flip it, it pops off the second it makes contact! So either something has chewed a wire or I have a bad receptacle or light switch. How would I go about testing for a bad receptacle or light switch if I cant get the breaker to stay on?

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Old 02-17-2010, 02:01 PM   #2
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


Ayuh,... Breakers themselves can go Bad....
If it is the actual Circuit,+ not the breaker,...
Start unhooking the circuit til you find the offending part of it....

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Old 02-17-2010, 02:12 PM   #3
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


Ok what do you mean by unhooking the circuit? You mean like the receptacle or light switch?
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Old 02-17-2010, 04:50 PM   #4
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


Well I disconnected the 3 items I thought might by it one by one and it still flipped each time. 2 outlets and 1 light switch. The reasoning in those three is that when it flipped the first time my son flipped it back on and when he did I heard a noise from that same wall that those 3 items are located. Sounded like sparks shooting off. Now there is quite a bit of stuff plugged up on that line. Could it be possible that when he flipped it back on that a wire in the wall was fried? I already removed 1 of the drywall sections where I heard it and inspected the wires and they are fine. But there is still 2 more sections to check. The breaker that keeps flipping is a tandem 15a breaker. Only that one breaker on it is flipping. Is there anything else I need to check before attempting to remove more drywall?
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Old 02-17-2010, 05:00 PM   #5
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


maybe staple to tight
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Old 02-17-2010, 05:02 PM   #6
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


ok...what?
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Old 02-17-2010, 06:38 PM   #7
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


broken or shorted wire
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Old 02-17-2010, 07:00 PM   #8
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


Identify the items on the circuit. Open each and every switch and outlet and check the wiring in the boxes. If there's a short in the box, you will see evidence in the box. There will be carbon streaks where the wire has shorted against the metal. Also check the light boxes.
If after all that you can't find it, open the walls if you think that's where the issue is.
Has anyone installed any nails in the walls?
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:34 PM   #9
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


No nails or staples any time lately. When I pulled the middle section of drywall down the wiring doesnt go any higher than the outlet, about a foot from the ground, except for the light switch of course! Lol. Should I consider buying one of these as I dont feel like pulling down each section of drywall down to find it. Would it be worth having?

Oh and the box is fine! No burnt or carbon streaks. All ready checked that. In the morning I will work on opening each item on that circuit. Would a receptacle tester work in this case with the power not going to the line?

Last edited by Orion Pax; 02-17-2010 at 10:37 PM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 11:21 PM   #10
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


With the breaker tripped, make a list of everything in the house that doesn't work!
Electrical outlets may be 'daisy chained', or branched, or a combination of the two!
Then, you have to disconnect the wires in each outlet! Each time you open a set of wires, try turning on the breaker!
When I do this, I try to figure out where the middle of the daisy chain would be, and start disconnecting there!
Then if the breaker holds, you know that the fault is at the far end of the line.
Once the breaker holds, don't forget to turn it off, before working on the circuit!
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Old 02-18-2010, 12:21 AM   #11
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


Ya know I think the porch motion lights are on that same line and it hasnt worked in years. Is it possible moisture has creeped inside from the snow/rain we have had in the past 2 months?

I think I am gonna take that thing apart first. That sounds like a more likely candidate! Time to get out my multimeter!

Last edited by Orion Pax; 02-18-2010 at 12:23 AM.
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Old 02-18-2010, 09:06 AM   #12
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Orion Pax View Post
Ya know I think the porch motion lights are on that same line and it hasnt worked in years. Is it possible moisture has creeped inside from the snow/rain we have had in the past 2 months?

I think I am gonna take that thing apart first. That sounds like a more likely candidate! Time to get out my multimeter!
The motion sensing heads fail all too frequently then years ago, but it's usually just at the light. If water got into the box, that could easily be your issue.
That tracing tool might be a nice toy, but isn't really needed in this situation as it's pretty clear with the circuit off, which lights, switches and outlets are not working.
Wilde's methodology will speed the process.
Ron
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:16 AM   #13
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


Ok I removed all outlets and switches starting at the end and worked my way up. As soon as I get to the beginning of the daisy chain it works. I connected the wires at that outlet together with some wire nuts (b+b and w+w) and it still flips so its not a bad outlet. So a wire is fried in my wall some where is my guess. There are still 3 walls that blown wire could be at still. I am thinking its in the one that I was originally thinking where I heard the noise from when the breaker was flipped back on the first time. I need to replace 2 outlets as some of the plastic framing around the plugs them selves have bits broken off and any plugs dont fit snug in them any more so while I am at lowes I will price a wire tracer while I am there. If I can get one cheap enough to justify the cost (at this point any thing cheaper than an electrician and the cost of my house burning down are enough) I will get one. I really dont feel like pulling every sheet of drywall down to do this. I will pull the one I THINK its in down first before I buy one as its the easiest to do. After that if it isnt there then I am getting it. As the rest have most of the electronics and other big items in front of those walls and just too much to move.

Other than a long paragraph does it sound like I'm on the right track?
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Old 02-18-2010, 10:59 AM   #14
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


When you open the box, you look at both the outlet/switch and where the wire enters the box. There are issues with metal boxes and 12 guage wires. Especially 12 guage armoured cable wires as their clamps have a sharp edge. When you fold the wires into the box, you need to be careful that you don't press the hot wire against the edge as it will cut all the way through the insulation(or really close). If you don't get a dead short out of the box, it can show up later on as the wires are moved with outlet use and/or expansion due to heat.
More then likely, the issue would be in the boxes.
Try wiggleing the extended wires around in the box with the breaker on and very carefully examine the wires where they enter the box and for nicks along the wire.
Also check the screw terminals for scorching as they can hit the sides of the metal box. The outlets/switches should be wrapped with electrical tape.
Ron
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Old 02-18-2010, 11:19 AM   #15
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Need help with a short somewhere in my wall.


"Gardner Bender GET-4110K Wire Tracker"

I believe this unit is for tracing communication wiring. I don't think a "wire tracer" will find your problem, at this point.
Not a DIY task--but I'm thinking you need someone to "ring out" this wiring circuit.

"The breaker that keeps flipping is a tandem 15a breaker. Only that one breaker on it is flipping." Tandem 15a breaker ? This sounds as if a 220 volt circuit, are you sure the breaker is a "tandem" breaker? Why a double-pole breaker on a lighting circuit? sorry--but IMO it's time to call in an electrician on this one. David

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