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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello,

First time poster here! I have an electrical issue that I was hoping someone with professional and/or past experience could help me pinpoint the issue.

The issue:

I was working in the garage on Saturday and the breaker for the garage lights/outlets kept tripping. I would walk over and reset it and reset the GFCI outlets in the garage and it would work for a few minutes and it would trip again. Long story short I kept doing this and then eventually it stopped resetting.

Fast forward to last night, I unplugged everything from all the outlets and replaced the breaker hoping that would fix the issue. Obviously this didn't fix the issue because now I am here looking for some advice/wisdom.

Background: On the breaker box panel, the breaker that is currently tripped is labeled as "House GFI" and "Garage Lights". Within the garage I have two closets, on mechanical, one storage. Both have a GFI outlet, a light fixture, and one has a second standalone single outlet.

Within the garage I have one regular outlet and two light fixtures. The outside garage/driveway light fixture is also on this circuit so that is out as well.

My question is, what would/should be my next steps in diagnosing this problem? Any and absolutely all advice is greatly appreciated!!!

V/r,
Shervin
 

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1: Is this a regular breaker, or is it a GFCI or AFCI breaker?
2: Does it trip with everything unplugged from the circuit and all switches turned off?
3: Does any part of this circuit run underground? House-to-garage? Garage-to-outside-light?

The answers to these questions will determine the next steps in troubleshooting.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
1: Is this a regular breaker, or is it a GFCI or AFCI breaker?
2: Does it trip with everything unplugged from the circuit and all switches turned off?
3: Does any part of this circuit run underground? House-to-garage? Garage-to-outside-light?

The answers to these questions will determine the next steps in troubleshooting.
1. I am 99% sure that this is not a GFCI or AFCI breaker. The breaker I picked up last night at lowes is a Square D - 15 AMP Home - 120/240 breaker.

2. Everything has been unplugged and it still trips. I have not tried resetting it with the garage light switch off yet thought.

3. I am honestly not sure if any of the circuit runs underground. The Breaker box is actually located in the garage.
 

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Do you know what year your house was built? "House GFCI" could also include any or all bathroom and outdoor receptacles as well. You said:
I would walk over and reset it and reset the [COLOR=blue !important][COLOR=blue !important]GFCI[/COLOR][/COLOR] outlets in the garage and it would work for a few minutes and it would trip again. Long story short I kept doing this and then eventually it stopped resetting.
What isn't resetting, the breaker or the GFCI receptacle?
 

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2. Everything has been unplugged and it still trips. I have not tried resetting it with the garage light switch off yet thought.
Try that. You need to make sure the problem can't be narrowed down to a faulty fixture or piece of equipment.

3. I am honestly not sure if any of the circuit runs underground. The Breaker box is actually located in the garage.
It's important. You need to figure this out. Is the garage detached? How does power get from the house to the garage? Is the driveway light mounted on the garage, or is it a post light away from the structure? You need to identify if there are any underground wire runs involved. They are the most likely culprit after you have ruled out all fixtures and appliances.
 

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Sounds like the breakers are doing their job of protecting you.

If that was my problem, I'd start by inspecting outlets for damage, like broken or cracked faces and have them replaced. Then have the outside electrical fixtures pulled and inspected. Then have the rest of all devices sequentially pulled and inspected.

The parts are cheap, but injury is not.
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Do you know what year your house was built? "House GFCI" could also include any or all bathroom and outdoor receptacles as well. You said:
What isn't resetting, the breaker or the GFCI receptacle?
Hey IslandGuy, The home was built in 2005. There is actually a label for "Bath GFI" as well. The kitchen GFI outlets are not tripped and are working so I'm thinking they are on the same circuit as the "BATH GFI" breaker.

The breaker isn't resetting technically. When I throw the breaker into the "off" position and then put it back into the "On" position, it clicks but you can hear and feel the breaker just trips as soon as you put into the "on" position.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Try that. You need to make sure the problem can't be narrowed down to a faulty fixture or piece of equipment.



It's important. You need to figure this out. Is the garage detached? How does power get from the house to the garage? Is the driveway light mounted on the garage, or is it a post light away from the structure? You need to identify if there are any underground wire runs involved. They are the most likely culprit after you have ruled out all fixtures and appliances.
Thanks Mpoulton: I tried turning off the light switch last night and the breaker still trips as soon as I put it back to the "on" position.

The garage is attached, the home is a townhome end unit and the breaker box is located on a wall that is not adjoined to a neighboring home. The power comes in from the opposite side of the breaker box (outisde of the house). The outside fixture is attached to the house.

Someone at work mentioned taking off each fixture, outlet, and light switch and capping the wires. Once that is done, try resetting the breaker. They said that if the breaker trips, move on to the next fixture/light/outlet until your breaker doesn't trip and then you've identified the issue. Is this true? Would this be my next steps?
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
First off, Thank you all for your advice/input. It sounds like the next step is to go through each fixture/outlet/light switch and check to see if one of those are what is tripping the breaker. It sounds tedious but definitely a cheap fix in comparison to hiring an electrician to come out and diagnose the issue.
 

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Hi,

Just read through the entire post. A few thoughts:

Is the garage finished inside? or can you see studs and the outside walls. If open, not finished, follow all wiring looking for problems.

What were you doing when the breaker tripped? May be a clue.

Is the outside drive way light on a post or mounted on the garage outside wall?

Since the breaker box appears to be labeled, are any circuits labeled kitchen? Should be two of them. If so, where are the gfci's.

Same for the bathrooms, as above, all bathrooms can be on one gfci.

If both Kitchen and bathrooms have gfci's then the breaker labelled "house gfci" does not feed them. That leaves the basement and outside outlets. Is there a basement or crawl space? If there is, I would start there since you have not found the problem yet.

keep us posted

bernie
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Hi,

Just read through the entire post. A few thoughts:

Is the garage finished inside? or can you see studs and the outside walls. If open, not finished, follow all wiring looking for problems.

What were you doing when the breaker tripped? May be a clue.

Is the outside drive way light on a post or mounted on the garage outside wall?

Since the breaker box appears to be labeled, are any circuits labeled kitchen? Should be two of them. If so, where are the gfci's.

Same for the bathrooms, as above, all bathrooms can be on one gfci.

If both Kitchen and bathrooms have gfci's then the breaker labelled "house gfci" does not feed them. That leaves the basement and outside outlets. Is there a basement or crawl space? If there is, I would start there since you have not found the problem yet.

keep us posted

bernie
Bernie,

The garage is finished, so I do not have access to the studs/wiring.

The only thing that I had on was my LED overhead shoplight and some computer speakers for music. However, on the same outlet I had two mini fridges and a glade plug air freshner.

I will have to double to check and see if there is a Kitchen GFI label. I do know of the House and Bath GFI labels. There is a crawl space with a light fixture/switch in there so I will probably start there. There is no basement though.
 

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First off, Thank you all for your advice/input. It sounds like the next step is to go through each fixture/outlet/light switch and check to see if one of those are what is tripping the breaker. It sounds tedious but definitely a cheap fix in comparison to hiring an electrician to come out and diagnose the issue.
That is the next step. You've ruled out the possibility of a bad underground cable run or a short or overload in a fixture or appliance. Since regular switches and receptacles are unlikely to cause this kind of a fault all by themselves, the next most likely culprit is a GFCI device. They can fail internally and cause a short. You may want to start by disconnecting GFCIs to see if the breaker still trips.
 
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