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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
All -

So yesterday afternoon my wife was re-installing a metal screen that goes into a very old oven hood above a relatively new cooktop in our kitchen. Somehow in her maneuvering to re-insert the screen (she had temporarily removed the metal screen to clean it) she must have shorted the circuit because she told me there was a large spark that popped out into the kitchen from the area of the hood. And, shortly after that she noticed that the following things didn't work:

- a ceiling light above our kitchen sink
- a wall outlet just to the right of our kitchen sink
- a wall outlet about 5 or 6 feet to the left of our kitchen sink
- a wall outlet in the eating area of our kitchen
- a wall outlet above a computer desk in an adjoining family room
- a wall outlet below the same computer desk in the adjoining family room

I looked at our CB panels in the garage and noticed one of the breakers was tripped; it was still in the "ON" position but had the orange flag indicator in the breaker showing. I reset the breaker once and went inside to check the bad outlets and still had no power. Then I went to flip the breaker again but this time I flipped it ON/OFF several times. I then checked the bad outlets and the light and they worked. The orange "popped" flag was now out of view in the offending breaker. Life was good. Then tonight my wife said the same items had quit working again.

I checked the breaker panel again and the same breaker had tripped (can't remember if it was in the ON or OFF position) but the orange flag was clearly in view again. Reset the breaker once, the flag disappeared and all the offending items (outlets and light) are working again.

So, this is obviously connected to the arcing/short circuiting when my wife put the hood screen back in place the first time but why would the breaker trip again? Especially when there was no additional load added to the circuit?

I'm no electrician; adding some ceiling lights and wiring a couple ceiling fans and chandeliers is the extent of my electrical experience. Is it time to call an electrician or do you think I should wait? Is the bad CB somehow now overloaded even with no additional items being powered on it?

Thanks in advance!
 

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Naildriver
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How old is the house? I ask because the wiring is not up to code. There must be two separate circuits to your kitchen countertops and they must be GFCI protected. It sounds as if that circuit extends past what is normal.

Anyway, it seems to boil down to the wiring in the range hood. Remove the power at the breaker and pull the cover off the connections in the hood. If the shorted wires are still touching each other, it will cause what you are describing. Separate and make sure the exposed ends of the wires are properly capped, then put them back in the box. You may encounter a black flashed area where it occurred. Let us know how it goes.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Larry -

House was built in 1971. From what I can tell, that one CB protects only the items I listed in my first post, ie, there is definitely more than one circuit for the kitchen's electrical needs. However, there are definitely not any GFCI outlets anywhere in the entire kitchen.

What you're saying about the range hood's wiring touching each other makes sense. Did not think about that. Will check today. Thanks!
 

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After you have checked and corrected the short, and made sure everything is in order, you may have to replace the breaker, if what I've been told by a couple of electrician friends is accurate - that breakers get more sensitive (trip at a lower current draw) after every time they are tripped. After after tripping 3 or 4 times (or less), they should be replaced.


Can one of the electrical gurus here confirm or deny what I've been told?
 

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I don't replace breakers just to replace them. So no. That is not true.

Replacing them because they've become more sensitive due to being tripped a few times, wouldn't be replacing them for no reason. Do you know that is not true, based on some understanding or knowledge of how they work, or are you making an assumption?
 

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Master Electrician
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After you have checked and corrected the short, and made sure everything is in order, you may have to replace the breaker, if what I've been told by a couple of electrician friends is accurate - that breakers get more sensitive (trip at a lower current draw) after every time they are tripped. After after tripping 3 or 4 times (or less), they should be replaced.


Can one of the electrical gurus here confirm or deny what I've been told?
Generally breakers work or they don't. Now what people often refer to as "wearing out" is the tab inside the mechanism gets worn or broken after switching the breaker on an off too many times.

Despite the hackery electrical work in this video, it is pretty good on explaining how a breaker works and you can see one type of the mechanical tabs that I am talking about.


There is no doubt that can be some "fatigue" in the element but the difference in tripping sooner or "getting weak" is not readily seen / measured by the typical user.

Cheers
John
 

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If your only evidence of “they’ve gotten more sensitive” is the immediate situation, then no sale. This is not properly troubleshot yet.

I think you might be referring to my hypothetical (possibly unrelated) query.

I have had breakers that tripped a few times due to overloading a circuit, and then started tripping under lesser loading. After replacing them, I no longer had the problem of them tripping under what I think was the same lesser loading. I don't know if that's what's going on in the OP's situation, which is why I suggested replacing the breaker after the OP "corrected the short, and made sure everything is in order", assuming that I wasn't out in left field with what I seemingly observed in my house and what I was told.
 

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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
......Does the breaker in question have a TEST button?
No, this CB does not have a test button.

I have not yet opened up the range hood and looked for any loose wiring that is occasionally touching but I suspect this is what the immediate problem is.

I'll return with what I find.
 

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What I would do.....
Turn off the breaker and disconnect the range hood completely.
See it the tripping issue goes away.
Of course it is possible that your breaker may be going bad.
But if this just happened when your filter was being replaced that indicates exactly what you should be looking at.
It is usually simpler than you think.
 

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Discussion Starter · #12 · (Edited)
Ok, I pulled the metal range hood filter screen out last night and looked to see what was going on and, just as "chandler48" predicted, I found a crimp connecting 3 wires was bare. I have no idea why the crimp was bare or why it was not held by a clip in a position where it would not make contact with a metal object (like a screen!) but that was the problem. I couldn't get the crimp loose so I just cut it off, restripped 2 of the 3 wires, twisted all 3 wires together and put on a wire nut. Problem solved!

Many, many thanks to everyone who helped me! When this first occurred I had visions of an electrician coming in and telling me things like "Hey, I'm gonna have to rewire your entire house." Call me cynical but I've seen enough in my ongoing home remodel that I have a hard time trusting what many tradesmen say. Attaching pix in an attempt to help others who may not know what a tripped breaker can look like. Second pix is the bare wire crimping.

Thanks again, guys! diychat FTW!
 

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