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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all!
I'm having a little debate with my step-father about what to do when a circuit trips.
We have 4 circuit breakers and when one trips, I identify which it is and reset only that one.
Step-dad says it is necessary to flip all breakers even though only one tripped.
Which is correct?

If he is correct shoudn't we at least shut off and unplug the devices that are still powered for safety? I ask because whenever he goes to reset the breaker, he flips all of them without telling anyone and anything that was on gets turned off, computers, tvs, etc.

Thanks!
 

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I=E/R
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Hello all!
I'm having a little debate with my step-father about what to do when a circuit trips.
We have 4 circuit breakers and when one trips, I identify which it is and reset only that one.
Step-dad says it is necessary to flip all breakers even though only one tripped.
Which is correct?

If he is correct shoudn't we at least shut off and unplug the devices that are still powered for safety? I ask because whenever he goes to reset the breaker, he flips all of them without telling anyone and anything that was on gets turned off, computers, tvs, etc.

Thanks!
It doesn't hurt to exercise breakers once in a while but you only have to reset the one that tripped. If you are going to reset an active circuit breaker, yes turn everything off.
But...
If you are having frequent tripping of breakers, you need to find out why:yes:
 

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Master Electrician
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You are correct. More importantly it would be wise to find out WHY you are need to be resetting breakers frequently. Overloaded circuits are not a good thing.
Nevermind................
 

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Why turn everything off when only 1 breaker trips?
I only reset the tripped breaker.
 
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If it is a Multi-wire Branch circuit, both breakers for the circuit should trip, since the handles have to be tied together. In the case that a circuit is blowing, and there is only four breakers, the question that arises, is why only four breakers if it is a modern home with today's technology in it. Also, what is the amperage of the circuit breaker, and how much load is on it.
 

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If it is a Multi-wire Branch circuit, both breakers for the circuit should trip, since the handles have to be tied together.
It's an irrelevant technicality for this discussion, but a handle tie does not create a common trip breaker. Common trip breakers (any multi-pole breaker) are internally connected to ensure that all poles trip simultaneously. A handle tie may result in common trip behavior - it isn't guaranteed. The point is to ensure that both poles must be shut off simultaneously when the breaker is manually actuated for service.
 
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You have to keep in mind, that not always will both breakers trip on a mwbc at the same time, and also people do tend to remove the breaker tie. We do not know if this is a MWBC due to not enough info, so you have to put that in there regarding problems such as the op asked about.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Actually our home is not modern with today's technology, we live in a very old place with older technology.
And we know why it trips; its usually because two large appliances are being run at the same time on the same circuit, along with whatever else is receiving constant electricity. They aren't frequent, its only every few months.

Why we only have 4 breakers and why its happening isn't a mystery to us, it was just wondering whether or not resetting all handles was necessary when you can clearly identify which one tripped and which ones hadn't.

Thanks so much for all the help! :)
 

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If it is a Multi-wire Branch circuit, both breakers for the circuit should trip, since the handles have to be tied together. In the case that a circuit is blowing, and there is only four breakers, the question that arises, is why only four breakers if it is a modern home with today's technology in it. Also, what is the amperage of the circuit breaker, and how much load is on it.
Actually the requirement for listed and approved handle ties or the use of a two (or three) pole breaker was a 2008 NEC code change. Prior to the 2008 NEC the only time a two pole breaker was required was if the both circuits supplied devices on the same yoke. If this house was wired prior to the 2008 NEC and the MWBC does not supply two devices on one yoke, no handle ties are required. The other requirement for MWBC's prior to 2008 is that the removal of a device shall not interupt the grounded circuit conductor. This meant that the neutrals had to be spliced and pigtailed.
 
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Why is it happening, is because you have too many items on the circuits. Your home may be old, but the technology in there is not. When we moved into our home, it had only four circuits for everything, because it was built in 1937. Back then, you had a radio, lights, and outlets in four quadrants. We move in after the fuse panel was replaced (contingent on the sale), I went through and pulled all new wiring for the outlets, and split as much up into separate circuits. In turn brought it up to code. Only time we blow a circuit, it is the 20amp for the counter top microwave & dishwasher, when both are ran at the same time.

Go through and find out what is plugged into each of the four circuits (watts that each uses (nameplate will state, or may have to check out manufacturer info if available for stuff like toaster ovens, toasters). Go and add those numbers up, and post back on here as the following, with what circuit has total watts on it, and amperage listed on the handle of the breaker. If you are able to find out what type of electric wiring, post that also. Then we can better help you to figure this out to make life easier.
 

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electures, we are not talking about the 2008 nec on this. We all know it, but the other person came here to try to figure out why breakers are tripping, not trying to find out the current code, and how to rewire their house. For all we know, this house was built back at turn of the century, and has never been touched since it was built, and may also be a rental.

For now, we are just trying to help them figure out how to stop overloading the circuit, and make things easier.
 

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electures, we are not talking about the 2008 nec on this. We all know it, but the other person came here to try to figure out why breakers are tripping, not trying to find out the current code, and how to rewire their house. For all we know, this house was built back at turn of the century, and has never been touched since it was built, and may also be a rental.

For now, we are just trying to help them figure out how to stop overloading the circuit, and make things easier.
Your statement about handle ties is incorrect. Just trying to offer the correct information. Figured I would use the opportunity to educate other readers of the post. (Must be the teacher in me):yes:
 
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Your statement about handle ties is incorrect. Just trying to offer the correct information. Figured I would use the opportunity to educate other readers of the post. (Must be the teacher in me):yes:
Post a reliable reference for that.

Handle ties are listed for the purpose of simultaneously manually actuating the breaker handles, not to create a common trip breaker. A quick search on Electrician Talk, Mike Holt's forum, and ECN all confirm that this is not only true, but widely known in the industry.

Not only is this both true and well known, it makes sense. All modern molded-case circuit breakers are required to be "trip-free" to obtain a UL listing. This means they will trip even when the handle is held in the "on" position. There is no requirement that the handle move a certain amount, or with a certain force, upon tripping. Thus, handle movement upon tripping cannot be counted on to do anything. Furthermore, turning a breaker off is not the same (internally) as tripping it. The mechanism moves differently, hence the need to cycle the handle to reset. A common trip breaker TRIPS all poles simultaneously, it doesn't trip one and turn the others off.

Handle-tied breakers will usually operate together if one of them trips. This is especially true if the handle tie is very tight and there are only two poles. However, the propensity for a tripped breaker to operate its neighbor depends greatly on the brand of breaker (some move more when tripped, and some are easier to flip off) and how snug the handle tie is. I've seen more instances where three-pole and four-pole handle tie setups (feeds to modular office furniture) fail to trip together than where they do.

And since this is off-topic for this thread, I'm done. But I would be interested to see a reference that refutes my position.
 

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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Again, thanks for the help.

My question was not "why is our circuit tripping?"
It was "Is it necessary that we reset all circuits when only one is tripped?"
The answer is no, you don't have to.

This place used to be a large garage, was turned into a downstairs apartment in the 70s, and hasn't been touched since. I know because my grandfather lived here, then my uncle lived here and now we live here.
My grandfather is a professional handy man and does all the work for the landlords here so we're well informed on the ins and outs of our home.

We know what trips the circuit: the counter microwave and washing machine/dryer being run at the same time.
Only 2 of the 4 circuits actually give us power inside. The other 2 are for lights outside. So we only have so many options for how and where to plug things in at.
I hope this gives you a good picture of what we deal with.
The tripping isn't frequent, we are careful because we know overwattage on a circuit can trip or damage it. Not really a lot we can do about it.
 

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Actually our home is not modern with today's technology, we live in a very old place with older technology.
And we know why it trips; its usually because two large appliances are being run at the same time on the same circuit, along with whatever else is receiving constant electricity. They aren't frequent, its only every few months.

Why we only have 4 breakers and why its happening isn't a mystery to us, it was just wondering whether or not resetting all handles was necessary when you can clearly identify which one tripped and which ones hadn't.

Thanks so much for all the help! :)
To answer your question...resetting the ones that didn't trip is unnecessary.

Be aware though that the more a breaker trips, the more it gets worn out, and will eventually fail. Usually they will trip and no longer reset, but not always. The proper fix is not to always reset it, but to fix the problem that's making it trip in the first place.
 

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...The tripping isn't frequent, we are careful because we know overwattage on a circuit can trip or damage it. Not really a lot we can do about it.
Not true. You can run a new circuit for the laundry or the micro, with its own breaker. If the panel can accept 'tandem/twin' breakers, then it's an easy fix. There's always a way to skin a cat.
 
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