Problem with circuit breaker that keeps tripping

31 Replies

Promotion
Roofstock
Buy & sell single-family rentals online
Radically accessible real estate investing
Get access to exclusive property listings, proprietary data, and support to build your portfolio.
Learn More
Originally posted by @Loren Thomas :

Hi @Kyle J.

If it a faulty GFCI, consider replacing it with a normal outlet and install a GFCI breaker. The cost increase ($10-$15) is worth it in reliability. 

 That cost increase can vary dramatically depending on the brand and model of your load centre / breaker panel.   20amp GFCI breakers can be as much as $75- $80.

Originally posted by @Chad Hovermale :

I think I've read the replies thoroughly enough.  Has nobody said, "Call an electrician.", yet?  Where would the fun be in that, though, right?

Well, there is an electrician already posting in this thread, and I would say that the suggestions from that electrician are just shot-gunning rather than performing a diagnosis. That's my opinion of course ...

So the electrician ends up replacing all sorts of stuff whether or not it was necessary for the fix - and gets paid for all that. No thanks. 

Originally posted by @Roy N.:

That cost increase can vary dramatically depending on the brand and model of your load centre / breaker panel. 20amp GFCI breakers can be as much as $75- $80.

Definitely. I meant it as if it's $10-$15 which it often is, it's worth it.  

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak :
Originally posted by @Chad Hovermale:

I think I've read the replies thoroughly enough. Has nobody said, "Call an electrician.", yet? Where would the fun be in that, though, right?

Well, there is an electrician already posting in this thread, and I would say that the suggestions from that electrician are just shot-gunning rather than performing a diagnosis. That's my opinion of course ...

So the electrician ends up replacing all sorts of stuff whether or not it was necessary for the fix - and gets paid for all that. No thanks.

GFCI's go bad far more often then breakers. Especially a pass and seymore. As an electrician, my experience has taught me how electrical installations normally break down. If your cars headlight went out, would you start troubleshooting the electrical system or buy a new lamp?

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak:

I'm a bit amazed at how many posts here suggest to just start replacing things without even attempting a simple diagnosis first. The simple diagnostic I posted earlier (and that somebody also posted subsequently) would eliminate things from consideration without having to spend on any parts to do so. Once you have it narrowed down a bit, then certain parts become obvious candidates for replacement.

Some people would rather spend $20 on a new GFCI than work inside a live electrical panel.

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak:
Originally posted by @Seth Sherman:

Could be bad breaker, wires touching (bad wire?).

Doesn't even have to be a bad wire. If the GFCI is mounted inside a grounded metal box, those GFCIs are fat enough that the terminals on the sides can touch that metal box if there is any "play" on the screws attaching the GFCI to the box.

It may not be a metal box, a metal box is not required for installation.

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak:

Not exactly s code expert, but I believe that if you have a tamper resistant receptacle and attempt to replace, by code you must replace it with a tamper resistant receptacle.

Read here:

http://diy.stackexchange.com/questions/2514/should...

210.52 (A)(4) exempts counter top outlets from the requirements of 210.52, which your link uses as reason but fails to post the whole article.

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak :
Originally posted by @Kyle J.:

...

What do you guys think is the best starting point?  I was kind of leaning towards starting with replacing the GFCI outlet since that is the first outlet in the series of the 4 outlets.

Or is there another possible solution that I might be overlooking?

You say this is a tandem breaker. So I would start by opening the breaker panel and swapping the wires on that tandem breaker (with breakers in off position). If the original tripping breaker still trips, then you have a bad breaker. If the previously non-tripping breaker now trips, then it is something down the line from the breaker. 

Doing as I suggested causes you to spend nothing while you are troubleshooting via shot-gun techniques. 

Steve - this is a good (free) idea I hadn't originally thought of to try and narrow down the problem.  I just opened up the panel and switched the wires as you suggested.  Now depending on which breaker trips next, I'll have a better idea where the problem might be.  Thanks for the suggestion.

Originally posted by @Steve Babiak :

@Kyle J.- any updates on what you found?

Actually, yes. It took a little longer than before to trip again after I switched the wires as you suggested, but ultimately the same half of double breaker tripped even though it was now tied to some completely different outlets (in the bathroom instead of the kitchen). These other outlets had never had a problem before, so I figured it must be the breaker that was bad. 

I replaced the breaker with a new one and so far it hasn't tripped again. So it looks like the problem has been solved and it only cost me $9 for the new breaker and a little bit of time. 

Thanks again for the great suggestion!

How old is the wiring? There Could be a loose connection, could also be a faulty GFCI. If you trip the GFCI do the other outlets lose power like they should?

If it a faulty GFCI, consider replacing it with a normal outlet and install a GFCI breaker.

If its an older electrical panel, it could be the breaker, although modern breakers go bad on rare occasions as well.

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you