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rocco

unbreakable circuit???

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i am nearly certain i know the answer to this one, but i will lay it out anyway. it is probably more important to know what to do...

 

i was prepping my attic for insulation this weekend and had several splices that were just made up there and never put in boxes. a previous owner just wire nutted and taped them. there was one splice of three wires that i could not shut off the juice to those wires via any single breaker in the panel. had to shut off power to the panel to kill the wire. :(

 

i am guessing that means i have a short. right?

 

if so, next steps? i guess i could work in reverse, turn all the breakers off then go through one by one to see which breakers liven things up. then, what? try to trace those two wires through the house and find the fault?

 

thanks in advance, i am willing to learn this electrical stuff, but it would be great to hear i am on the right track or off in the weeds entirely. not interested in getting bit either.

 

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the first thing i would do is replace the breaker in question, if thats the problem you got off easy. worse case scenario, your electric panel is busted. the problem is probably somewhere in between :)

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thanks, gobigblue, that makes sense.

 

i guess that would also mean that if i turn off all the breakers, not the power to the panel, and i still have a live wire, then it is most likely the breaker. :)

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if the breaker that killed the power was the main breaker IN the panel it sounds like one of you smaller breakers are bad.

 

if you have a meter open the panel and check each breaker after shutting them off and see if one is still feeding power.

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It could be the breaker but a more common problem is that the circuit is double fed due to being junctioned with hot leads in more than one place. To test for this, shut all your individual breakers and the turn on only one and check for power coming back on another circuit by running all the wires with an inductance pen. Do this to each circuit one at a time to see if any are double fed.


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hwsmike, its 3 separate wires and one splice joining all three together.

 

speed, no subpanels that i know of and i'm pretty confident there are none hiding anywhere either.

 

epanzella, i actually think what you are saying makes sense, which might mean i am learning something. :D is it bad to be double fed? it sounds better than a short in an unknown place to me.

 

ted527, i don't have a meter, besides the one on the outside of the house lolz. just a tick trace. i turned off the power at the panel. it was the main switch that allows the power to flow from the service to breakers if that makes sense to you.

 

thanks a lot gentleman.

 

 

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i am nearly certain i know the answer to this one, but i will lay it out anyway. it is probably more important to know what to do...

i was prepping my attic for insulation this weekend and had several splices that were just made up there and never put in boxes. a previous owner just wire nutted and taped them. there was one splice of three wires that i could not shut off the juice to those wires via any single breaker in the panel. had to shut off power to the panel to kill the wire. :(

i am guessing that means i have a short. right?

if so, next steps? i guess i could work in reverse, turn all the breakers off then go through one by one to see which breakers liven things up. then, what? try to trace those two wires through the house and find the fault?

thanks in advance, i am willing to learn this electrical stuff, but it would be great to hear i am on the right track or off in the weeds entirely. not interested in getting bit either.

 

If you measure the voltage on the wires you might find;

 

one 115VAC red or black or blue wire

 

one 115VAC neutral or white wire

 

a second 115VAC wire.

 

I suspect you found a 3 wire circuit consisting of black 115VAC a red 115VAC plus a white neutral wire.

 

That would require 2 breakers to turn power off to it.

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rocco View Post

 

.

 

epanzella, i actually think what you are saying makes sense, which might mean i am learning something. biggrin.gif is it bad to be double fed? it sounds better than a short in an unknown place to me.

 

.

 

 

 

Yes it's bad to double feed a circuit. Although everything appears to be working properly, there are two hidden dangers. First is the one you've already discovered. The second is when double fed, you're not getting the fire protection from your circuit breakers that you think you're getting. If you have a circuit fed by a wire that can carry 15 amps, the wire will never catch fire because the breaker will trip when the current flow exceeds that value. When double fed, 15 amps will no longer trip that 15 amp breaker because the current is being supplied by two breakers with a cumulative rating of 30 or 35 amps. (2x15A or 15A + 20A). The bottom line is that when double fed you can exceed the current carrying capacity of your wiring without tripping the breaker, a fire in progress. If you do detemine you're double fed, obviously start your search with the work that the previous owner did because he sounds like a hack. If you open a splice and both sides are still hot, this is likely the trouble spot.

 

 

 

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:read: awesome explanations and help guys. i will do some homework and get back up there this weekend. sound like a trip to homies for a voltmeter would help. :)

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Quote:

Originally Posted by rocco View Post

 

cwm15.gif awesome explanations and help guys. i will do some homework and get back up there this weekend. sound like a trip to homies for a voltmeter would help. smile.gif

 

Get an inductance pen as well. It looks like a magic marker and is cheap. Whith the pen all you have to do is put the tip near a wire and if it's hot the pen will either light up or beep depending on the model. It works right thru the insulation with no need to disconnect anything. A voltmeter need metal to metal contact so you'll have to patiallly disassemble a splice to read it. You should have both.

 

 

 

 

 

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i have the inductance pen already, i was calling it a "tick trace" very useful item, i wouldn't have had the stones to try anything without it. :o

 

 

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Turn off all of your breakers, separate the splice, turn on the main, turn on one breaker at a time until you get power at your splice, mark that breaker and shut it off again, mark the feed wire at the splice. Continue to turn on one breaker at a time and checking the wires again to see if another breaker sends the splice power. See what you come up with.

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You have to be careful with the tracer pen. If you have an issue with your neutral, it will sing before you get close to the wire cluster. Let us know how ya do!

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