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Thread: Breaker won't reset

  1. #1
    rob278 is offline New Member
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    Breaker won't reset


    One of my breakers tripped when I tried to run a vacuum cleaner. I've switched it all the way off and on dozens of times, but it never 'locks' in the on position. Actually it did once after several attempts but then a couple of hours later I realized that some outlets on the circuit still weren't working, so I tried to flip the breaker again, but again the switch won't stay in the on position. I've flipped the main breaker and the other switches on the panel but I am still having no luck closing this one particular switch. Any thoughts??

    Thanks,
    Rob

  2. #2
    dev 65 is offline Handyman
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    Rob, try switching the breaker with another one in the panel. if the known good one doesn't reset then there is probably a short in the wiring. if this is the case check the outlets for good connections. Ensure the wires are on the screws of the outlet and not sticking in the hole in the back. If the breaker resets with no problem replace the original suspect breaker.

  3. #3
    rob278 is offline New Member
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    I flipped all my breakers off including my main one, then I was able to flip the offending breaker back on. Thanks so much for your feedback. This weekend I will check some suspect outlets for shorts as you advised. The funny thing is when I plugged a surge protector that was originally in the outlet that didn't work into another outlet to test it there was a spark and another breaker went but the offending outlet started working again. Needless to say I threw out the surge protector, do I need to further test the wiring. All of my outlets work now but that behavior seems suspicious.

    Thanks,
    Rob

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    dev 65 is offline Handyman
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    Rob, even though the breaker was able to reset I would pull it out and see if there are signs of arcing on the clips on the back side, also check the bus bar that it is attached to for signs of pitting or arcing. If I were you I would pull the outlets out to see if the wires are stuck in the back holes of the outlet or are they wrapped around the screws on the side. check for tight connections on the wire nuts and proper grounding. Good luck ,let me know what you find.[8D]

  5. #5
    VR6
    VR6 is offline New Member
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    why don't we want to use the holes in the back of the outlet?

    Thanks,
    VR6

  6. #6
    kactuskid's Avatar
    kactuskid is offline Master Journeyman
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    Using the small holes (backstabbing) is the cause of alot of problems, wires become loose and connections are lost. Always wrap the wires around the side screws to ensure a proper tight connections. Here's a link that'll give you some details:
    http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/know...098-9,00.html#

  7. #7
    VR6
    VR6 is offline New Member
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    DAMN! i just rewired almost my entire house 'backstabbing' the outlets!!! although they were pretty tight, i had to use a pair of plyers to force the wire into the hole...

    anyways, i have a similar breaker problem as ROB...the other day i noticed my cordless phone wasn't working...turns out the the outlet was out and that turned out to be a breaker that's been tripped...

    it won't let me reset it and i've unplugged all the things that were plugged into that circuit...i'm going to try the turning off of other breakers in the panel to see if that works...

    are there any other suggestions? possible causes?

    Thanks,
    VR6

  8. #8
    kactuskid's Avatar
    kactuskid is offline Master Journeyman
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    Those backstabbed outlets may be the source of your problem, they're bad news and I wish the manufactures wouldn't even put them in. It sounds like the reason your breaker is tripped is because you have a direct short to ground somewhere on that circuit. You need to open up each device on that circuit and check for a loose wire or short to ground, start by moving the wires from the holes to the sides of those receptacles. There's a hole just below where the wire goes in on the back, this is a release hole, poke a small screwdriver or awl into the hole and pull out the wire at the same time.

    If this is an older home and your wires are brittle and insulation is crumbling off, then instead of wiring on the sides of the screws you can buy a different outlet that's better. These outlets are sold at Home Depot and they're commercial grade. They have holes in the back, but the wires are secured with a clamp by screwing down on the screw. They're called Backwired receptacles. Not to confuse with backstabbed. The following link will show you what I mean, go to page 3 and 4. The one's on the link are hospital grade, but are the same as the commercial grade ones I'm referring to
    http://www.state-elec.com/Leviton/indreceptacles.pdf

    They cost more but make life lots easier and faster installation. Believe me, those backstabbed ones you have now will cause you lots of grief to come.

  9. #9
    PhillyVolt is offline New Member
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    I agree kactuskid!
    Imagine holding a rope with your hand....now picture holding that same rope between your thumb and index fingernails!
    Which do you think would be a better connection?

  10. #10
    VR6
    VR6 is offline New Member
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    turns out my problem was caused by a short circuit on one of the outlets...i guess a hot or neutral wire was touching the metal box!

    i had to pay for that information!

    Thanks,
    VR6

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