breaker off but lights are still on

Status
Not open for further replies.

dferrara

Member
Location
Missouri
i have a customer who said his breaker tripped but his lights are still on. he moved the wire to a different breaker and it did the same thing. he said when he pulled the wire from the breaker the lights did go out. could the neutral bar be hot?
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
Re: breaker off but lights are still on

Perhaps the customer did not explain the circumstances very clearly to you, but your explanation is certainly not clear. I would ask a number of questions of this customer:
</font>
  • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">How did this situation first make itself known to you? What I mean is, if the lights did not go out, how did you become aware that a breaker had tripped?</font>
<font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"></font>
  • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Was there any work done recently on the home wiring? This includes new breakers, new circuits, moving circuits to different breakers, adding lights or receptacles, or replacing anything.</font>
<font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"></font>
  • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">When you say that you moved this circuit to another breaker, how did you dot that? Was there a spare breaker, or did you swap the wires on two breakers?</font>
<font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"></font>
  • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">I presume (or I hope) that as you moved the wire to a different breaker, the breaker was turned off. Then, when you turned the breaker on, did it trip right away?</font>
<font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif"></font>
  • <font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">Were the lights off when the wire was disconnected, and did they come back on when you snapped the breaker back in (i.e., before you even turned on the breaker)?</font>
<font size="2" face="Verdana, Helvetica, sans-serif">That is just off the top of my head. I'd have a bunch of other questions.
 

roger

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Fl
Occupation
Electrician
Re: breaker off but lights are still on

Wait a minute, this is 8/15/05 not 4/01/05.

I agree with Jim on the beers, but I think the customer may have already had 6 or 24. ;)

Roger
 

charlie b

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Seattle, WA
Occupation
Electrical Engineer
Re: breaker off but lights are still on

I think the customer is a "DIY." You know, "Destroy It Yourself." :D

Tell you what: I'll buy youse guys a couple beers, and youse guys buy me a couple "Makers Mark on the Rocks," and we'll be ready to solve all of this customer's problems.
 

jimwalker

Senior Member
Location
TAMPA FLORIDA
Re: breaker off but lights are still on

Only way it could happen the way he told it is to have a shorted breaker.If removing the wire from an off breaker kills the light the breaker is shorted.Tell customer to put the bottle down and try again in the morning,hick! ;)
 

roger

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Fl
Occupation
Electrician
Re: breaker off but lights are still on

Charlie,
Originally posted by charlie b:
I think the customer is a "DIY." You know, "Destroy It Yourself." :)

Roger
 

George Stolz

Moderator
Staff member
Location
Windsor, CO NEC: 2017
Occupation
Service Manager
Re: breaker off but lights are still on

Originally posted by dferrara:
i have a customer who said his breaker tripped but his lights are still on. he moved the wire to a different breaker and it did the same thing. he said when he pulled the wire from the breaker the lights did go out. could the neutral bar be hot?
Could the breaker have...er...broken in the "closed" position?

Or is the light on a different circuit?

I need beer. :D
 
Re: breaker off but lights are still on

I think your customers lights are on, but no one is home. :) Gee, I wonder what will happen if I do this? If all else fails, call an electrician. If you are the electrician, proceed with caution an amateur may have set a trap for you.
 

dillon3c

Senior Member
Re: breaker off but lights are still on

deferrar,
You never added in your post,where this might be a dwelling or commercial building wiring.Believe it or not,might could have been helpful in this trouble shooting analysis.More info was needed on the part of customer,to you,to us.

In my opinion,
Just one of the things I'd check (maybe not the first),go to your Grounded Conductor bar(*neutral bar)
*unhook and *rehook grounded (*neutral)conductor branch wires(one at a time)...

I suspect this may narrow it down, to the culprit.

*It ain't of the supernatural..
 

GENEM

Member
Re: breaker off but lights are still on

I had a similar incident in a commercial building where someone had tied two circuits together--one was tripping the other was not. I found it because the wire coming into the tripped breaker was hot!!! I found in a j box where it looked like it had been tied together for some time so the problem had been there but the customer did not notice it until he was resetting a different breaker and that one kept tripping as soon as it was reset.
 

milwaukeesteve

Senior Member
Location
Milwaukee, WI
Re: breaker off but lights are still on

I would not go moving wires around in the panel like that. If the circuit is tied with another circuit downstream, find out what that circuit is first.
Turn off the original circuit, then if lights are on, turn off breakers until you find the one that is keeping those lights on. If then you turn on the original(while the other is off) and the lights don't even come on, then you have a miss marked breaker. If the lights come on again with only the original breaker, then there are two circuits tied together. Now you can start troubleshooting those two circuits to look for the problem.

However, if you start putting the circuits on different breakers and you get a different phase from the original, then you could have a direct phase to phase short, or possible 240V across some loads instead of 120V.
 

dillon3c

Senior Member
Re: breaker off but lights are still on

Originally posted by milwaukeesteve:
If then you turn on the original(while the other is off) and the lights don't even come on, then you have a miss marked breaker. If the lights come on again with only the original breaker, then there are two circuits tied together. Now you can start troubleshooting those two circuits to look for the problem.
-------------------------------------------------

Steve,
Breaker,or circuit is not miss-indentified,circuit(lighting and breaker),is known.Yep,sure your way will work turning off the breakers.

And yes more than likely, is two circuits tied together.But Steve,I'm going to be giving a tugg on every circuit branch wire,including the branch grounded conductors "one at a time", at each terminals anyway. I will be giving a twist with the screwdriver making sure connections landed, are snugg while I'm there looking into this panel.
-------------------------------------------------- *However, if you start putting the circuits on different breakers and you get a different phase from the original, then you could have a direct phase to phase short, or possible 240V across some loads instead of 120V.
*But I never said this,putting circuits on differant breakers..

Edited..this post,didn't lay-out right.Hope it can be read.

[ August 16, 2005, 06:21 PM: Message edited by: dillon3c ]
 
Status
Not open for further replies.
Top