Light switch trips breakers at random, but never itself


I recently installed a monorail lighting kit in my home office; I wanted another spot-light which meant I need to swap out the included transformer to something that would allow more than 100 watts.

I now have the issue of random breakers tripping. When this light is turned on. (I did not have this problem w/ the original transformer)

It seems that when my closet light in my bedroom (on a different circuit) is turned on; and my new office light is turned on, my bedroom circuit is blown 100% of the time.

Here's the weird part. I can have my master bedroom light on or my master bathroom light on and all is well. The instant I turn my master closet light on the whole bedroom circuit fails. Not only that, it will sometimes trip other random breakers, like the washing machine breaker ..or the downstairs kitchenette breaker. I have two breaker boxes, my master bed circuit resides in box 1.. but can somehow trip a breaker in box 2.

As far as my home-office...

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More than likely the problem is in the fixture that went out first. It could also be a problem with the switch itself or possibly damage to the wires from the switch to the lights.

With the breaker off, open the fixtures and inspect them for obvious damage/burns. If you don't see any damage, disconnect the feed (with the breaker OFF) and make the bare ends safe by putting the connectors back on the wires (the feed will come to one light and then a black & a white wire will connect to the second light). With the feed DISCONNECTED from the light and the switch OFF, turn the breaker ON making sure you stand clear of the breaker as it may pop instantly. If you have fuses take the same precaution (doesn't hurt to wear a glove - and DON'T look at the breaker as you turn it on!). Now with the breaker on turn the light switch on. Did the breaker trip? If not, then the problem is with one of the fixtures. Since the fixtures are old, I would replace both of them (a new 4' fixture isn't more...

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Actual average current draw will ramp up slowly, but I was under the impression there is still the brief spike while the ballast is energized, or possibly when the bulb actually strikes the arc. Cheap electronic ones could be seeing a large spike as they charge up capacitors internally as well I would think.

As for the original poster and his tripping breaker, I know here in Canada we're only allowed to load our breakers to 80% of their rating (I'm an electrician, so I'm talking about electrical code, not everyday people just plugging things in) so you don't have this sort of problem. But if you are saying that your 1200 Watt lamp is drawing 14amps at 120v, then you've got some large inefficiencies there. Most of the time I see things like 400W HID fixtures rated at something like 465W (on the labels). Scaling that to a 1200Watt fixture, you should still only be drawing around 11.6amps... not 14. Usually my fluke clamp on meter doesn't even show the rated numbers, its...

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Find the main circuit breaker box. Some homes may have 1 large main breaker box as well as smaller branch breaker boxes.


Locate the defective breaker.

A tripped breaker is halfway between the on and off position.

Before assuming a circuit breaker needs to be replaced, try resetting the breaker by turning off all lights and unplugging all devices on that circuit. Then turn the back to the on position. Some breakers must be turned all the way off before they can be turned back on. Test the circuit breaker by turning on the breaker, and then add the devices 1 at a time. If the light or device becomes operable, then a voltage tester is not needed.


Use a voltage tester to see if power is going out through the wire attached to the breaker.


Turn off the branch breaker boxes, followed by the main power.This should be the large flip switch located above or below all the other smaller ones. It should also be labeled "main" or...
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Electrical circuit breaker keep tripping. A few of my circuit breakers are turning off daily. I have to constantly flip them back to ON. What would cause this? I just moved into an older house and the breakers are old. The breakers in the electrical breaker box are NOT labelled. I am thinking there is a problem with my homes electrical wiring system. I am worried something will overheat and may cause a fire. I have been unplugging things and using less electricity to try and be safe. Is there something that I should test, check, or troubleshoot? How do I isolate which appliance or wiring issue is causing my electrical problem?

What To Do If A Breaker Keeps Tripping In Your Home

A circuit breaker trips off the electrical power flow to protect the circuit from overheating and causing any damage. Find out what appliance (such as the washer or dryer) that flips the breaker off. Take note as to what you are using when the breaker turns off and that should be your...

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Agree with petey, unless you have been nailing something to the wall or ceiling, nails are not likely to be involved. I have experienced HOT NAILS. They went thru one wire and did not cause any breaker poppage. When you touched the nail it was quite a thrill though.

I would start by taking the switch plate off, (NOT the switch) and with a handy flashlight inspect for any wire touching the side of the box or other wires. Then if you seen nothing out of the ordinary replace the plate and flip the switch or manually flip the breaker. Is the light just a light or is it a ceiling fan? Fans can vibrate connections loose and cause this problem. If you know how, remove the cover and look in the ceiling box, With the info you have given you should find the problem in one of these two places. If this is getting into unfamiliar territory for you, CALL AN ELECTRICIAN, , it's not worth the shocks you could receive, just to save a few...

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When all the lights and appliances along a single circuit go dark at the same time, it is almost always because the circuit breaker or fuse controlling that circuit has tripped or burned out. In older homes, the electrical service panel will have a group of fuses that control and protect the circuits, but it is more likely that your home has an electrical service panel with a series of lever-operated circuit breakers that control the circuits. Whatever the nature of your service panel, the... breakers or fuses serve to automatically shut off power to the circuit wires if something goes wrong. In the case of circuit breakers, the immediate answer is to find the breaker that has "tripped" and reset the lever to the ON position. With a fuse, a metal filament inside the fuse has burned through, and you'll need to replace the fuse with a new one....

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Ground Fault ???

Troubleshooting Ground Fault

Troubleshooting a ground fault circuit interrupt, or GFI, breaker is pretty straightforward. Troubleshooting the circuit itself can be quite time-consuming.
The GFI breaker is designed with a test button incorporated into the breaker itself.
Pushing the test button should trip the breaker.
On GFI-style breakers the neutral wire going into the house's outlets is connected to the breaker's neutral connector, the white neutral that comes out of the breaker is connected to the neutral bus in the panel, isolating the neutral bus from the neutral wire going into the house.
The test button actually shorts the neutral wire feeding the circuit to the neutral bus in the electrical panel creating a ground fault that should trip the breaker.
It is considered a ground fault because the neutral bus in the main electrical panel is actually connected to the ground bus through the panel's metal casing. What to...

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Here I intend to give clear information on a number of basic house wiring issues that may be unfamiliar or confusing to the do-it-yourselfer. These certainly don't cover everything you might want to know. In what I say I am careful to qualify my statements if they have exceptions, using words like "usually" or "typically." If a practice is specified by the National Electrical Code I will tend to indicate this by "is to be," "should," or "must," and I won't talk that way if the matter is just common practice.

For problems with existing wiring, circuits, and connections, be sure to see my Main page. For issues about some particular appliances see this. To understand electrical terms see the Glossary. For wire ampacity and conduit capacity see SparkyJohn.

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Main panel

Romex cables. Your wiring could be done with a conduit system or metal-sheathed cables, but in most places...

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The moving parts of a standard light switch are enclosed inside plastic casing, so when the switch goes bad, your only option is to replace it. That isn't a great hardship, because switches are inexpensive. Before you shop for a new one, however, you need to know whether the fault is with the switch itself or the wiring. There may be a loose terminal connection on the switch or a tripped GFI outlet on the same circuit as the switch and the light it controls. Protect yourself by ensuring the wires to the switch are dead before you service it.

Note the symptoms of the faulty switch. If the light flickers or shines dimly, there is probably a loose connection on the switch or inside it. If the lights don't come on at all, however, the circuit power may be off. Make sure the breaker controlling the switch is on, then look around the house for tripped GFI outlets and reset any you find. This simple procedure may solve the problem.

Turn off the breaker and unscrew the cover...

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Tell them your price cause your ready to fix it. That's all you need to say, next

Then this is when you ask the patron what music they like and play a radio and ID the circuit. every other circuit is off.
Draw a napkin sketch.

You could also use a fox and hound which will cause static on a radio, OK my type of equipment does.

This is exactly where you could insert a AFCI and confirm the other statements, go no go.

Then a Meggar would then work well for you, work everything off the circuit breaker. circuit to Breaker is disconnected. I'd Half the circuit and use this test going out on that amount of the circuit. Then reattach breaker you could test load, hair drier - that part of circuit. This will help qualify the insulation going out and QA breaker is doing what it suppose too. Move forward!

MY call you'll find it pinched or worked from being on or around other piping, then it a device that's loose or tired, even
a staple which will not get...

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This is very interesting to read for me, because I have a similar situation:

a unit that controls a light and also the ceiling fan in the same fixture. The unit has 4 buttons: 3 ceiling fan controls and one light control.

There are three buttons for the ceiling fan: high, medium, low.

For the light switch, you can either press the light button to turn on/off, or else you can keep your finger on the light button to have it go from dim to bright and vice-versa.

Sometimes I will be sitting in the room and the ceiling fan will come on by itself. I have the same system in two rooms and it only seems to happen in one room, and only in the summer. This is the room that gets the warmest because of the way the windows face. Could it also be because of voltage...

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Yes Ron, it is.

You can force that situation by slightly bouncing the hot lamp exactly at the moment when switching off. The red hot wire will break and leave a microscopic small gap between the two parts. (Visible only with 100X magnification)

When you switch on the (cold) lamp again the two ends of the broken filament will be close enough to try arc welding together. That's exactly the moment when the current increases drastically. The overall length of the filament is shortened by this process and the welding point is a heavy bead. Since the filament is still cold the resistance is low this is an additional aid for a nice short. It makes the lamp burn up internally and the CB trip.

I'm sure you can find movies about that at OSRAM or PHILIPS, more likely at OSRAM.

Have you noticed that filament type lamps always burn up when switching them on? Vibration caused by a passing truck is enough for the destructive work.

BTW and just for info: Some decades...

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Originally posted by @John Teachout :

I think you should start at the source and work towards the end.

Switch the breaker that is tripping with one in the box that's the same size and see if the problem moves. (No cost to do this, just some time)

If the problem persists, get one of the outlet testers that plugs into an outlet and indicates problems with the outlet. This may show a dropped ground or whatever. I am thinking if the GFCI was bad it would trip itself, not the circuit box breaker.

Are you sure that the circuit only feeds the kitchen outlets and not something else? ie, attic vent fan, outside outlet, porch light, etc?

Does the breaker ever trip with the Keurig not plugged in? What about if it's plugged into a different outlet somewhere else in the house?

If a wire is shorted, it will trip the breaker immediately and repeatedly. So if it's not a bad breaker it would appear you have an intermittent high load.

I did test all four...

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My circuit breaker won’t reset. What is the problem? What can I check for? This is one of the most common issues that can happen within the home’s electrical system.

There can be several reasons that a circuit breaker won’t reset. First we must look at the function of the circuit breaker. A circuit breaker is designed to limit the current on a circuit to the rated level (measured in amperage) for which it, and the circuit is designed to operate at. A breaker is also designed to trip on a sudden and extremely high flow of current (short circuit) condition.

Here are the most common reasons why a circuit breaker won’t reset:

1. Are you taking the proper steps to attempt to reset the breaker? You must push the breaker handle firmly and fully to the off position, and then back to on.
2. An overloaded circuit. If the circuit breaker trips, and won’t reset immediately, but after a cool down period it can be reset, then trips again after a few minutes, then the...

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There will be three wires: one black, one white, and a separate ground wire that may be bare copper or is sometimes wrapped in green. Inspect the quality of the wires. If any of the wires seem weakened, trim and re-strip the end of the wire to meet your needs.

Identify the three different colored wires, and attach the new light switch to the wires in the same way they had been attached to the old switch. If your wires are solid copper, create a loop in the end of the wire with the pliers and guide it around the screw on the side of the switch. Tighten the screw, ensuring that the wire is securely held beneath the screw and is not splaying to the perimeter of the screw. If your wall wire is composed of a group of smaller wires, use the pliers to gently twist the ends of the wires together to make them “whole,” and then follow the same...

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Re: tripping breaker update 1

Standard 20A non GFI Bulldog Pushmatic.
The feed goes out of the panel, to a junction box with a pullchain
light on it.
From there, it goes out to only two branches. One is an outlet, and the
other is just some lights in the basement (all octagon boxes with
porcelain fixtures on them).

The breaker will hold anywhere from 2 to 12 hours (approximately).
Usually, it holds for 6-8 hours.

When it trips, there is no way I can see to "reset" these like
a "normal" breaker( i.e. a Square D, where you switch it all the
way to the "off" position, and then turn it "on").
These are just push on, push off devices. The only thing you can
do is "push" it, and it clicks on (and "on" shows in the little

If there is some special way I'm supposed to reset these, I'd sure like
to know about it.

Yes, while it's on, I definitely have tried pulling on things to see if
I could...

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Hello. I need help trying to figure out a "no power situation" to some basic 120 volt outlets. Here's the scenario:

First of all I am a jack of all trades (expert in none) handyman. Customer complained of two bedrooms without power that just went out. He had plugged in space heaters in each room and one day all sockets went dead. Ugh duh. The circuit breaker tripped and even when he reset it, the outlets still had no power. I spent a lot of time running some diagnostics...

1. There are three outlets in each (upstairs) room that are not working. There are two switches in each room that control one of the outlets in the respective rooms (the controlled outlets are not split, btw.)

2. There are no GFICs anywhere in the upstairs living quarters (bathrooms, etc.)

3. I tested both "light" switches for continuity and they are fine.

4. I opened all six outlets and found the sockets of the power outlet (hot, neutral, ground) all had good continuity to the wires...

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Answer for USA, Canada and countries using similar 60Hz household electricity supplie Ok, lets assume that these are not newly installed lights or lights added to this already existing circuit first what type of lights are they? the reason I asked is because if they are fluorescent lights it could be a faulty ballast. if it's regular light bulbs then they are several things to look for. how many lights on this breaker? have you placed a higher wattage bulb in these lights than recommended? what is your combined wattage? a 15 amp breaker is rated to supply power safely up to a maximum of 1440 watts. add up the wattage of each light bulb including any outside flood lights or outlets also on this circuit. If the the total is under 1440 watts then first replace the breaker with the same wattage rating then turn each light one at a time and wait to see if the breaker trips again. If it does, check the last light you switched on.

Answer for USA:

Never load a breaker to its...

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PM contributor Pat Porzio is a mechanical engineer, an electrical contractor and a master plumber, so when his Blackberry's "Aqualung" ringtone sounds, the call could be about any kind of mechanical problem. Still, he was surprised when he answered the call on Dec. 29th. It was his wife, and there was this urgent tone in her voice. Her brother's house was on fire, she said--apparently a switch on an electrical baseboard heater had blown apart.

The trouble started when Pat's sister-in-law, Barbara, in the nearby town of West Milford, N.J., had a circuit breaker trip. She reset it, but it tripped again. She looked around the room served by the breaker and unplugged a few things. Then she tried the breaker again. Several more times, in fact. Finally, it reset. At least it held long enough for her to return to the living room to find sparks flying from behind a burning...

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