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Burning the house down!
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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 16799
Location: Portland, OR

11/2/18 11:55 PM

You may well me right there. The hot lead arc may not have involved the ground at all, plastic box [no arc to metal box / ground] etc. So I have to take back what I said thinking about it.

Thus I removed from my previous message "That would have tripped a GFI most likely, if not for certain."

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6442
Location: Westchester/NYC

11/3/18 5:07 AM

“have you test tripped the breaker yet? ”

How do you test a circuit breaker? (no test button)

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Steve B.
Joined: 19 Jan 2004
Posts: 703
Location: Long Island, NY

11/3/18 7:47 AM

To test if a breaker will trip under a load.

Somewhat tongue-in-cheek

Disconnect a hot wire from a terminal on a receptacle. Using a set of insulated linemans pliers or similar tool maybe wearing gloves and a set of safety glasses, grasp the hot wire and dead short it to the grounding wire. Wire should spark, you'll probably hear a big loud "Dizzed" sound. Go check the breaker, should be in the tripped position, which is halfway from on to off.

Note that if the hot doesn't short to ground, it means the grounding wire is not working. Try to neutral next.

BIG NOTE, don't have anything plugged into this circuit while trying this, electronic things don't like 120v up the neutral.

Not for the faint of heart but this is how I've seen it done by some trade electricians trying to locate the breaker to a circuit. The concept of using a trace kit didn't occur to them.


Last edited by Steve B. on 11/3/18 10:02 AM; edited 1 time in total

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6442
Location: Westchester/NYC

11/3/18 10:01 AM

“Not for the faint of heart ”

Actually shorting it? Wow! If the breaker is working, it “a spark”. If it’s not working, it’s a lot of sparks!

I don’t feel like doing that. I’m “faint of heart “

I thought there must be testing apparatus out there?

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 16799
Location: Portland, OR

11/3/18 11:52 AM

If it is a 15 amp, I guess you could plug two 15 amp heaters into plugs in the circuit and this 'should' do it pretty quick.

Or one heater and a microwave. Ours is 1200 watts.

I'd pick the first two plugs closest to the breaker.

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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 3223
Location: Springfield

11/3/18 1:47 PM

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKAPpxK5T2E - Circuit breaker -Not comprehensive at all, but it will help you make a decision. It also explains (not demonstrates) how a tripped breaker looks.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b6ilpnbWt_I - Outlets

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCvac7c_XwhBarF5ZnJanBsA/videos - All 5 of his videos

Get one of those outlet testers like you see plugged in at 1:07 of the first link.

Please don't just short it out. He was serious when he said he was kidding.

Vacuum cleaners boast how many amps they draw and they're easy to move, maybe a microwave is more difficult to test with, your call.

The video shows how to flip the breaker, do that a couple of times in case there's corrosion. IIRC someone suggested an annual "tour de breaker box" toggling of the breakers to include in your maintenance, this suggestion stems from that idea.

Keep asking questions, no one wants you make any smoke, much less for you to burn your house down

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 16799
Location: Portland, OR

11/3/18 3:08 PM

"maybe a microwave is more difficult to test with"

I did not think I had to ask if an extension cord was available. But of course I have a ton of HD ones, and I guess not every one does. ;)

Moving a coffee maker might be easier. Other things easy to load the circuit are blow dryer, curling iron, clothes iron, George Foreman grill, toaster oven yada...

If your fridge is close to a plug on the circuit and the plug reaches, Portable air conditioner, and heaters as mentioned. etc.

My electric leaf blower needs a 12 ga. extension cord and draws 12 amp for example. I have a 100 foot 12/3 ga. HD extension chord I hate to unwrap/wrap that weights a ton, yada.


Last edited by Sparky on 11/3/18 3:54 PM; edited 1 time in total

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daddy-o
Joined: 12 Apr 2004
Posts: 3223
Location: Springfield

11/3/18 3:52 PM

🤣🤣👍👍

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dan emery
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 6047
Location: Maine

11/3/18 4:29 PM

Testing protocols

Local fire departments need to be tested. Maybe we should set our houses on fire and see how they do.

April, get a freakin' electrician.

I'm tired of power outages and will be hardwiring a generator into the circuit box. I think I'll do it DIY. Not.

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Steve B.
Joined: 19 Jan 2004
Posts: 703
Location: Long Island, NY

11/3/18 5:35 PM

I have never, in 43 years as an entertainment electrician, had the need to ascertain if a circuit breaker was still functional. Thus as I was posting I did some Google’ing for “circuit breaker testers” and found nothing that can actually generate a test load intended to cause the breaker to function as intended. I expect that plugging in 2 or 3 heaters at 1500 watts each, would work. I don’t own any, though.

I was surprised actually, as I have most of the test gear needed to trace circuits to a breaker, as well as determine voltage, amperage, etc..... this is possibly why I’ve seen the short-to-ground method used. I wouldn’t do it, but I suspect that trade electricians who have their hands in panels all day, have less fear of this. Like I said, not for the faint of heart.

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April
Joined: 13 Dec 2003
Posts: 6442
Location: Westchester/NYC

11/3/18 8:02 PM

Dan, thanks for the concern.

I used to work in a lab as a experimental physicist. I wired a lot of equipments. Some of them use 2000 volt — no, that’s no a typo, 3 zeros.

That’s why I said I wouldn’t use the “short circuit” to test the breaker. I had some experience. I actually know a test circuitry that could test that safely. But Dave’s experience seems to indicate bteakers are pretty reliable. So I think I wouldn’t bother.

I’ve seen an electric fire the 1st year working in the lab. A drunk electrician flipped the hot and neutral, and left the ground wire dangling. He was fired the next day. I know thd danger.

I also know what I don’t know, and will not just “try” anything without fully understanding it. I have no intention to burn down the house, much less electricute myself.

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dddd
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3235
Location: NorCal

11/4/18 10:22 AM

I found electricity and machinery fascinating, and was building and improving simple DC electric motors by the age of six or seven.
As curious pre-teens, (me about eight), I with my brother played with 120v short circuits.
I would strip a foot-long length of power cord found in the garage, extract a single strand of copper wire, and then turn off the remote "light" switch to a power receptacle in our bedroom.
The two ends of the foot-long wire were then wedged into the outlet, and we exited the room. One of us would then flip the light switch just inside of the door, exploding the wire with a fireball and a bang.

We ceased our experiments after one such episode resulted in a tripped breaker, with my returning parents wanting to know why the clocks had lost a few minutes (the time it took for us to re-set the breaker).

Then there was the time, perhaps a year or two earlier, that I stuck a kitchen knife into a glowing electric wall heater in the bathroom. The protective grill on the unit was apparently well-grounded...

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 16799
Location: Portland, OR

11/4/18 10:46 AM

Boy genius?


quote:
I found electricity and machinery fascinating, and was building and improving simple DC electric motors by the age of six or seven.



And then there's this:


quote:
I stuck a kitchen knife into a glowing electric wall heater in the bathroom.


[insert nickering Muttley emoto]

Last edited by Sparky on 11/4/18 1:20 PM; edited 1 time in total

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dddd
Joined: 11 Jan 2004
Posts: 3235
Location: NorCal

11/4/18 12:10 PM

Lol'd there.

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Sparky
Joined: 08 Dec 2003
Posts: 16799
Location: Portland, OR

11/4/18 1:21 PM

I figured you'd appreciate a level of irony and attempted humor. ;)

I would not try it with everyone here though... ;)

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