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Joined: Mar 2001
Posts: 2,056
Redsy Offline OP
I got 2 calls yesterday about 120 volt, 15 amp branch circuit breakers not resetting.
One followed high winds and briefly flickering lights, the other followed a brief power failure dueing the same high winds.
I got to the first one and found that a short circuit or ground fault appears to be on the branch circuit.
I unplugged all equipment and opened all switches, but the fault still remains.
I fear that I will find the same thing when I investigate the second call.
I'm puzzled as to how wind, or a power failure outside could cause a fault on the interior branch wiring.

I appreciate any input!

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 5,392
i always think about the amount of punch that is introduced via downed wires ...

Joined: Oct 2003
Posts: 6
Junior Member
did you replace the breaker just to see if it was just not relatching?

Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 4,065
Likes: 3

Maybe there's something outside on that circuit too - a Fixture, etc. I've had many situations that were puzzling at first, but after a methodical dissection of the circuit a 'simple' answer was always found.

Sometimes the simple solution involves not assuming facts not in evidence. Unless it's something obvious ignore the wind as coincidental and start there.

Let us know what it was.


Joined: Oct 2001
Posts: 597

I agree with Bill. The customer observed correlation to wind and flicker is probably a red herring. . .but may have a kernel of information in it.

I take all the information that a customer can give and add it to the hopper that holds all known information. This will at least help me to start looking in a specific place.

With the isolation work out of the way, and the short still present, then breaking up the circuit into smaller parts, if at all possible, will further localize the area that will get close scrutany. I suggest following the circuit out of the breaker to any j-boxes and seperating the hots.

I've always liked ones like this. The problem, often, has an interesting story surrounding it.

Al Hildenbrand
Joined: Oct 2000
Posts: 4,065
Likes: 3
I'd suggest breaking up the circuit as Al suggests too. With the wire off the breaker I'd look for something in the middle to separate and retest both halves then split again, etc. Eventually you'll get there and it'll probably be something simple.


Joined: Aug 2001
Posts: 7,520
I'd go along with these comments. The "divide and conquer" approach to localizing the fault usually works in the end.

Maybe there's another outlet somewhere that you haven't found yet feeding a device which has shorted out due to transients during the storm?

Joined: Nov 2003
Posts: 269
Last week a customer has an entire receptacle circuit quit when she bumps the wall with a vacuum cleaner. Found the problem one floor up. Neutral wire backstabbed in a receptacle was loose. Co-incidence? I don't know.


Joined: Jul 2003
Posts: 394
One thing to consider. In high winds, houses tend to shake and vibrate quite a bit. I think there is a chance you'll find a loose wire or maybe even a shorted staple.

Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 241
SJT Offline
With all the situations regarding trouble shooting in residential, the staple nailed too hard into the cable, I've yet to find. I don't know whether its luck or not. I'm sure, that would be a tough find. I agree to the trouble shooting method, to take a step back and make sure you do have the easy checks out of the way first.

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