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Overload - on purpose #70161 09/30/06 03:58 PM
Joined: Apr 2005
Posts: 197
LearJet9 Offline OP
I have seen it done many times and have done it myself. Can't find the C/B that controls the circuit your looking for, take a short pc of #12 and make a short circuit device!! Is there a device (inexpensive) that one can plug in to overload a 15A or 20A ckt to the point the C/B trips??

[This message has been edited by LearJet9 (edited 09-30-2006).]

Work Gear for Electricians and the Trades
Re: Overload - on purpose #70162 09/30/06 04:08 PM
Joined: Jul 2002
Posts: 8,379
Trumpy Offline
I used to have an apprentice that used to use a pre-shorted plug that he used to plug in to trip the CB.
One day he took out the whole house when he never checked the switchboard and it had old porcelain fuses and the pillar box fuse out at the street blew first.
I made him pay for the cost of the Faultsman to replace the fuse.
I don't really like the idea of using a dead short to find a circuit, it doesn't sound too safe to me, I mean, what say the breaker that supplies that circuit is faulty and won't trip?.

Re: Overload - on purpose #70163 09/30/06 04:13 PM
Joined: May 2005
Posts: 706
Tiger Offline
Shorting the circuit isn't safe. Get a $25 circuit finder & a premade socket with pigtail clips. Now you're set for receptacles or open wiring.


Re: Overload - on purpose #70164 09/30/06 06:34 PM
Joined: Feb 2006
Posts: 138
PE&Master Offline
I have seen circuit breaker test companies trip 800 amp circuit breakers with a load device. It was the size of a two drawer file cabinet.
I'm not aware of one for small circuits. Done the 'short the circuit' routine myself when the circuit tracer was acting up. The problem is that not all the circuit may be able to take the fault and you'll create an open in a device, box, or worse yet in the wall.
If you get on a circuit with a lot of harmonics or noise the circuit locators go bezerk.

Re: Overload - on purpose #70165 09/30/06 08:05 PM
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 176
PEdoubleNIZZLE Offline
My mom wanted a ceiling fan installed and due to her lease agreement, she had to have a maintenance man install a ceiling fan (and pay the landlord $50 for about $10 in labor and $10 light fixture that he will reuse anyways). I was over her apartment for afternoon tea after church, and I heard the maintenance guy short out the wires (The loud pop is so distinct.) I was really mad he did that, but I decided to let it go. Well, I shouldn't have. About 5 minutes later, I smelled smoke.

Apparently, a few sparks set a minor fire on the couch. The maintenance man was nowhere in sight, but I found a burnt piece of #14 on his ladder, so I presume he went to get some THHN or something to pigtail off of what was left.

We reported it immediately to the manager, and I showed him where the wire burned off. Needless to say, she ended up getting the whole job done for free and a new couch and loveseat (my Mom has a huge temper and threatened to sue... I don't blame her.) I saw the maintenance man at the day labor place the next day across from where I work, so I guess he got fired.

So, Even though there's only a slim chance of a fire from a short that lasts less than a second, I say it's not a good idea at all.

My neighbor, the head of maintenance operations at a steel mill, has a device rigged up that draws 50A @ 120V, using nichrome wire. It's about the size of a computer case, and has a momentary switch capable of 75 Amps. Still think it's better to use a circuit tracer, but his idea is better than a dead short.

Re: Overload - on purpose #70166 09/30/06 08:33 PM
Joined: Feb 2005
Posts: 361
Celtic Offline
Is there a device (inexpensive) that one can plug in to overload a 15A or 20A ckt to the point the C/B trips??

Why trip it?
Will it trip? (think FPE)

Try this:
[Linked Image from]
Ideal 61-534

This one is $80 @; I bought a similar model for about $30 at Big Blue/Orange last year....has a typical recpt. tester and a GFCI tester built in.
I have MADE a ton of money on that "investment" !

[This message has been edited by Celtic (edited 09-30-2006).]

~~ CELTIC ~~
...-= NJ =-...
Re: Overload - on purpose #70167 09/30/06 08:39 PM
Joined: Jul 2005
Posts: 73
Surfinsparky Offline
I have seen large ground fault mains trip because someone intentionally tripped a branch circuit.I won't allow it on purpose ever.

Re: Overload - on purpose #70168 09/30/06 11:45 PM
Joined: Dec 2000
Posts: 4,287
electure Offline
The idea of doing this is right up there with the licking your fingers and touching the wires to see if they're hot trick.

The idea of doing it on a 277V system like Surfinsparky's talking about is absolute stupidity.

There are testers for locating circuits. Buy them...use them. This is 2006, no longer the day of the "Good Ole' Boy" stunts. Work safely and die of old age.

Re: Overload - on purpose #70169 10/01/06 03:33 AM
Joined: Jul 2006
Posts: 272
Luketrician Offline
Those circuit "toners" are ok as long as the circuit you are trying to trace isn't ran with sheilded cable. I've ran into this many-a-time when dealing with cable trays that are overflowing with wires.

Luke Clarke
Electrical Planner for TVA.

Re: Overload - on purpose #70170 10/01/06 12:59 PM
Joined: Jan 2005
Posts: 5,316
renosteinke Offline
Cat Servant
There once was a time, when many a journeyman caried some sort of hme-built contraption to do just this. Others have been known to short wires together with their fingers. There's a couple of reasons you don't see this done very much anymore.

First, let's look at the math. What is it, 746 wats to a horsepower? That means that even a household circuit can kick you with the strength of three horses- and not exceed the breaker rating.
OK, maybe not "kick." How about blowing your clever gizmo into a firey ball of plasma, in your hands, until the breaker trips, or the wire melts? Imagine the fun if it's the breaker that melts down, instead!

Now, for the past year a device has been marketed that claims to let you trip that breaker safely, as well as properly test the operation of the breaker. As you might guess, it's not cheap- price somewhere near a grand, I believe.

Toners are nice, but are much more 'art' than 'science.' I have two that I use.
Proper use of an amp clamp can find your circuits- especially if you can cycle the load.

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