Circuit breaker problem


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Old 01-13-19, 09:54 PM
L
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Circuit breaker problem

We have been living in this house since we got it built 4 years ago.
A week ago on a very windy evening, the power went out in the whole area of the city and we were without power most of the night.
The following morning, the power was back but some of the circuit breakers had tripped so my son reset them.

That evening, I noticed the wifi linked light switch at the front entrance was without power. It controls the porch lights outside. That switch is one of three switches behind a 3-switch cover. It is on the far left. The middle one is one of 4-way switch for the hallway. The one on the right controls the ceiling light at the front entrance.

I had installed the Wifi linked switch so that I can set schedule for On/Off times since we leave the lights on overnight. I adjust time On/Off times every other week trailing the sunset/sunrise times.
Therefore, it was one of my favorite mods I did when I first moved into the house. It has been working great for the last 4 years.
I had a spare Wifi switch just like it. I turned the circuit breaker #19(CAFI) to Off position. And I uninstalled the wifi light switch that went bad and I installed the spare wife switch. I did not undo or re-do any of the wires on the other two switches.
When I turned the circuit breaker back on, the Wifi switch was working fine. I was happy.

Then at the end of the hallway to the back of the house, motion sensing light switch stopped working.
At first it was making clinking noise as it detected motion but the light was not coming on.
This switch is on breaker #27(CAFI). I thought might be a blown lightbulb but when I tested the bulb by installing it in the bathroom and it was functioning. Soon the motion sensing switch stopped making clicking noise - it was either dead or lost power. But the other light switch was working in the adjacent bathroom. Then that bathroom light went out also. I went to the main breaker board in the garage and noticed breaker #27 had tripped.
I tried to reset it by pushing it to off and pushing it back to on. I could not make it click to On. The red color kept showing up in the window on the breaker. The power outlets connected to #27 were also dead.

I went to Home Depot and bought a new circuit breaker that was identical to the broken one.

I installed it.
And when I turned on #27 again, the switches were still not working.
I thought the motion sensing switch was blown and it was causing it.
I went to Home Depot again and bought a new motion sensing switch designed for 3 way.

I turned off #27 and installed the motion sensing switch.

I turned #27 back on.

Then suddenly, I heard 'CLICK'. I went to the garage and #27 had tripped again. And it was blown again.

The adjacent bathroom does not have GFCI and none of the outlets in the hallway has GFCI.

I went back to Home Depot and bought a new circuit breaker CAFI and came back home and put it on the board.

This time it stays on, but no light or outlet (controlled by #27 breaker) has power.

It has been a long day and I am done for now. The hallway and the adjacent bathroom is dark but the rest of the house is bright.

I want to bypass 3 out of 4 hallway light switches. I want just the motion sensing switch to control the hallway light.

How would I do that?

Thank you.
 
  #2  
Old 01-13-19, 10:17 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Very hard to follow what you are doing and have there. Can you sum up what you need to do ?
It sounds like you have a four way circuit. That would be at least two 3w switches and at least one 4w switch.
Is this correct ?
Can we assume the wifi switch was installed at one 3w location ?
This had been working ok..... correct ?

You are having a problem with an arc fault breaker. My first thought was you are not using the correct neutral to run the wifi control.
 
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Old 01-13-19, 10:37 PM
L
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You are correct!

The main problem is that I cannot get the arc fault breaker to work again... The second replacement even when On, does not provide power.


And the second issue is I want to bypass 3 of 4 switches that control the hallway lights... leaving just the motion sensing switch.

Thank you.

I will check the neutral wire again later.
So you are suspecting that I hooked up the wifi switch (which is on #19) to a neutral wire that is part of breaker #27....
 
  #4  
Old 01-14-19, 10:21 AM
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The main problem is that I cannot get the arc fault breaker to work again... The second replacement even when On, does not provide power.

How did you determine the breaker is not providing power? Did you check for voltage from the breaker to neutral and if so, what voltage reading did you get? I suspect that during the high winds and eventual restoration of power that high voltage switching sent you some voltage surges that damaged your equipment.


I tried to reset it by pushing it to off and pushing it back to on. I could not make it click to On. The red color kept showing up in the window on the breaker.

Who is manufacturer of the panel and breakers? Sounds as if it could be either Square D QO series or Cutler-Hammer CH series. Regardless, both are very reliable and carry a lifetime warranty so no need to buy any new breakers.
 
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Old 01-14-19, 11:18 AM
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It's not unheard of for a power outage to cause a surge that can damage electronics. So it's quite possible one or more of your switches got fried. Sometimes, when they do, they cause enough of a short to trip the breaker.

I had this issue with a GFI receptacle, power strip, garage door opener, and a few melted light bulb sockets when a nearby transformer shorted out in a storm. You may need to disconnect one or more of the switches to figure out which one(s) might have been affected.
 
 

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