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Fixing a Circuit Breaker?

There is this one circuit breaker in my 1979 mobile home that continuously trips and it always has every since I was a little kid back when it was my dad's home. We usually just unplug something along the circuit, switch the breaker back on, and it stops for awhile. This morning it started tripping over and over even though nothing new has been added to that particular circuit. So I went through and turned off or unplugged everything except one lamp in the living room. It still keeps tripping the breaker even with just the one lamp on it!

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It's also doing something new that it has never done before that has only been happening since this morning: when the breaker trips it is now making an odd whooshing/popping noise when tripped (this is not just the usual sound of the breaker itself clicking over). I am low income and can't afford to have a professional come look at it or fix it and honestly the entire place probably needs to be rewired but, for now, I just need help to find and fix this issue first. My 4 children live with me (one is Deaf) and I'm terrified something bad is going to happen so, for now, I'm just leaving the breaker off. I've moved everything actually needed onto different circuits, and we are now sitting in the dark in the living room watching TV.

Oh ya, also about a month or so ago the light fixture in the hallway stopped working (the light was flickering and when I changed the bulb the entire fixture just straight fell out the ceiling!), so we are currently not using that light (I taped the switch down so the kids wouldn't turn it on) but I checked the fixture and there are no wires touching there. However shortly after the hallway light messed up the light fixtures in the living room stopped working too. I feel like my home is falling apart, I'm scared, and I've no idea what to do or where to start. And before the comments start: I can't afford to move, I can't afford an electrician, I usually just fix things myself, and I'm simply looking for a starting place to try to fix this. I'm trying my best so please be kind. Thank you.

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November 30, 20200 found this helpful

HAZARD - there are so many things that you mentioned that are spelling many problems with your electrical . It is giving you signs of problems that need the attention of a professional electrician. To help yourself, you could check for any over loading of outlets, extension cords, foot heaters, pieces that use a lot of watts could also be over loading electrical , giving the flickering . Not repairing could result in lost of power, damage to breaker, or even fire.

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November 30, 20201 found this helpful

First off I understand you are low income and can't afford an electrician to help you fix this. I would like to help out and walk you through a few steps you can do on your own to narrow down this issue.

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You need a volt meter to start off with. Remove the panel in the home where the electric plugs are located and check the wiring of these outlets first. Make sure none of the cables are worn, fried, and are all making good contact.

Now use the volt meter to see how much electricity is passing through each outlet.

Check your cabling that leads up to the outlet and trace it back to the breaker box. Make sure that now of the cable coating is cracked, frayed, or broken. This is very important to look for this because that is what makes the cracking or hissing noises you are hearing that there is a short in one of the wiring.

Replace any and all cables leading back to the circuit breaker on this one circuit that seems to pop all the time. When it pops it means that the circuit is overloaded and can't take the load it is receiving from more than one electrical item that is plugged in at one time.

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Now check your circuit breaker and how many wires are attached to that one circuit. I think in a motor home it is a continuous loop circuit. This would mean going to the last outlet and working your way back to the circuit box. Changing out the cables from one outlet to the other as you go along.

Now check the load capacity on your circuit box or the breaker to this bank of outlets. See what this is. You sound like you don't have a good breaker that can handle this load capacity on this box.

Check with the company and see if you can add a larger breaker here or divide the load into 2 separate circuits.

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December 1, 20200 found this helpful

You might check with your local electric company or library to see if they have volt meters to loan out. My local area does this to help people figure out where they are using too much power. You may also find financial assistance for repairs from the electric company or your city, county or state housing offices.

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Good luck and be safe. It sounds like a fire is a real concern.

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December 2, 20200 found this helpful

Thank you so much! I will try the things you suggested. Do you know what the voltage should be?

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December 1, 20200 found this helpful

A 1979 mobile home is in the time frame of aluminum wiring. This wiring has had many problems over the years, and caused quite a few fires. I know you say you can't afford an electrician, but when the lives of your family are on the line, you NEED an electrician!!!! Even if it isn't aluminum wire, copper wiring can have problems too. Have you ever seen or heard evidence of mice in the walls or ceiling? These nasty little buggars like to chew the sheathing on the outside of wires, which can cause wires to short out, which can blow the breakers or even start fires. With all the problems your home seems to be having with the electrical system, if it was me, I would find a way to hire an electrician to check it out....even if it meant selling some furniture or jewelry, etc., or taking out a small loan from a bank or relatives. SAFETY FIRST AND FOREMOST !!!!

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December 2, 20200 found this helpful

I'm assuming this is your home and you are not renting.
I'm also assuming you are receiving government assistance for food and healthcare for your children because if you are not then you need to contact Family Services in your area and get signed up for all available services. You will have to be receiving help from these agencies or no 'free' services will be offered to you for any kind of repairs.

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Sounds like you have some serious electrical problems that will be costly to repair as your 1979 mobile home is so far out of compliance with electrical codes no electrician will touch it without doing a full replacement of all electrical works in your home. It would be illegal for a licensed electrician to do any repairs to one or two places and leave the rest that do not meet code. It's possible that if someone repaired something and your home caught on fire, they could be held responsible. This is not a healthy situation but you do not have a lot of options.
Trying to do any repairs yourself could make something worse and a fire could destroy your home in virtually minutes.

What options do you have?
Contact government agencies in your zip code that help low income families with children as they do offer help even if you are not a senior or disabled.
From previous searches the problem here is that almost NO government agency will approve any work on a mobile home. They may offer you a place to live for low rent but they will not spend money on repairs to a mobile home.

The only agency that may help you will be Habitat for Humanity as they sometimes do make repairs on mobile homes when children are involved.
This may not be the best time to try and get help but the sooner you contact them the sooner you can be put on a list.
Just be sure that whatever information you put on any paper/form is the absolute truth so no problems will arise in the future.

I would say you could ask for help from local churches but none of them would be able to do what needs to be done in your home.
You might want to think about placing an ad on sites like FreeCycle. Craigslist, Next Door, or any local papers explaining some of your problems and ask for help doing repairs or helping you find the problems.

I sincerely hope you can find help and I hope you and your children manage to have a nice, safe Christmas.

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