Problems Getting Circuit Breaker to Reset

I have a circuit breaker that tripped last week. The backyard lights and dinning room light run off it and everything was off when it tripped. It would not reset even after pushing it all the way to off. I thought maybe it overheated so I left it off over night, but then the next day it still did not reset.


I waited until today when I am off work to go to Home Depot to by a new breaker and see if that was the problem. As I was getting ready to leave, I decided to test the breaker again just in case and lo and behold it reset and everything works just fine again. What would cause a breaker to not want to reset for several days?

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July 12, 20160 found this helpful

A breaker can trip from overcurrent (a condition in which too much current is flowing and heats an element in the breaker causing it to trip - this can be reset after cooldown after several minutes) or from short circuit (way way too much current causing an instant trip).

My guess is you have a short circuit. Outside light makes me think water is getting into a connection somewhere (switch, light, junction box) and tripping the breaker. When water dries out, circuit can be reset.


Another cause of short circuit is rodent damage of the cable.

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July 12, 20160 found this helpful

Turns out I had a bad 3 way light in the stairwell. The light for the stairwell has a switch at the bottom, top, and a third one on the wall on the outside of the stairwell. We never used the one on the side until recently but when the switches were all in a certain position and the wall was used, it would trip the breaker. We could not reset unless we repositioned the on/off switches in a different combinations. Once we figuredo it out, we remove the light switch and saw where the insulation had melted away on one of the wires and was making a short. We fixed the wires and the breaker reset just fine. The light switch wold still make a quick buzz when used so we replaced it. Now everything works.

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July 27, 20170 found this helpful

I had a similar problem with a newly installed 2- pole ganged 50 amp circuit breaker in my main panel due to a solar upgrade. Being a former Hydro-Plant electrician I decided to troubleshoot my problem.


I found that the solar company electrician had left one of the wire leads to my 50-amp breaker untightened. I tightened the wire and my problem disappeared.

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