Question about Square D Qob120 1pole 20amp 120v Circuit Breaker

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Circuit Breaker A branch circuit that runs out to my garage trips often and when I removed the cover to the junction box in the circuit to check for current I found that I actually had to turn off two circuit breakers to kill the juice to the garage. What is happening here? Thanks

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  • Brian Jacoby May 11, 2010

    Can you trace out what each circuit breaker operates? i.e. turn on only one breaker and see what works and what doesn't, then flip flop. This info. may be helpful in order to troubleshoot.

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You have 2 circuits that feed the garage , not a problem , the one that you stated tripped often is the one we are concerned with . now do you remember which one that was , if so we need to start there . the first thing to determine is the load on the circuit large enough to to justify tripping of the breaker , breakers tripping is not always an indication of a problem it simply means it is doing its job sometimes . To determine the load turn on all the devices normally on in the garage and get or borrow a amp probe a wrap around is the easiest to use open the breaker panel that feeds the garage and wrap the amp probe around the wire leaving the panel that feeds the circuit to the garage that is the one that trips see if the load is close to the rating on the breaker , if it is then the breaker is doing its job and the only solution it to split the load . now if the load needs to be split then don't forget you said you had two circuits feeding the garage so you might be able to divide the load more evenly between the two you already have before you have to run additional circuits , tripping of breakers is not always a bab thing in most cases in my 40 years of being an electrician it is a case of them doing there job and the load needs to be more evenly divided if this does not help let me know and we will dig deeper

Posted on Jan 30, 2009

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Garage Electrical


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You need to trace out the circuit. Find out which receptacles,
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If yours has a plug - make sure the plug is original with the unit, not added later or spliced onto hard-wired power leads.

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One single cable runs from the circuit breaker to a junction box in that area of the house.
The cable has a black Hot wire, white Neutral wire, and bare ground wire.
Once the cable arrives at junction box, it can split up 2 or 3 directions.
Each successive box receives a cable that feeds back to the first junction box.

Chances are the junction box is on the ceiling. And it will be the ceiling box that is closest to main breaker box.
Junction box can also be a switch box. In that case it will be switch box closest to main box.

Find the junction box, as point of organization.
Open junction box and separate all black and white wires.
Turn power on and see if breaker sets.
That will tell you if problem is between main box and junction box.

Junction box wires are separated.
Tape tester leads to wood sticks to keep hands away from power.
Turn power ON and test each wire in junction box to bare ground wire.
Tester will light up on Hot wire.
Test Hot to each other wire in box, except bare ground, and tester lights up on Neutral
This identifies the cable that comes from breaker box.

Now, reconnect cable from breaker box to one of the other sets of black and white wires located in junction box.
Check if breaker resets.
If breaker resets, see what circuits are working, and you can eliminate them as suspect.

Remember each successive box in a circuit has 1 cable that connects back to main breaker box
Going 1 box at a time, and disconnecting black and white wires, will eventually lead to the suspect.

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Here are links that show basic wiring inside a breaker box.

Please look at the images.
If you need more help, answer back and we'll go to the next step

http://waterheatertimer.org/See-inside-main-breaker-box.html

http://waterheatertimer.org/240-v-water-heater-circuit.html
http://waterheatertimer.org/Circuit-breakers.html
http://waterheatertimer.org/Color-codewire2.html
http://waterheatertimer.org/Figure-Volts-Amps-Watts-for-water-heater.html

Breaker size:
15 amp breaker connects to 14 gauge wire
20 amp breaker connects to 12 gauge wire
30 amp breaker connects to 10 gauge wire
Home Depot and Lowes have a breaker and wire size size chart next to wire cutting machine
These stores have guys who know the basic breaker size for your big appliances
Each appliance has a name plate showing wattage and voltage.
The wattage tells you what size wire.
The voltage tells you what size breaker and whether you need a 120V breaker or 240V breaker.

To lay out your home wiring:
The kitchen microwave needs a 20Amp 120V 'dedicated' line that goes just to the microwave.
The rest of the kitchen plugs are served by another 20 amp 120V breaker
When laying out rest of house, figure how much wattage might be used in an area.
For example the den might have a big 500Watt TV, and 2 ceiling fans and 4 lights.
Add up the wattage and decide how many plugs and switches you want on each breaker.
Now let's say you have a 20Amp breaker which can carry 1920 Watts for the den.
Inside the breaker box you have a 12 gauge wire for the 20 Amp breaker.
The 12 gauge wire has a black, white and bare ground.
The black connects to breaker. The white and ground connect to Neutral busbar.
The 12 gauge wire leaves the breaker box and goes to the first box in the den.
This box is your junction box.
The junction box can be a switch box or a ceiling light box.
You cannot have any junction boxes that are covered by drywall.
Junction boxes must be accessible. All boxes must be accessible.
For example, you choose a ceiling box for your junction box.
The junction box is also the same box your ceiling light connect to.
From your junction box, you branch off a wire that goes to next box.
And then a wire branches off next box and goes to next box. And so on.

If you need more help, answer back and we can help.

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1 Answer

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