how do I tell if my circuit breaker is bad?

I live in an older mobile home and recently lost power to one side of the home when a power outlet went out. I replaced the outlet but still have no power. I tested the outlets and all are wired right, but I don't know how to test the breaker to see if it's good.

5 Answers

Relevance
  • 9 years ago
    Favorite Answer

    The only way to truly test a breaker is to draw a known load through it and see if it trips at the proper amperage rating. This is not practical for a DIY'er (heck, even if you have an electrician on site, you would be cheaper just replacing it vs. this kind of testing).

    A couple of things that you can do yourself that will give you a pretty good idea about the breaker though....Test the voltage output of the breaker.

    If no voltage, check to see if it is tripped. If it is tripped, disconnect the load (circuit) wiring and reset it, then test again. If breaker trips again or has no voltage output (with no load), breaker is bad.

    If no voltage and it is not tripped, try resetting it anyway. If still no voltage, breaker is bad.

    If breaker appears to have proper voltage output, reconnect load and test again. If breaker trips, you have a circuit problem. If breaker has proper voltage and your circuit still does not work, you have a circuit problem.

    If you have a circuit problem, here are 2 possibilities:

    First, Not 100% guaranteed, but works almost all of the time. If it doesn't, you will be stuck opening each receptacle on the circuit until you find the problem.

    Turn on all of your non-working lights and plug lamps into any non-working receptacles. Make sure that any computers, or other sensitive electronics are not plugged into this circuit. Take a lamp or an extension cord around to the all of the receptacles on this circuit. DON'T rule out the working receptacles either. Try them too. Plug it in and wiggle the plug (hard enough to wiggle the receptacle too). You will probably find one where doing this suddenly causes your non-working lights/receptacles to come back to life. This will be your culprit.

    A lot of homes are wired with receptacles using 'stab-in-the-back' connections. These are actually still in use and are deemed safe for installation. The problem is that they have a terrible failure rate. The term 'stab-in-the-back' also applies to what they do to you later. Any replacement should have screw terminal connections.

    Second, if you are in a double-wide, is to check the crossover connections. This is where the power is crossed over to the half of the home that does not have the breaker panel. This is almost always located somewhere under the home along the 'marriage line'. There are many different variations for this. Email me if this appears to be an issue and you need more info.

    Source(s): NEC IBEW 191
  • 4 years ago

    This Site Might Help You.

    RE:

    how do I tell if my circuit breaker is bad?

    I live in an older mobile home and recently lost power to one side of the home when a power outlet went out. I replaced the outlet but still have no power. I tested the outlets and all are wired right, but I don't know how to test the breaker to see if it's good.

    Source(s): circuit breaker bad: https://tr.im/dd7QH
  • 9 years ago

    you can't really test a breaker at your home but if you remove the wires from the breaker and have a tester when you turn the breaker on you should have 120 volts to ground and the breaker should not trip. If the breaker trips when you hook the wires back up you have a bad circuit.

  • 9 years ago

    You can remove your breakers if you are careful. Use a volt/ohm meter to test the switch. Very simple but be really careful removing and replacing the switch. lace the meter on ohms test and move the switch lever back and forth. If the switch is still good it should move the indicator needle back and forth. Simple as I can explain it. If you are not comfortable around electricity, hire an electrician to replace it.

  • How do you think about the answers? You can sign in to vote the answer.
  • 9 years ago

    If you have no grounds......cross your fingers and reset it

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.