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Electrical Wiring in the Home/2 lizard tanks 2 heat pads 4 lights and one circuit.

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QUESTION: Hi, I have 2 lizard tanks in my room ( one on either side of the room) the first tank has an extension cord running from a third outlet powering a 150 watt heat lamp( Exo terra ) and from an outlet right beside the tank I have a 20 watt vitamin light and a large Exo terra heating pad ( unsure of wattage ).
The second tank has and extension cord with a 100 watt heat lamp a 20 watt vitamin light and a small Exo terra heating pad.
I believe my tanks are what is causing my breaker to go off, when it does the outlets in the left half of my basement turn off and so do the ones in the middle floor and all the ones in my room upstairs, the living room where we have a fish tank that runs a pump a heater and one regular light also turns off and next to it and the washroom across the hall from my room goes out to ( the ceiling lights stay on though)
Is there some kind of power bar that is able to make it easier on the system in my house?
So 3 outlets. a 150 watt light, a 100 watt light, two 20 watt lights and 2 heat pads+ plus the fish tank and other things ( also my circuit bord has almost 30 switches, why dose one of them control almost half my house?)
Thank you

ANSWER: Jackson, wow there is a lot of stuff here.  And you are in BC where the utilities are both the same as and can be different than here in the US,  but they are not exactly specific    looks like a combo of 400 Volts in  [could be three phase even at residential]  But that is a good thing,   why we don't use three phase everywhere is beyond me.

So your outlets and smallest circuit voltages Could/Should be 120/240 Single phase, I am going to copy your question below because it has so many parts to it:

  Hi, I have 2 lizard tanks in my room ( one on either side of the room) the first tank has an extension cord running from a third outlet powering a 150 watt heat lamp( Exo terra ) and from an outlet right beside the tank I have a 20 watt vitamin light and a large Exo terra heating pad ( unsure of wattage ).
The second tank has and extension cord with a 100 watt heat lamp a 20 watt vitamin light and a small Exo terra heating pad.
I believe my tanks are what is causing my breaker to go off, when it does the outlets in the left half of my basement turn off and so do the ones in the middle floor and all the ones in my room upstairs, the living room where we have a fish tank that runs a pump a heater and one regular light also turns off and next to it and the washroom across the hall from my room goes out to ( the ceiling lights stay on though)
Is there some kind of power bar that is able to make it easier on the system in my house?
So 3 outlets. a 150 watt light, a 100 watt light, two 20 watt lights and 2 heat pads+ plus the fish tank and other things ( also my circuit bord has almost 30 switches, why dose one of them control almost half my house?)
Thank you

Lets start at with the last question first,    

Your main supply box from the utility has thirty [or close].  You want to know why one of them controls ALMOST HALF YOUR HOUSE?

YOU should have one main breaker that is rated for the total capacity of the house wiring. It should turn everything off regardless of voltage, circuits or anything else.  Say you have a 400 AMP system,  the main breaker should be 400 amps, and when switched off, every circuit in the house should go off.


I used to have fish and Geckos,  so I know it is hard to just shut stuff off, but first thing I need you to turn off major appliances,    and then switch the main breaker off,   make sure everything is dead,     how to do that,?    Well a couple ways,  an inexpensive volt meter, that you could CAREFULLY use to insert each test lead into each outlet     or an easier way  and these run about $70.00     these are non contact    NON CONTACT voltage detectors,      they are used to trace opens in circuits  without tearing out walls,  but in this case it would be much easier to just take the voltage pen and go around the house,  [daytime with flashlight]   if there is voltage at any outlet with the main off,  great,  then go outside or wherever your meter is, and make sure no wheels are spinning or if digital no numbers are showing power is still being drawn          that would indicate a short or bad main, or other problem,       

We want to know off the bat,  does the main breaker kill everything?    So many things happen, over years,  say your house had an owner before,  who knows what he or she might have done.

With power such a big deal for years, I have seen people do dangerous stuff  jumper off an outside stub and bring power in the house around the meter   [where as long as no one sees it and they record the kwh   kilowatt hours  remotely] there is free power,   It can be ran to an individual box with a main breaker and then feeds ran off it.

Strongly suggest no one does this,  too many hidden dangers,  if there was a fire, you would be responsible and insurance likely to not pay,  plus fines and whatever other laws might be broken   so DO NOT DO THAT       

I only bring that up because you say one breaker controls half the house,     but I think that is a different problem         still we have to know we can kill the power to the house,  and that the main is doing the job if needed,     and those are the two easiest ways to check yourself,    and that depends on your electrical experience     the non contact is relatively safe  you just get close to the outlet,   do it before you shut off things, and the pen will light up and beep,      then when off,   nothing,    that way no sticking probes in outlets and all that,  for $70 bucks it is a great tool for a homeowner.

Now if I add up the wattages  nothing seems out of place except if I understand you correctly when THE breaker trips   off goes a lot of stuff,       

Now either someone added on circuits from a sub breaker  [the one that is tripping off]  or something is shorted, connected wrong in the main box, a loose or corroded connection,  but you are correct all these smaller breakers should not be tripping off one circuit.

There is a max per breaker,  and it sounds like you are connecting from more than one,  which would be fine,  but apparently that is not the case.

Is this recent?    Or did it start over time?   

Let's say you are picking up by extension cord, off one sub breaker,  the amount of power would seem to be all off the one breaker       but only because of the extension cords,   

But then you throw another curve, and that is    it is almost impossible to use extension cords and not pick up at least one more breaker,    but you are not,       

If all this worked fine before,   for a long time   years or whatever,  and now it trips,  maybe one of the pads or heater lamps  is corroded and causing a voltage drop,      

But it seems to me you have a much more major problem, somewhere,   

It just makes no sense you are pulling power from down halls and not catching a couple breakers at the least.

If two or more breakers were tripping, then we could say we are overloading both but you say ONE      

To tell you the truth,  with the massive amount of things going off,   which means there IS AN OVERLOAD,   I think I would simply find myself a reliable bonded electrician  and let him take a look at how the loads in your house are distributed,  like I said,  you never know what was done before,   or even if it is a brand new house is no guarantee that things are done right,  I just went through it,         a house fire caused by a bad coffee maker cord  burnt my house nearly to the ground,     

Just a bad cord,   simple as that,  we get the first contractor in,  and the insurance ends up paying contractor #2 over $2000 to straighten up the mess the original contractor,  recommended by the insurance company mind you,   made such a mess of.

The first dope painted inside the outlet boxes, switch boxes,  it was hell,   so the pros are not always pros   and you just never know.

On a problem like this,  I don't see an hour, of time,  where the electrician could check the main, check your grounding rod,  check what circuits have what on each breaker,  and let them reroute the circuits or find the problem of one breaker controlling so much.

And you have expensive pets in these devices,   they are famous for having fire related problems.

In my opinion  each tank should be on its own breaker, and labeled,  then you add in the fact you have water with heaters in it,  and each circuit should be protected by a GFCI.

An hour here would run for the very first call around $200. If you bought a meter deduct $70 bucks.  Now down to $130.

You asked about a power bar, and I see where you are getting that.  You do have one in your main box. There is the hot side and the neutral side buss,   how they have the wires run to each of the thirty breakers,  needs to be looked at and labeled   so you KNOW which breaker goes to which outlet,   often that is not the case it is done in a sloppy manner,  hand written with an ink pen,  poor,        

Considering you have all these pets,  extension cords and a tripping breaker,  there is a problem  and from here we could guess this and that forever,  but without being able to see, measure and look for other issues, we probably would never get to the problem or most likely problems.

And it could be something as simple as moving a circuit from one breaker to other.  Maybe you need another feed and outlet,   or two,   the cost of that would depend on the access but a good electrician can go right to it,  and run some wire,  install some outlets and install some GFCIs,   then everything is safe,  your pets and YOU,        

I could list out a bunch of things to try, like running an extension cord to another outlet,  stuff like that,    but then what would we miss?

Heres a hint on finding an electrician,   word of mouth is normally the best,  but say you use the yellow pages, and they have this nice looking website,    

DO NOT go by that  once you narrow down to a couple who can give you an idea of an hour of labor and service call,      YOU GO There,    go see where they are coming from     

Are they coming from a home garage or a shack, or are they coming from a neat and clean shop?

That will tell you a lot,  way more than anyones list you have to pay for,      

I wish I could run down a list of things, but I have in my mind and each time I think well if tell him to move this to there,  and no way to get current or voltage,  just not enough information to help you be safe completely and that is the bottom line,      

I wish I had a tripped breaker on that damn coffee pot,   I didn't.  I had no idea anything was wrong,   it just shorted.

If I had a tripped breaker,  I know there would have been no fire,    a tripped breaker is an overload, a bad breaker,  or just too much load for the circuit.

The breaker protects the wire, so it doesn't get hot and cause problems in a wall,  when it trips you immediately shut it down,  and find the problem.

I have found sections of romex  from an outlet in a kitchen,  the breaker tripped,  the outlet looked fine,  and not everytime would it trip,    but it was a clue     

Three feet straight up the wall from the outlet,   I found a two inch long section of romex wire that had shorted burnt  created carbon,  and that let whatever you plugged in work sometimes,   it was conducting along the carbon path and most likely glowing,     it was close to a fire,         

The last thing you ever ever ever want in your life,          trust me,  I was out of my house for 2 years  two kids, dogs, pets,  and a constant mess,  now three years later,   after spending thousands on lab testing,  lawyers  I still lost in the long run big time,    thousands and thousands of dollars,       not to mention the court time,  the paper, the this the that, the insurance company     just hell        I have 120 boxes left to unpack  they just shoved stuff in boxes and when they brought it back    the aquarium might have been in one box,  the heater in another,   the rocks and decor in another,    still sorting,   

So with all this said  and I have been thinking through this the whole time,   your situation needs some professional eyes on it,    and let's hope,  and it is likely,  that all that is needed is a bit of rerouting  in the main panel.

In other words you have a good chance this is no major deal,  just an issue a good electrician will find in no time.


Let em know what you think,   my personal email is at the bottom,  make a subject so I know it is you from all experts,  and I will write you back by personal email,   we can talk out who, what they say,  and I will help guide you so you don't get some dope like I got,    

[we were not allowed in the house but on rare occasions,  that is when I found the paint in the boxes and all hell broke loose, but sometimes you cannot be there every second,  so I will help you understand anything they say,  and if it seems out of place,  I have called contractors as an agent before,  and they are not going to push any BS off on me,]


Try for now to find a way to route something somewhere else,  I dont like this constant tripping it could be a sign of impending big time problems     if you have too,  get a big extension cord and run it from somewhere way away    anything to try and break up the load on what is now one circuit         but at the same time, start asking start looking start calling and get yourself a trusted talented electrician who will put things in a safe way for you.

And write me anytime   not a problem     

Now if your main breaker  [and I have to suspect it has to the be the main breaker at the top]

That should not be how it works,      

---------- FOLLOW-UP ----------

The switch box
The switch box  

Directory
Directory  
QUESTION: Thank you for your time and information man!
So I'm only 18 and this is my moms house, my room is controlled by the switch that says leilahnis room in the picture.
One thing I forgot to mention is that everything seems to shutdown as the heat turns on :/ our outlets are 120 for small appliances, and 240 for big stuff like stoves and fridges. I have heard of the electric output reading thing, I think my dad has one, don't worry I'll get help from him with shutting down the house before we check for leaks.
And by looking around I can tell the house isn't done right, it's big, buts its got cracks in concrete and in the basement the concrete walls are full of bubbles and we have seems along the tops of some walls that don't meet the ceiling down there, also there are windows held in by thin pieces of wedged in wood in which we have bared shut :s
So I wouldn't be surprised if the wires are a bit funky because the rest off the house is done very cheaply
Non matching wood on our railings non matching tiles on most surfaces in washrooms , cheap fake counter linoleum stuff that hangs down to try and make the counter look and inch thick when really it's only a centimetre, a pink carpet?? And literally every room is a different colour and I don't think the heat in the basement works that well, and the kitchen sink takes about five minutes to run hot water also there's leaks that we can't figure out dripping in the basement that I have to empty buckets of water from once a month.  And I have a sliding door on ground level with a 2 step dish of stairs that sometimes fills with water due to a bad drain and then the water builds up against the door and leaks on the floor <-- and every time that happens I'm the guy they call upon to shovel it all out and unclog the drain. But I like this place ahaha it's nice
For now I am gong to look in to the making sure we don't have an electrical leak somewhere
I'm sending a picture of the switch board to.  I rewrote the faint words I could read in red to make them more visible to you.

Also I will try to plug one of the tanks into a different plug in far away on the other side of the house

Thank you very much for all of the help and suggestions , Me and the lizards Kado and Liz  and the fishes Sam and Eric appreciate it very much

Answer
Well quite a job for a young guy,     bottom line,   I still you need an electrical check by an electrician,    even though I see the room labeled that is the problem child of the moment No way to know how many black wires are stuffed into that one breaker,        

NEXT and very important,  you are going to go have to go through step by step, each circuit,  how many circuits on the problem child,    is there a water leak somewhere wicking up into some romex?

If you Dad knows electrical he has an amp meter,    and that would be an even better place to start        

Clamp on ALL THE BLACK WIRES that feed into the problem breaker,     how many amps?

Then what is the breaker capacity  15 amps?

So if you clamp it and find you are pulling 17 amps,  or it is moving all over,   problem in one of the circuits on the breaker,      one by one remove a black wire,  wire nut it, and if lowers the overall amp value     you probably found a problem       

Remember amperage or amps is a result,    it is pretty simple  volts time amps = load   we will use power factor as one and all other parameters as one,  the problem is big enough we should not have to worry with that,          

Let me know what the current is on the problem circuit    remember   you have to clamp all at the same times,          now measure the voltage at the breaker from the black to the neutral buss,      what is it?    LOW OR HIGH OR RIGHT ON<  ??


If it is tripping and the current is right and the voltage is right   it can be a bad breaker,  they do wear out,   I got a feeling that aint it,   but OCHEMS Razor has merit,  or OCCEMS razor which ever way you want to spell it,      says the most likely solution is the simplest of all choices,        

Get me some data, and we can go from there,    by the way,   the leak     ever seen a bilge pump?   They got some cheap ones, that all you need to do is sit the pump in the lowest area and figure a way to run the exit tube out a hole in the wall  Cut a hole with a hole saw and run it to a drain block,    then seal up the tube in the wall,       they got a million varieties for not much at any hardware store,   that might keep the trips down,         

Get me some hard data       whatever you can get me    voltages currents,  so on,  and we go from there     

Pretty cool an 18 year old is tackling something like this  just be GOD DAMN CAREFUL  I SEE TOO MANY WORDS LIKE ELECTRICAL AND WATER TO BE comfortable about any of this,  
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Electrical issues of all types, wiring, control, appliances, components, specialty in Electric MOTOR or APPARATUS trouble shooting, electric motors, electrical problems, single phase, three phase, DC, capacitors, elevator MG-Sets, modifications, reverse engineering, VFD Drives, single to three phase convertors. Repair of most any electrical/mechanical/electronic apparatus, OEM, AC, DC, Industrial Applications, Three phase, single phase failure mode, determining the root cause of the equipment failure BEFORE failure repeats, Antique appliances, electric motors, fans, ceiling fans, base mount fans, poor equipment performance, Modifications, habitual failures, vibration, redesign, obsolete issues, collectible items restored, rewinding. Owner of EMR Repair Inc www.emrrepair.com More information on electric motors, under Engineering/Motors Ask about any electrical or mechanical problems in the home, office, or even at your work. B2B or business to business CONSULTING I can do but it would be a much more complex issue, that would require a significant amount of time. repair@mearservice.com from there we can discuss and begin work on about anything. Industrial electric motors, controls, troubleshooting, vibration, alignment, any type of industrial or commercial electric/electrcical equipment For the home owner, renter, apartment if you have odd things going on, describe to me, photos are normally very helpful, appliances, heating and air conditioning issues, light switches, installation, DIY PROJECTS FOR THOSE NOT EDUCATED IN ELECTRICAL, we can do some things, but for safety and sanity reasons, I may refer you to a local electrician, and help you find one, help you with pricing and even speak directly with anyone you hire if you have issues,

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Over thirty years with a major repair and sales company, VP of Operations, and former owner of my own specialty repair shops, MEAR Services local to Kansas City Missouri EMR Repair Inc., located in Kansas City Missouri, 2014 sold both businesses to JCI Industries, Lee's Summit Missouri wbabbitt@jciind.com Evaluation and repair of electrical/mechanical apparatus. Electrical and mechanical repairs, trouble shooting including, vibration and balance issues. About.com provides this service, and the huge costs to provide help on about any subject. They provide the servers, the people to vet the experts, costs that would be the same as operating a good sized business, They should be appreciated for what they do, the huge costs and the great help they provide for free, Electric motor questions, can be answered here but there is a dedicated category that has other experts to help and add to a solution. Other common questions, are noises in the walls, breakers tripping, devices not starting or shutting down for no apparent reason, smoke alarms buzzing, thermostat change outs, or sizing wire or needing information for a new project, but anything can be resolved, anything, with enough effort and patience, DIY, with electrical is possible, but in most cases the use of a simple ohm meter or volt meter is needed, they can be purchased at any hardware store for a few bucks. If you have smoke, or smell smoke, don't be writing me, call 911 the Fire Department has no problem looking for smoke smells, better then spraying water on a blazing fire. DO NOT GET CAUGHT INVESTIGATING AND TRAPPED IN A BASEMENT LOOKING FOR A BLOWER FAILING< As to the tip jar, it is up to you, it is appreciated, every expert spends out of pocket that I know, we spend on IP time, computer wear, printing documents, books, and of course our time, but if we prevent a $400 service call, we did well,

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