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Why Does a Circuit Breaker Produce Power in the OFF Position

By Dave Rongey - Summary:

When a Circuit Breaker Produces Power in the OFF Position – There are two possibilities that would cause a circuit breaker to appear to have power when it is in the OFF position…

Defective Circuit Breaker or Two Power Sources

Electrical Troubleshooting: Why does circuit breaker (20A) produce power in the OFF position?

This electrical question came from: Monty, from Houston, Texas
See more about Home Wiring for Texas

Additional Comments: Awesome!!!

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your Electrical Troubleshooting Question Monty

Circuit Breaker Produces Power in the OFF Position

Troubleshooting an Electrical Circuit Problem

  • There are two possibilities that would cause a circuit breaker to appear to have power when it is in the OFF position. The circuit breaker would be defective. This would be very rare, but could be verified two ways:
    1. Remove the wire from the circuit breaker. If the wire is still energized then the circuit breaker is OK and isĀ  not the problem. If the wire is not energized but the terminal of the circuit breaker is energized while the breaker is switched OFF then the circuit breaker is faulty and would require replacing.
    2. If the wire is energized when not attached to the circuit breaker then there was two power sources providing power to one circuit.
      • The other source of power may be identified by continuing a voltage test of the wire and begin turning OFF other circuit breakers usually of the same amperage.
        • If the power source has been identified and if it is from a circuit breaker of the same amperage the the wire should be capped off and marked as a energized wire and the location where the connection has been made should be located and the connection to the wire which leads back to the panel should be removed.
        • If the power source was not from a circuit breaker of the same amperage then there is another connection problem which will require further investigation and troubleshooting starting at the location of the circuit device or equipment which is connected to the identified circuit breaker.

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2 Responses to “Why Does a Circuit Breaker Produce Power in the OFF Position”
  1. paula turner says:

    My mobile home recently had part of the wiring cut n stripped in it. I paid someone to repair it and they spliced my wires and ran them to the breaker box. The 220 was completely gone and had to be reran. the stove oven and lights wouldn’t work nor the dryer but when the dryer breaker was switched on the lights flickered on the stove. Their on 2 separate lines. The person that did the job won’t come back and fix it so I don’t know what to do me or my son don’t know anything about it plus I can’t afford to hire an electrician to rewire my house.

    • Dave Rongey says:

      I’m sorry to hear of this trouble Paula. I would guess that the person who did the work was not an electrician so the cables were not identified properly. Unfortunately a knowledgeable electrician will need to assist you to get this corrected. If you were in my area I would help you, however you may call around for help from a kind person. This could be remedied once the circuits or cables are identified and re-spliced or re configured at the panel, but this is not work for an amateur. Be aware that when the wrong voltage is fed to circuits that it may be very dangerous and damaging to your equipment. This should be repaired right away, until then the circuits should be turned off and not be used until they have been tested and verified.


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