circuit breaker keeps tripping

In my girlfriend's apartment, the circuit breaker for the kitchen keeps tripping. This only started happening a couple days ago. After
resetting the breaker, it takes about a day before it trips again, not right away. What could be the cause of this?
Before I simply get "call an electrician" my situation is that she and I are both full time university students, and have no money at all. Her landlord is very slow, if ever, to respond to any maintance requests.
I am also a full time student, however I am a lot more capable than most, I also work in the electrical department at a major home improvement store, and can do a good many tasks that many of my peers can not. I think I could fix her problem if I knew what was wrong and how to fix it.
The circuit breaker for the kitchen is a 30 amp, double pole of course.
Help.
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| In my girlfriend's apartment, the circuit breaker for the kitchen keeps | tripping. This only started happening a couple days ago. After | resetting the breaker, it takes about a day before it trips again, not | right away. What could be the cause of this?
Lots of things are possible.
1. Sometimes a few breakers will have a lower rating as they age. This is rare, but not unknown.
2. A loose connection on the breaker is heating it up, making the thermal element hotter than it should be. This is a "could burn the place down" risk.
3. Added appliances could be reaching the load limit on the circuit.
4. Some appliance is defective (and dangerous).
Check the breaker in question carefully to see if it feels warmer or hotter than other breakers. If so, shut off all the appliances and wait an hour, then shut off the breaker (look away as you do this, since there is a small, but non-zero, risk that the breaker is damaged as a result of the heat, and this may be the instant it chooses to physically break and cause its own short). Leave it off and report to the landlord that there is an electrical fire hazard (because there really is ... a loose connection could result in burning the whole place down).
| Before I simply get "call an electrician" my situation is that she and I | are both full time university students, and have no money at all. Her | landlord is very slow, if ever, to respond to any maintance requests. | | I am also a full time student, however I am a lot more capable than | most, I also work in the electrical department at a major home | improvement store, and can do a good many tasks that many of my peers | can not. I think I could fix her problem if I knew what was wrong and | how to fix it.
In virtually all jurisdictions, doing electrical work like that in other than a homeowner occupied residence is illegal. And that's not even addressing the issue of your liability for causing damage to property that belongs to someone else (including other tenants if there are any and something burns down as a result of your mistake). If you cannot get the landlord to do the right thing and fix this ... if it is indeed a problem that belongs to the landlord ... then you need to look for some legal help to pressure the landlord to do so. Do not try this yourself even if it becomes clear what the problem is.
| The circuit breaker for the kitchen is a 30 amp, double pole of course.
That sounds wrong. In the USA, which you appear to be in, circuits for receptacles would have 15 or 20 amp, generally single pole. Two-pole circuits would be for 240 volt receptacles, otherwise it's 120 volts. A two pole 30 amp breaker sounds like it would be for an electric clothes dryer, or an electric water heater, or a central air conditioner/heater.
If it really is a 30 amp breaker powering ordinary 15 or 20 amp outlets, there's a code violation right there. You may be able to get the local building/electrical inspector to force the landlord's hand sooner than legal aid could do. But there is a very slight risk the building could also be condemned if the landlord refuses to fix it, and your girlfriend will be out on the street (or over at your place).
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snipped-for-privacy@ipal.net wrote:

There is one thing in the kitchen that is 240 volts. The electric range. That requires a 2-pole breaker. Now that I think about it, I learned at my work that most electric ranges use 30 amps also.
However I also think I remember hearing that major appliances like that are required to be on their own seperate circuit. But this breaker very obviously controls more than just the electric range. Perhaps it was grandfathered in, cause that doesn't sound right.
Since I made the first post, I may have found out what the problem is, but I am not 100% sure. She convieniently forgot to tell me earlier that the heating coil in the oven died about the same time as all this started happening. I think that it is now drawing too much power and making the breaker trip. Would this be a correct?
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On Wed, 01 Dec 2004 10:48:59 GMT, Anthony Guzzi put forth the notion that...

No. Your 120 volt kitchen outlets are not supposed to be fed by a 30 amp breaker in the first place, and especially off of one side of a 2- pole breaker intended for the range. This is illegal, hazardous, and your landlord is obligated to correct it.
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The heating coil may be shorting to ground, depending upon the mode of failure. Or it may have a poor connection to ground, which will take time to draw the current you need to trip the breaker.
And maybe some ranges may have fuses which should protect the coil - I've been a gas range user for the past 20 years , so I'm not up on what is fuse protected on a range.
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| There is one thing in the kitchen that is 240 volts. The electric | range. That requires a 2-pole breaker. Now that I think about it, I | learned at my work that most electric ranges use 30 amps also.
Electric ranges come in many sizes. The largest I've seen uses 60 amps.
| However I also think I remember hearing that major appliances like that | are required to be on their own seperate circuit. But this breaker very | obviously controls more than just the electric range. | Perhaps it was grandfathered in, cause that doesn't sound right.
More likely someone cheated. It needs to be fixed.
| Since I made the first post, I may have found out what the problem is, | but I am not 100% sure. She convieniently forgot to tell me earlier | that the heating coil in the oven died about the same time as all this | started happening. I think that it is now drawing too much power and | making the breaker trip. Would this be a correct?
If that element is off, it shouldn't draw anything.
But check this. Turn EVERYTHING off (all the branch breakers except this one), and turn off and unplug every appliance in the kitchen. Not go check your electric service meter and see if it is recording any usage. If it is, the oven has a problem.
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On 1 Dec 2004 09:57:15 GMT, snipped-for-privacy@ipal.net wrote:

Phil has covered most of it but I suppose the breaker isn't an arc fault or GFCI type. If the oven element is leaking to ground it could trip either of these.
The present code requires that all kitchen outlets above the counter should be on separate 15 amp breakers with the top and bottom outlets of any one receptacle on different breakers by removing the brass link that joins them. Also adjacent outlets may not be on the same pair of breakers. It sounds as though your situation is very far from the present code.
It is certainly not a safe situation so please follow Phil's advice.
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| The present code requires that all kitchen outlets above the counter | should be on separate 15 amp breakers with the top and bottom | outlets of any one receptacle on different breakers by removing the | brass link that joins them. Also adjacent outlets may not be on the | same pair of breakers. It sounds as though your situation is very | far from the present code.
Newer code only requires 2 circuits. It does not require they be split. It does require GFCI protection now, which makes splitting not an easy option (can be done, but more complex or costly). And the capacity requirement is now 20 amps (I dare then to try to raise that again). They do have to be fairly close now (2 feet) so there would be many. Alternating them between circuits makes sense, and is the way I've seen a few installations done.
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snipped-for-privacy@ipal.net wrote:

Yeah. This is an older apartment. I don't know how old.
I'm in Northern California, by the way.
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wrote:

He could also do the same warmth test a few hours after the breaker is reset - for all the kitchen receptacles and lights. Also the "Sniff" test?

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Do you have an electric stove or dryer? If its a 2 pole circuit breaker thats tripping, it is definately for an 220v circuit. When the breaker trips, what goes out in the kitchen? The lights? Fridge? I bet someone tapped off one of the phases of the 220V line to power the outlets or lights in your kitchen.
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Probably not helpful, but at least it's amusing...
I had a breaker repeatedly tripping last week in a newly installed panel and panicked myself thinking I'd f'd something up bigtime until I located the power strip that the new cat was repeatedly pissing on. True story.

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