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Old 06-06-2021, 11:02 AM   #1
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Breaker tripping

We have a 2007 DSDP 4023. The front roof air and the electric element for the hydro hot are on one Breaker with 2-20 amp triggers. The trigger for the AC unit tripped yesterday and the breaker felt " excessively" warm compared to the other breakers. I reset and restarted the AC. It ran well for 4-5 min then tripped again. I turned off the Hydro-hot heat element at the dash not the breaker and restarted the AC with the fan on auto. It came on and ran fine. I left everything in this position and the AC did not trip through the night. When I got home I plugged in and had the ac on and the breaker felt normal. I then turned on the hot water element and 30 min later the breaker felt much warmer. The heater has now been off for 90 min and the breaker is just warm to touch and the AC is cycling on and off normally and air is cool.
Do I have a weak breaker that needs replaced, a bad AC starter capacitor?
Trouble shooting guidance would be appreciated.
Thanks.
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Old 06-06-2021, 11:32 AM   #2
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Snds like a problem with the water heater element...that's where I'd concentrate my efforts. That breaker has now been heat stressed several times so after you find the problem, change it out with a new one.

Depending on how the heater element is made, it can crack inside of the tube and a short can develop from the element to the metal of the tube. This causes higher current in the element, and it still seems to be heating the water correctly.

I'd put an ammeter on the leads to the heater element. I believe it should be in the 8-12 amp range.

Here's an example of the type of heating element I'm thinking of...not saying this is yours, but possibly similar to yours, this one draws 12.5 amps: Hot Springs heating element.
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Old 06-06-2021, 11:49 AM   #3
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Check all of your connections on the back of the breaker. Make sure they are tight.
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Old 06-06-2021, 12:14 PM   #4
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I've heard folks talk about the elusive "weak breaker". I suspect there is such a thing but I bet it's about as elusive as Sasquatch.

I'd probably start with connections then check the heater. First I'd check the voltage as low voltage causes current to increase then I'd slap on a clamp meter and see whose pulling all the current.

I'm not 100% sure what you mean by a "trigger".
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Old 06-07-2021, 10:25 AM   #5
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I have checked the connections to the breaker and they seem tight.

I too was wondering about the heat element. The element would be inside the hydro-Hot unit so I would have to check draw at the breaker.

By "Trigger" I was referring to two switchs on the Cutler-Hammer 2020 breaker. It is One breaker with two single pole connections. One for the AC, One for the Heat element. Each has its own on/off switch or reset trigger.
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Old 06-07-2021, 11:33 AM   #6
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a molded case circuit breaker has two internal trip elements
1) Magnetic, short-term, short-circuit trip
2) Thermal, long-term, over-current trip (inverse time)

If the magnetic element is bad the breaker usually stays tripped
If the thermal element is going bad, the breaker wouldn't carry full rated current

a 20 amp breaker would carry 20 amps indefinitely without tripping
a general rule of thumb is to only load breakers to 80% of their rating

if you suspect the breaker is "weak" you should take a clamp on ammeter, clamp it around the wire going to the breaker and see how much current is being drawn through the breaker. if it is >20amps then it is going to trip. if it is <20amps then it shouldn't trip unless there is a fault.

Given the breaker felt hot, there is probably a lot of current being drawn through it.

You said there are two handles on the breaker so the breaker is a "tandem" breakers or essentially two separate breakers built into one case. This is done to get more breakers in a panel.

so if the both are the same size e.g. both 20amps then swap the wires from one breaker to the other (with the power off). then your aquahot will be operating thru the other breaker. If the other breaker is no tripping then the problem is not the breaker.

I hope this helps
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Old 06-07-2021, 11:39 AM   #7
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What happens if you run you test the other way - turn off the AC and turn on the Hydro-Hot - does the breaker get warm?
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Old 06-07-2021, 11:47 AM   #8
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I do not know why you have these two components on same circuit in load box they should be separated, both will draw to much current in their individual operations.
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Old 06-07-2021, 12:03 PM   #9
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I do not know why you have these two components on same circuit in load box they should be separated, both will draw to much current in their individual operations.
I agree. Too much potential heat in a small area. I'd try to separate them if I could. Maybe move the water heater element to a single, and move the single wire over to the dual. If possible, according to available room and setup of course.
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Old 06-08-2021, 09:57 AM   #10
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Thanks all. I will try switching the wiring to see if the breaker still heats up. Also will try the clamp on Ammeter.
I'm also going to have a guy do an amp test at the compressor to see what it is pulling when the compressor starts.
What makes me lean toward the failing break is that with the aqua hot element on with the AC the heat was high and the breaker tripped. Once the aqua hot was turned off the AC ran as it should. I'm hoping the Roof AC is not bad ($$$$$$), plus the units with a heat pump are not available and could be several months until I could get one.
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Old 06-08-2021, 01:05 PM   #11
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You still need to separate the two circuits from one another, they each require their own circuit breaker, you will eliminate the problem.
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Old 06-09-2021, 08:36 AM   #12
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"007".
That's a good idea. I'll have to see if : 1. I have the ability to place 2 single 20 amp breakers in the single opening. 2. If not possible, see if i have a knock out to fit another 20amp breaker.
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Old 06-11-2021, 01:05 PM   #13
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Well I can close this post and say thanks to all of you for your assistance.
The result was that the start up amp draw is 15 amps and the running amps are 12 so the problem was too much juice into one housing at one time. I did speak with Aqua Hot and asked if the heating element could be faulty and cause excessive amp draw and heat and the said no. It either works of it fails.
007 I did as you suggested and split from a duplex breaker to two single 20 breakers and things feel better and I am more relaxed.
Once again thanks to all. Safe Travels.
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Old 06-13-2021, 04:35 PM   #14
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Good for you Therapy Guy, you can relax no therapy needed.
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