Reply by Tennessee

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Posted on Electrical problem, or tool failure?

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2873 posts in 2536 days

#1 posted 10-23-2012 02:12 PM

Boy, there are a lot of possible problems here.
Although No. 12 wire is good for 20 amps, before you run over and put in a 20 amp breaker, turn off the existing breaker and check the outlet to see if the wires are tight in the outlet. A lot of times, if a wire gets warm and cold it will expand and loosen the connection. This causes an amperage rise, and a voltage loss, which would explain why your lathe motor was running so hot and the breaker finally tripped. Also check the connections at the fusebox, if you think you can be safe going behind the safety panel cover.

The second thing is the length of the run. Lots of times, garages are either right where the breaker box is, or it may be on the other side of the house, which lowers the load capacity of the 12 gauge wire.

The bearing issue in the lathe is also in play, but I would think it would be noticable hot or cold, and might put out some sort of sound.

You said the DC tripped the breaker, but you indicated that they were both put into the same outlet, so how did you come to that conclusion? If you put it in separately, it then has to be the circuit, since it is doubtful that both the lathe and DC are going at the same time. And a drill press probably pulls a lot less amperage at a free spin, without any real load.

Just a few things to check out. Whenever I moved into a new house, I always dropped back the breakers, (especially on older houses), to 15 and 20 amps, until I knew everything was safe.
Remember, the one place where most fires occur is where the connections are made, outlets, switches, breaker and screw connections. That’s because they are the weak links in an otherwise solid copper run.

-- Tsunami Guitars and Custom Woodworking, Cleveland, TN

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