An electrical circuit breaker is a switching device that can be operated automatically or manually for controlling and protecting the electrical power system and the electrical devices connected to it.
The circuit breaker trips when too much electricity flows through it or when it cannot handle the excess current load. This means that the flow of electricity is cut off to keep your circuits from overheating or causing more damage. If there were no circuit breaker trips, house fires would have been quite a common issue.
When a circuit breaker keeps tripping, you have to go wherever the circuit breaker is located and get the power back on again by resetting the Circuit breaker.
Table of Content
- How Do I Reset the Circuit Breaker?
- Why Does My Breaker Keep Tripping?
- How Can I Tell if My Circuit Breaker Has Gone Bad?
- What Should I Do When the Breaker Keeps Tripping?
How Do I Reset the Circuit Breaker?
If your circuit breaker keeps tripping, you will have to reset it. To reset it, turn off the breaker by moving the switch and then turn it back on. For your own safety, stand at a safe distance from the panel in case of any sparks, or wear safety goggles. Before you unplug and plug devices, reset the circuit breaker to determine the cause of tripping.
Even though the tripped circuit breaker ensures safety, it can get quite frustrating to constantly experience them and get the power back on repeatedly.
Why Does My Breaker Keep Tripping?
If there is frequent tripping in your circuit breaker, it indicates something going wrong with the circuit. There may be a short circuit in one of your appliances or a ground fault. Maybe there is a circuit overload or a sign indicating the circuit breaker box is faulty. Keep an eye out for all of these reasons that might be causing your circuit breaker to trip more frequently.
If you know the reason behind the constant tripping, you can do something about it. Let us look at the five main reasons that cause circuit breakers to trip.
1. Circuit Overload
A circuit overload is one of the main reasons for constantly tripped circuit breakers. This occurs when you want a particular circuit to provide more electricity than its actual capacity. This will lead to overheating the circuit, which puts all the electrical appliances connected to the circuit at risk.
For example, if your television is connected to the circuit which actually needs 15 amps but is now using 20 amps, then the circuit of the television system will get fried and damaged. The circuit breaker trips to prevent this from happening, potentially even preventing a major fire.
You can address this issue by trying to redistribute your electrical devices and keeping them off of the same circuits as recommended by fellow electrical repairmen. You can even turn off some devices to reduce the electrical load on the circuit breaker.
2. Short Circuits
Another common reason that causes a breaker to trip is a short circuit, which is more dangerous than an overloaded circuit. A short circuit is caused when a “hot” wire comes into contact with a “neutral wire” in one of your electrical outlets. Whenever this happens, a large amount of current will flow through the circuit, creating more heat than what the circuit can handle. When this happens the breaker will keep tripping, shutting off the circuit to prevent dangerous events such as a fire.
Short circuits could occur for a number of reasons, such as faulty wiring or a loose connection. You can identify a short circuit by a burning smell that is usually left around the breaker. Additionally, you may also notice a brown or black discoloration around it.
3. Ground Fault Surges
Ground fault surges are similar to short circuits. They occur when a hot wire touches a ground wire that is made of bare copper or the side of a metal outlet box which is connected to the ground wire. This will cause more electricity to pass through it which the circuit cannot handle. The breaker trips in order to protect the circuit and appliances from overheating or from potential fires.
If ground fault surges occur, you can identify them through a discoloration around your outlet.
4. Defective Circuit Breaker
If the above reasons are not causing circuit breaker tripping, then maybe your circuit breaker is at fault. When the breaker is old and cannot produce electricity anymore, it’s time to replace it. Moreover, it is bound to wear out if not maintained.
If your breaker has gone bad, you may experience a burnt smell, frequent tripping, unable to reset, or scorch marks on the breaker box.
5. Arc Fault
Generally, arc fault is also considered to be a major reason behind frequently tripped circuit breakers. An arc fault happens when loose or corroded wires create a short contact that causes an arc or a spark. This creates heat and can risk an electrical fire. If you hear your light switch hissing or the outlet buzzing, you are experiencing an arc fault.
If you avoid or overlook any of these problems, you are putting the safety of your home and loved ones at great risk. If you experience tripping of the circuit breakers quite frequently, it is time to call in the professionals to investigate the problem. Do not try to handle this issue on your own.
How Can I Tell if My Circuit Breaker Has Gone Bad?
Like other electrical appliances, even circuit breakers can become faulty. You have to look out for the following warning signs:
- Burning smell from the box
- Breaker keeps tripping frequently
- Scorch marks or other signs of damage on the circuit box
- Breaker does not stay at the reset mode
What Should I Do When the Breaker Keeps Tripping?
A lightning strike or a heavily overloaded outlet can cause too much stress on the circuit breaker. This can cause it to trip frequently. Here’s what you should do if the breaker keeps tripping:
- Unplug devices: Manually switch off any devices and then unplug them. This is necessary because once the power surges back and the devices are still on, it might affect them adversely.
- Reset the circuit box: Go to the circuit breaker and switch it off or remove the fuse. Turn it on again. This is how you reset a circuit breaker.
- Check the reasons: Inspect the circuit box again and check whether any of the above reasons tick the current situation of your circuit breaker.
- Switch on the devices: You need to test the circuit by switching on all the lights and appliances you unplug. This will give you an idea of what is causing the breaker to trip.
- Check or replace: Once you check all the devices, decide whether you need to replace the circuit breaker with a new one.
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