Tips! How to Do When Circuit Breaker Trips

Circuit breakers monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit. If…

Circuit breakers monitor the flow of electricity through a circuit. If it exceeds a preset amount, it opens the circuit to stop the current flow. They’re a vital piece of your home’s electrical system. And when vacuum circuit breaker trips, they’re trying to tell you something.

How Do I Know if a Circuit Breaker Has Tripped?

If a circuit breaker has tripped, it means that the electrical current flowing in an electrical circuit has exceeded the amount that the breaker or fuse can safely handle.

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To determine if a circuit breaker has tripped, you will need to locate your home’s electrical panel and inspect the individual breakers or fuses.

If one of them is in the middle or “off” position, this indicates that the breaker has tripped. You may also notice that any outlets connected to the tripped circuit are not functioning properly.

If you suspect a circuit breaker is tripping, it’s important to identify and solve the issue as soon as possible.

The issue could be caused by a number of things such as an overloaded outlet or an appliance malfunctioning. When in doubt, contact a licensed electrician for help.

Why Your Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping

Circuit breakers trip for three main reasons:

1. Overloads

An overloaded circuit has too many things running on it at once.

For example, consider a kitchen with a microwave and an air fryer placed side by side. The electric system for kitchen small appliances is designed to be 20A. A 1,200-watt microwave requires 10A of power, while a 1,700-watt air fryer needs 14A. When running the two devices simultaneously, it puts 24 amps on an electrical circuit made for 20A.

Over time, those extra amps will damage the wires by generating excessive heat. A circuit breaker stops this overload condition by opening the circuit.

2. Short circuits

A short circuit transpires when a live wire makes contact with either another live wire, the neutral or earth. Normally, current runs on the live wire from your electrical board to an apparatus, light or any other burden. Afterwards, it returns to the board through the neutral.

In the event that hot and neutral wires come into contact with one another, the current is diverted away from its intended destination and travels directly back to the circuit breaker instead. This surge of electricity is much more powerful than what is needed to power a light or device, thus creating an incredibly hazardous situation which can lead to electric shocks and even fires.

3. Ground faults

A ground fault is a type of short circuit. Ground faults happen when a hot wire touches a non-current carrying part of the electrical circuit, like a metal box or pipe.

It’s important for that unintentional, really high current to have a place to go, so non-current carrying parts of your home’s electrical system are bonded together and connected to ground.

If there is no viable route to direct the ground fault current in a secure way, it will search for any possible route, including through you.

Ground-fault circuit interrupters (GFCI) are designed explicitly to monitor for ground faults, though regular circuit breakers also provide protection.

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What Should You Do When a Circuit Breaker Trips?

Check For Circuit Overload

Figure out which area of the house the tripped breaker controls, then turn off and unplug everything in that area. Lights, microwaves, computers, everything. Then go turn on the breaker. If the breaker trips immediately, even with nothing plugged in, it’s likely you have a short, not an overload.

If the circuit breaker remains intact, return to the room and commence plugging in and switching on each item one-by-one. Pause in between each item, then move on to the next one. When the circuit breaker trips again, you can be sure that this specific circuit has reached its capacity. If possible, try to more evenly divide the load among other circuits.

Check For a Short In a Specific Appliance

Shorts and ground faults can occur within an appliance or other electrical device when a hot wire touches the housing.

Note the last thing you plugged in when the breaker tripped while checking for an overload. If you plug that appliance or device into another circuit, does that circuit trip as well? If so, unplug the device immediately and don’t use it until it’s replaced or serviced.

 Call an Electrician for Shorts and Ground Faults in Wiring

If the breaker trips as soon as you reset it, without any electrical devices plugged in or switched on, then it is probable that something in your home’s wiring is the source of the issue.

This could be due to a slack connection at an outlet or device, or maybe even something more complex like worn insulation within your walls.

If you have expertise in electrical work and can figure out which component is causing the fault, replace it or secure the disconnected wire.

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If you do not have this knowledge or you detect a burning odor or notice scorch marks on your walls, contact an authorized electrician. You should also get in touch with an electrician if your lights are continually flickering or circuit breakers keep tripping.

Electrical fires and shocks are dangerous, and shorts and ground faults are difficult to find. A pro can diagnose and fix the issue, providing peace of mind.

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