Things to Do When a Circuit Breaker Trips
For any household electrical system, circuit breakers are crucial in ensuring safety and preventing electrical fires. However, it's not uncommon for a circuit breaker to trip unexpectedly, leaving you in the dark or without power to essential appliances.
Discover why your circuit breaker might trip, what to do when it happens, and how to prevent it from occurring frequently. Read on!
Know Your Circuit Breakers
Before we delve into the troubleshooting process, let’s briefly understand what circuit breakers are and how they work. A circuit breaker is a vital component of your home’s electrical system.
It acts as a safety feature designed to cut off the flow of electricity in case of an overload or a short circuit. Protection coordination is also important for protecting the load and system components. It ensures that the downtime on the healthy circuits in a given system can be reduced and minimised.
Types of Circuit Breakers
- Standard circuit breakers: These are the most common circuit breakers in residential properties. They are designed to handle various electrical loads and are typically rated at 15, 20, or 30 amps.
- Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs): GFCIs are specialised circuit breakers that protect against ground faults or electrical leakages. They are commonly used in areas with water, such as kitchens and bathrooms, to prevent electric shocks.
- AFCI circuit breakers: AFCI (Arc-Fault Circuit Interrupter) breakers are designed to detect dangerous electrical arcs, such as those caused by damaged wiring or faulty appliances, and prevent fires.
Why Does a Circuit Breaker Trip?
Understanding the reasons behind a tripped circuit breaker is the first step in resolving the issue. Here are some common causes:
- Overloaded circuit: Connecting too many devices or appliances to a single circuit can lead to an overload. This excessive electrical load triggers the circuit breaker to trip as a safety measure. To prevent this, consider redistributing your electrical devices across different circuits.
- Short circuit: A short circuit occurs when a hot (live) wire comes into direct contact with a neutral wire. This creates a low-resistance path for electricity to flow, resulting in a sudden surge of current and a tripped circuit breaker. Identifying and fixing the faulty wiring or damaged appliances causing the short circuit is crucial.
- Ground fault: Ground faults happen when a hot wire comes into contact with a ground wire or a grounded part of an electrical device. GFCI circuit breakers are designed to detect ground faults and trips to prevent electrical shocks.
- Electrical issues: Sometimes circuit breakers trip due to underlying electrical problems within your home’s wiring system. Loose connections, corroded wires, or faulty junction boxes can all contribute to frequent tripping.
What to Do When a Circuit Breaker Trips
When a circuit breaker trips, here are the steps you should follow to safely restore power and prevent further issues:
- Identify the tripped circuit: Locate the circuit breaker panel in your home. It’s usually found in the basement, utility room, or garage. Open the panel and visually inspect the breakers. The tripped one will be in the middle or “off” position.
- Switch off appliances: Before attempting to reset the breaker, switch off or unplug any appliances connected to that circuit. This prevents an immediate overload when the power is restored.
- Reset the breaker: To reset the circuit breaker, firmly push it to the “off” position and back to the “on” position. If it trips again immediately, a more significant issue may be at play, and it’s advisable to consult a licensed electrician.
- Investigate the cause: Once the breaker is reset, cautiously turn on your appliances individually. When your circuit breaker keeps tripping when a specific device is switched on, it may be faulty and should be inspected or replaced.
- Call a professional: If the circuit breaker continues to trip or you suspect an underlying electrical issue, contacting a qualified electrician is essential. They can thoroughly inspect your home’s electrical system and address any potential hazards.
Preventing Circuit Breaker Trips
Prevention is often the best course of action. To reduce the likelihood of circuit breaker trips, consider the following:
- Distribute electrical loads: Spread your electrical devices across multiple circuits to avoid overloading any single one. This is particularly important in areas with heavy appliance use, like kitchens and home offices.
- Regular maintenance: Schedule basic routine inspections of your home’s electrical system. Check for loose connections, corroded wires, and other potential issues that could lead to circuit breaker trips.
- Upgrade your electrical system: If your home has an older electrical system, it may be time for an upgrade. A certified electrician can modernise your wiring and install AFCI and GFCI breakers to enhance safety and reduce the risk of tripped breakers. They can also do circuit breaker testing to protect your appliances from being damaged by faults.
Let’s Keep Your Home Safe and Your Circuits in Top Shape
A tripped circuit breaker can be inconvenient, but it’s a vital safety feature to protect your home from electrical hazards.
Understanding the causes of circuit breaker trips and taking proactive measures can ensure a reliable and safe electrical system in your home. Remember, if you ever encounter persistent or unexplained tripping, don’t hesitate to call a qualified electrician for a thorough assessment.
In a nutshell, when faced with a circuit breaker that keeps tripping, whether it’s a tripped breaker on a particular circuit or the same circuit repeatedly, Cyber Electrical is here to help.
Our expert services cover all your electrical panel needs, ensuring that your circuit breakers effectively protect your home and your appliances. Don’t let overloaded circuits or ground fault surges disrupt your life; contact us today for top-notch electrical wiring solutions.
Trust Cyber Electrical for all your circuit breaker and electrical panel needs. Contact us now!
Please note: This information is provided for advice purposes only. Regulations differ from state to state, so please consult your local authorities or an industry professional before proceeding with any work. See Cyber Electrical’s Terms & Conditions here.