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Why Is My Circuit Breaker Tripping?

Whether it is happening every few days, multiple times a day or repeatedly as you work, having your circuit breaker trip can be a pain! It interrupts your day, stops you in your tracks and could even cause you to lose work. While this can be frustrating, keep in mind that your circuit breaker is a safety mechanism, and it is there for a reason. Your circuit breaker is designed to shut off the electrical current when something goes wrong, protecting your family and home from an electrical fire. So when the circuit breaker trips, it is time to investigate the problem. You may be able to solve some circuit breaker issues yourself, while others may require an electrical professional.

Circuit Breaker Basics

You may know the circuit breaker is the gray box in your laundry room or spare space, but what does it actually do? Let us break down the basics of a circuit breaker. Electricity from your local utility company runs through a cable directly into your breaker panel, also called a service panel. This service panel is filled with individual circuits – wiring loops that start and end in the service panel – through which electricity flows. The “on/off” switches you see in your breaker box control the separate circuits throughout your home. When a breaker trips, the switch for that circuit automatically flips to “off,” which you must manually turn back on to get the electricity flowing again.

Reasons Why a Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

If a breaker is repeatedly tripping, there means there is a problem with something in the electrical in your home. Do not just keep resetting the switch to “on!” Instead, take a few minutes to explore why the breaker is tripping, and how it can be fixed.

Circuit Overload

A circuit overload is one of the main reasons a breaker may trip repeatedly. This happens if you are trying to draw more electricity than a circuit has the capacity to give, which leads to overheating over the circuit. If the breaker did not trip, it would put all the electrical appliances on the circuit at risk. For example, if you have ever plugged in too many electrical appliances in your kitchen while trying to cook a big dinner on Christmas, only to have the breaker connected to the kitchen trip, causing everything to stop. If the breaker did not trip, it could fry one or more of the electrical appliances, potentially causing an electrical fire.

The Solution:

Redistribute your electrical devices; move some to another area of your home or wait until one device is finished working to use another device.

Short Circuit

A short circuit is another cause for a tripped breaker and can be even more dangerous than an overloaded circuit. A short circuit is caused when a “hot” wire, or a wire carrying electricity from the breaker box, comes in contact with a “neutral” wire inside one of your electrical outlets. If this happens, a large amount of current will flow through the circuit, creating more heat than the circuit can handle. Your service panel will shut off the circuit to prevent dangerous events like a fire.

The Solution:

Unless you are very familiar with electrical work, this is one that you might want to leave to the professionals, as it will require some electrical repair. Contact an electrical professional, like the team at Central Heating, so schedule an electrician appointment. Do not use the outlet or circuit until the problem is solved.

Ground Fault Surges

Similar to a short circuit, a ground fault surge occurs when a “hot”’ wire touches a ground wire, usually made of copper, or the side of a metal outlet box that is connected to a ground wire. Again, this causes more electricity to pass through the circuit than the circuit can handle. The breaker will trip to prevent overheating or fires.

The Solution:

You can identify a ground fault surge by discoloration around the outlet. Ground fault surges can cause big problems in your home, so do not overlook this issue. If your breakers are tripping frequently, contact your electrical professional to have them inspect the issue.

Is your circuit breaker repeatedly tripping? Do not worry; contact the team at T & H Electric today and our team of expert electrical professionals can inspect the issue. We will provide you with a quick solution so you can get back to enjoying your home in peace.

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