My breaker keeps tripping - What should I do?

Posted by Chris Corley on Mar 5, 2012 5:50:58 AM

Circuit breakers are electrical safety devices meant to protect your house, your household equipment and you. They are supposed to make sure that you do not overload your electrical circuit. When a circuit breaker trips there is generally no reason to be alarmed. It trips to stop the surge of electricity that is more than what the circuit can allow. When circuit breaker trips it is just doing its job of protecting the circuit from overloading and overheating that could cause damage and even fire.

If after resetting the circuit breaker and flipping on the switch, it trips again you should to check the reason why it keeps tripping. It could be any one of the following causes:

Circuit overload
The typical reason why a circuit breaker would trip is because of a circuit overload that occurs when there is electrical energy flowing through a circuit that is more than it can handle. This can be remedied by reducing the electrical load or redistributing the power to more than one circuit. If you have five household appliances connected to the circuit that trips repeatedly, turning off one or two of these appliances or moving them to a circuit that is less loaded will lessen the load on the troubled circuit.

Loose connections may also cause a circuit overload. Turn off the power and look for loose wires by inspecting outlets as well as the hot wire that connects the circuit breaker to the electrical service panel. Tighten the loose connection to remedy the problem.

Short circuit
If circuit overload is not the reason why your circuit breaker keeps tripping, it could be one other reason that is more serious and dangerous, a short circuit. A short circuit happens when a live wire touches another live or neutral wire. A broken wire can also cause a short circuit. It is more difficult to identify since it could be any point in your home’s wiring connected to the circuit or could be caused by an appliance plugged into an outlet.

Looking for the short circuit is a tedious process. All the wiring, plugs and outlets connected to the circuit have to be inspected to check for any sign of burning, cracked or broken insulation with wires touching each other. If you need assistance, contact a licensed electrician.

Ground Fault
If the reason for the repeated tripping of your circuit breaker is not circuit overload or a short circuit then it could be ground fault. This condition is caused by a hot wire touching the ground wire or a metal outlet box. To remedy a ground fault, make sure that the hot wire does not touch the ground wire or metal outlet box.

Topics: Electrical

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