Has your circuit breaker been tripping a lot recently? Have you been worried that you may need to replace it… that you may have a faulty breaker?
Well, the only way to know is to check. Because there may be something very wrong with it or there may be nothing wrong at all.
The cause of a tripped breaker is that there is something irregular happening with the circuit. The breaker, being the protector, wants to stop the problem before it gets any worse. It is basic prevention and it doesn’t necessarily mean that something terrible is occurring. The breaker is simply making sure that potential issues do not escalate and cause major issues in the future.
If you do not have electrical expertise it is wise to hire a professional, someone to check your circuit breaker, assess any problems, and fix them before it is too late.
If your breaker is constantly tripping, it may mean you have a bad breaker, a short circuit, or just an overloaded circuit. All of these things could point to serious underlying problems with your electrical wiring.
When you do hire a professional to check your breaker, they will test a couple of things:
- They will determine if it is a short circuit, meaning that wires are touching items they should not be.
- They will figure out if your breaker is too old and/or not strong enough to handle your current electrical needs.
- They will check to see if it is a simple case of an overloaded circuit that is causing it to trip.
If you want to do a more simple check-up yourself before hiring a professional, here are a couple of steps to go through:
Find your circuit breaker panel
The circuit breaker panel is a large metal box somewhere in your basement, hallway, storeroom, or your mud room. It is impossible to miss as it will be the most “electrical” looking thing in your home.
What to do when you find it
When you find your circuit breaker panel make sure that the floor around you and your hands are completely dry.
Once you have made sure that your hands and the ground are completely dry, you need to see if any of the breaker switches have tripped and are sitting in the “OFF” position.
If you see bare wires when you check or there are signs of possible burning when you open up your panel, DO NOT TOUCH! Make sure to contact a licensed electrician immediately as this can quickly lead to an electrical fire.
This is especially important in Southern California, as breakers can prematurely go bad from the intense heat. And we all know it can get hot!
Are you dealing with a “baked” breaker?
If your breaker is constantly tripping, there are a few ways to figure out if it needs to be replaced.
- Is there a burning smell that is coming from the breaker or the electrical panel?
- Is the breaker hot if you touch it?
- Can you see burned parts, frayed wires, or any obvious signs of wear?
If there no burnt or bare wires and it is not hot to the touch, then you may choose to switch the circuit in question back onto the “ON” position. See our video on how to reset a circuit breaker here.
This may fix everything or it may trip again, and go right back to the “OFF” position. In case of the later, there are a couple things you can do.
First, figure out which circuit is causing the issues. Thankfully, most breakers are labeled accordingly and these will tell you which circuit is to blame.
When you determine the misbehaving circuit, unplug all of the electrical appliances that are connected to that circuit. This will help you figure out if you are dealing with an overloaded circuit. For example, if you had just bought a hot tub and the related circuit keeps tripping, it is a sign that you may be overloading that circuit. So unplug the new hot tub, reset the circuit, and see if that makes a difference.
If the circuit breaker works for a bit but ultimately trips again, this is another sign of an overloaded circuit. You can spread out the appliance plugs over other circuits to avoid this or call a professional to support with a more permanent solution such as installing a new outlet.
When you flip the circuit breaker, you should hear a loud *click* (this is a good thing). If the switch trips again immediately, you start smelling burning, or if there is no resistance when you switch it, chances are your circuit breaker is damaged.
Get professional help
If you suspect a bigger issue, it is time to bring in the big guns. Pick up the phone and call your local electrician for help. Accurate is here to support you in any of your home electrical needs. Call (800) 947-1747 to schedule your appointment now.