How to fix a circuit breaker that keeps tripping
Circuit breakers are those protective devices which are used to keep people and their electrical items safe and free from fire and surge. When one of them trips(shuts off the electrical flow), it means something went wrong in the circuit: in general a circuit overloaded .An immediate consequence is that an appliance or lamp connected to that circuit breaker goes dead . The lever of the circuit breaker is “off”. If you try to put it back to its initial position, and you hear it snapping and remains to that position, it means there is a deeper problem.
A faulty circuit breaker needs to be replaced in some cases.
No matter how smart you are , a strong background is strictly recommended to solve these kinds of issues .
Why does a circuit breaker keeps tripping
These are the main reasons :
- Short circuit: It happens when the hot wire comes into a contact with the neutral or another hot wire. When it happens, a large amount of current flows though the circuit due to lowered resistance ,creating more heat that it can possibly handle. A short circuit may be caused due to faulty equipment or appliances, outlets or plugs. This is why a short circuit may be difficult to detect and fix. Short circuits are fire hazards.
- Overloaded circuit: This is the most common reason of a tripped circuit breaker . It occurs when many power hungry systems are running on the same circuit. Consequently, it means that more current is flowing through the circuit. The circuit breaker will then trip because the load amperage exceeds the limit for which it has been designed for. follow this link to know how to avoid an overload .
Let’s take an example, a circuit breaker rated at 15 amps cannot handle a 20 amps load . It trips automatically trip and shuts the current off. In these case, you have 02 solutions:
- Shut the appliances that caused the overload off.
- Disconnect those appliances and reconnect them in another circuit.
- Wrong circuit breaker: Depending on the application for which the circuit breaker is connected to, the electrician may use the wrong circuit breaker . The type of the circuit breaker should match the application. It is not common to have bad circuit breaker as they can last for years. A type B circuit breaker for instance will never be able to start up a motor like a type D.
- Ground fault: A ground fault is similar to a short circuit. It occurs when a hot wire touches a ground wire or a portion of an appliance that is grounded. Most of the times, a ground fault results from an insulation breakdown. It’s harmful in areas of moisture like bathrooms or kitchen. For this reason, a GFCI must be installed there. It prevents the electrical hazards like electrical shocks or electrocution.
- Arc faults: An arc fault circuit breaker is a special circuit breaker designed to detect arc faults. An arc fault is the flow of electricity over an unintended path. They are more sensitive and more accurate than ordinary circuits breakers or fuses. Arc faults receptacles are used as an alternative solutions of arc fault circuits breakers in some places.
Locate a tripped circuit breaker
First things first, locate a tripped circuit breaker. It is mostly found in utility area. Check the control panel . After opening it, there is a bank of circuit breakers arranged in the same manner and at the same position. If one of them is “off” ( a different position than the others) then put it down. If you don’t see any circuit box, then you might have an old installation made of fuses. In this case, the approach of troubleshooting is completely different.
how to fix a circuit breaker that keeps tripping:
- Put the level of the circuit breaker to its « ON » position. If you succeed and light comes back that’s good for the moment; it means there is no immediate issue, but it also means that you need to check your system again or call a licensed electrician .
- If the level of the circuit breaker goes to its initial position and trips again, it is due to one of the previous reasons. In this case:
- Unplug all the appliances.
- Then plug in appliances one after another to see which appliance is the faulty one.
- If no specific appliance trips the circuit breaker, chances are, your circuit get overloaded. In this case, let an electrician upgrade your panel.
- If the circuit breaker remains at the “off” position, contact a professional. He will fix the problem and deliver the best solution for your home.
It is always recommended to avoid humid or wet areas when dealing with electricity, especially for non-experienced people.
Electricity can be dangerous and quickly become harmful if not well handled. A circuit breaker that keeps tripping hide serious problems. In general, if the same problem occurs frequently in electricity, or elsewhere, you should call an expert . Electricians are trained to take on every electrical challenge . Unless you are certain with the process, it’s smart to let them solve the problems related to circuits breakers.