How to fix a circuit breaker that keeps tripping

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fix a circuit breaker that keeps tripping

Circuit breakers are those protective devices that are used to keep people and their  electrical items safe. When one of them trips, it means  something went  wrong  and someone has to handle it. A direct  consequence is  an appliance or a lamp that  suddenly goes dead under that specific circuit breaker. The lever of the circuit  breaker is  “off” . If you try  to put it back to its initial position, you hear it snapping and remains to that position.

A faulty circuit breaker need to be changed in some cases.

No matter how clever you are , having a background in such problems it’s crucial to get over them .

Why a circuit breaker  keeps tripping

. These are the main reasons why you have  experienced a tripped circuit breaker:

  • Defective equipment: due to age, bad use or wrong repair  an appliance may cause a circuit breaker to trip. This problem is difficult to identify and  can become a serious nightmare. A faulty appliance tends to create a short circuit when plugging into an outlet.  I have experienced this kind of problem in the past.  It took   the whole day to identify the source of the problem which lay in a  computer.
  • Short circuit: it happens when the hot wire comes into a contact with  the neutral  or another hot wire. As i said earlier a faulty equipment can be at the origin. When a short circuit occurs, a great amount of current will flow inside the circuit and creates heat. In case of a tripping between the hot and the neutral it is the abnormal presence of the current inside the neutral which causes the trip.
  • Overload: this is i think one of the main reasons of a tripped circuit breaker . it means that  more current  is flowing through the circuit.  the circuit breaker will then  trips because the load amperage exceed the limit  for which it was designed for.   follow this link to know how to avoid an overload .                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         For example, a circuit breaker rated at 15 amps cannot handle a 20 amps load . It will automatically trips and shut the current off. in these case, you have 02 solutions:
  1.     shut the appliances that caused the overload off.
  2.  Disconnect those appliances and  reconnect them in another circuit.
  • No regular checking: always advised but never applied. Almost every electrician in this world will advise you to inspect  your electrical system  at least once a year. Controls are made to avoid these type of issues. An electrical  system that is constantly checked, offers good  safety precautions for you and your family.
  • faulty or bad circuit breaker: the circuit breaker can be damaged and not work properly simply because it’s bad. In this case , you solve the problem by replacing it with another one . But note that this kind of issues is very uncommon and you will rarely see that.
  • Ground fault: it  occurs when a hot wire touches a ground wire or a portion of an appliance or other device that is grounded. This fault may not be only  detected in your outlets. They are frequently the result of an insulation breakdown. Like a short circuit, large amounts of current, that electrical systems cannot compensate , will flow through the circuit.consequently, the circuit breaker opens.
  • Bad wiring: performed by you or an handyman,  a bad wiring can also cause a circuit breaker to trip. loose connections from an outlet for example can become hot enough to trip the breaker. Because a loose connection can lead to arching and might therefore not get noticed by a standard circuit breaker, one of  the best solution to fix this type of fault is to install an Arch fault circuit interrupter. You can find more here.
  • Old installations: In humid areas and many old installations, you can come across corroded cables.Those cables can easily trip a breaker, in spite off their lack of conductivity.

Identify the tripped circuit breaker 

When a circuit breaker trips, what to do first is to locate it. It is commonly found in a utility area. Look for the main circuit breaker box and when you find it, open it. You will see 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:

  1. 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 that there is no immediate issue, but it also means that you have to check your system or call for a licensed electrician for inspection because something is wrong.
  2. 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 appliances in one after another to see which one is the source of the problem. If you succeed then that appliance is the faulty one. Contact a technician.
  • If not, plug all the appliances and if the circuit breaker keeps tripping, it is likely  an overload. In this case, call for an electrician and get your panel upgraded.
  1. If the circuit breaker remains at the “off” position, contact a professional. He will fix the problem and find the best solution to keep you safe and avoid such inconvenience in the future.

It is always recommended to avoid humid or wet areas when dealing with electricity, especially for non-experienced people. If this is your case , a professional  is of greater help .

Electricity can be dangerous if not well handled. A circuit breaker that keeps tripping  might hide serious problems. Note also that a circuit breaker that is reset today may  still trip the next day. It all depends on your level of expertise or professionalism .so know your zone of comfort and only do work for which you have been trained for. Always have an electrician in case of doubts.

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