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Causes of a Tripping Breaker
Causes of a Tripping Breaker
Feb 26,2024

Causes of a Tripping Breaker

The electrical panel, often overlooked, serves as the guardian of our electrical systems. Within the panel lies the circuit breaker, a device designed to prevent electrical hazards by automatically disconnecting power when it detects unusual electrical activity. However, many homeowners remain unaware of the mechanisms behind these tripping occurrences. In this article brought to you by Mr. Electric, we explore the inner workings of circuit breakers.

If you’d like to consult with a licensed electrician directly, then call Mr. Electric and speak with a live member of our team. We have uniformed plumbers and stocked vehicles on standby to dispatch to your location as soon as possible.

About the Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers act as sentinels and monitor electrical currents flowing through circuits. When the current exceeds safe levels due to overload, short circuit, or ground fault, the breaker trips and interrupts the circuit to prevent potential fires, shocks, or equipment damage.

Common Causes for Tripping Circuit Breakers

There are many reasons why your circuit breakers may be tripping, but here are just some of the most common causes:

  1. Overloaded Circuits: This happens when electrical circuits carry more current than they're designed to handle. Overloading can be due to plugging too many devices into a single outlet or running high-wattage appliances simultaneously. To address this, redistribute electrical loads across different circuits or install additional circuits where needed.
  2. Short Circuits: This occurs when the hot and neutral wires connect, bypassing the resistance offered by devices in the circuit. This often occurs due to damaged wires or faulty appliances. When a short circuit occurs, the sudden surge in current prompts the breaker to trip swiftly. To resolve this, identify and repair or replace the faulty wiring or appliances causing the short circuit.
  3. Ground Faults: Ground faults arise when the hot wire comes into contact with a ground surface, such as a metal outlet box or appliance casing. This can occur due to damaged insulation or faulty wiring. Ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCIs) are specifically designed to detect such anomalies and swiftly cut off power to prevent electric shocks. Install GFCIs in areas prone to moisture, such as kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor outlets.
  4. Aging or Faulty Breakers: Like all components, circuit breakers are subject to wear and tear over time. Aging breakers may become less responsive or fail to trip when needed, posing significant safety risks. Regular inspection and maintenance of electrical panels are crucial to identify and replace worn-out breakers promptly. Additionally, invest in modern circuit breakers equipped with advanced safety features.

Addressing Tripping Circuit Breakers

When a circuit breaker trips, it serves as a warning sign of potential electrical hazards. Upon tripping, safely disconnect all appliances from the affected circuit before resetting the breaker. Inspect for visible signs of damage or overheating, such as burnt smells or discoloration.

If the cause remains unclear or if the circuit breakers trip frequently, consult a qualified electrician for an electrical repair service or circuit breaker replacement. The professionals at Mr. Electric are on standby to take your call today.


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