Why Does My Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?
If you flip a switch and nothing comes on, or electricity doesn’t work in a certain area of your home, then the circuit breaker has tripped. Circuit breakers are designed to trip when they detect overheating that can cause electrical hazards; cutting off electric supply when excessive current is detected. If a breaker trips then either a fault has occurred or the breaker exceeds the rated value for longer than what is normal for application. Three common causes for repeated circuit breaker trips are: circuit overload, short circuit, and a ground fault.
A circuit overload occurs when it is trying to draw more current than it is allowed to carry. When you are running multiple devices at the same time and connected to the same circuit can cause for the circuit breaker to trip. Most often, power-hungry devices like dryers, ovens, and space heaters will be the cause because of their need for high power and more current.
Short circuits occur when the hot wire (usually black in color) comes into contact with another hot wire or touches a neutral wire (white) in one of the outlets. This causes the current to flow in large amounts and overload the circuit. Other causes may be due to incorrect wiring or faulty switches, cords, plugs or electrical appliances.
Ground faults occur when the hot wire comes into contact with the ground wire (usually green in color) or the walls of a metal box. It is extremely harmful in areas of moisture like bathrooms or kitchens. Because of this unintended contact with live wires and electrical parts, having your home equipped with Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) are important.
What Do I Do?
When you’ve experienced an electric circuit overload, first check the rated current of the device connected to the circuit breaker. If they are operating normally and the breaker is still being tripped, it was sized too small. Otherwise, the issue may lie with the device itself if it is drawing an abnormally high current. To reset a tripped circuit breaker, find the location of where your electric panel is installed. Look for the circuit switch that is facing against the other switches. In most modern electrical circuits, the breaker doesn’t turn off and instead turns off to an intermediary position. Once you find the circuit, flip it back to the ON position. If you find that the circuit breaker is tripping again after the recent, you’ll most likely need to call an electrician to analyze the causes.
He may need to install an additional electric circuit dedicated to the problem area for where the breaker keeps tripping. If you are working with motor-powered devices and welding machines, find an outlet capable of delivering the current required by the equipmentsince some circuits are not designed to handle a said amount of current.
During a short circuit fault, an inspection is always necessary by a professional. It could be possible that insulation on one or more conductors were damaged allowing for direct contact with the wires. If there is contact between a live and neutral conductor, the current may be driven as much as a hundred times higher than the rated value.
For cases involving a ground fault, an inspection is required. With the unintended contact between a live conductor and another surface, leaving it to a professional is your best bet.
When specifying a circuit breaker, you should always verify that the type matches the application. A type B circuit breaker trips at 3 to 5 times rate current, a C trips at 5 to 10 times, and D trips at 10 to 20 times. For instance, if you use a Type B breaker for a motor that will draw 8 times rated current during startup, it will not be able to start since the circuit breaker reacts as if a fault has occurred, and disconnects the motor immediately. Some thermal overloads allow the tripping current to be regulated within a range, but if trips are occurring frequently then it is not necessary to replace the breaker, but only to increase the set point. For any repeated circumstances of a breaker tripping, immediately seek a licensed electrician for help.
Ready To Install New GFCI Outlets?
At Frontline Electrical Services we take care of the work for you! You don’t have to worry about being shocked or dealing with electricity. We send the most qualified technicians to install new GFCI Outlets in your home and/or replace your outdated ones. Frontline Electrical Services cares for the well-being of you and your family. Sleep better knowing Frontline Electrical Services did the job right. Feel free to call Frontline Electrical Services at (800) 945-0268 (here is a map to us) with any questions or concerns regarding GFCI Outlets and installations!