Why Does My Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?

Four 1 pole circuit breakers fitted in a meter box.jpg

A tripping circuit breaker can be very frustrating. It may be a minor issue that can be resolved by unplugging a few devices. However, sometimes it is a sign that something more dangerous is going on that needs the attention of an electrician. We asked the team from Connect Electric what the most common reasons for a tripped circuit breaker are.
The Circuit is Overloaded
Our lives are powered by electricity. Most modern households rely on many appliances, computers, and devices that need energy to run. This has led to the need for more outlets and higher power capacity.
Circuit breakers can trip due to an overload. This occurs when too many things are pulling electricity at a time. The excessive demand causes the circuit breaker to heat up, which triggers the tripping mechanism. The breaker will not work again until you manually reset it.
This is a common problem in older homes that were built during a time when people used less electricity. Some people try to make up for the lack of outlets by using power strips. This can create a hazardous situation. If you have overloaded circuits, speak to an electrician to find out if it is time to upgrade your electric system.
Something is Short Circuiting
Short circuits can also cause breakers to trip. This is not something that should be ignored. If a hot wire touches a neutral wire, it creates a hard short which can easily result in an electrical fire. Increased current and lower resistance allow energy to flow within the breaker, which activates the tripping mechanism.
Wiring problems aren’t the only thing that can cause a short circuit. They can occur due to a malfunctioning appliance or device. This makes them harder to diagnose. You may have a short circuit if the breaker trips again immediately after resetting.
Hot Wires Cause Ground Faults
A ground fault is another type of short circuit. This happens when a hot wire contacts the ground wire, metal wall box, or wood framing. These are a serious concern, especially in areas that have more moisture like a bathroom or kitchen. Outdoor locations are also a concern because of their exposure to the elements.
Ground faults are a serious shock risk and should be dealt with immediately. The best way to handle this situation is to prevent it altogether by following all building codes when constructing, updating, or adding on to a structure.
Just like a hard short, a ground fault will cause the circuit breaker to trip immediately after resetting. If this happens, contact an electrician right away.
Power Fluctuations from Arc Faults
Arcing refers to sparking between two contact points in a wired connection. This can happen due to a loose screw in a switch or outlet. An arc fault detection device can protect your home or business from fire caused by arc faults. This component is not a mandatory requirement but comes as a recommended addition. If you plan to build or renovate in the future, you should check current building codes to verify that no changes have been made to the requirements for electrical work.

If your circuit breaker trips often, you should talk to a professional. An electrician can determine the cause and recommend the best course of action to take to keep your home safe and powered.

Image By Bidgee - Own workCC BY-SA 3.0Link


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