Circuit breaker trips are one of the most common household problems and can be caused by several factors. While most tripped circuits can be fixed by a quick check of your electrical panel, others can pose serious fire hazards or other expensive repairs. Talking to a specialist is always a good idea, but before contacting your local electrical services professional, it's essential to learn how to tell the difference between the most common causes of a tripped circuit.
How Does a Circuit Breaker Work?
A circuit breaker is a home safety device that protects you from fires and other hazards that short circuits and other electrical issues can cause. All the electrical current that runs through your home passes through your circuit breaker. If the flow of electricity becomes too great at any point, the circuit will break, cutting off power completely.
How Can You Tell You Have a Tripped Circuit?
It is usually pretty simple to tell when you have a tripped circuit as your lights and appliances will no longer work. To know for sure, check your fuse box to see whether all the circuit breakers are flipped on. If any of them are in the off position, you can flip it back on to reset it. If your circuits keep tripping repeatedly, it may be a good idea to call an electrical services professional.
Top Reasons Why Your Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping
There are various reasons why your circuit breaker trips, from problems with your home appliances to wiring issues to issues with your fuse box itself. Learn how to tell the difference between all of the most common reasons for a circuit breaker tripping before you call an electrical services professional.
An overloaded circuit is the most common cause for a circuit breaker trip. It happens when you have too many appliances running simultaneously, and your electricity flows at a greater rate than your circuit will allow. While it may be inconvenient, the fact is that this is what your circuit breaker is designed for: protecting your home against electrical fires or other hazards.
The good news is that an overloaded circuit is easy to fix. Simply turn off some of your appliances before resetting the breaker.
A short circuit is a bit more serious than an overloaded circuit and more challenging to diagnose. One type of short circuit is called a "hard short," which is when a hot wire touches a neutral wire, causing your circuit to trip. In other cases, a short circuit can result in your appliances due to loose connections in the wiring. Either way, the result is an extreme increase in electrical power, causing a circuit trip or a fuse break.
Your ground wires are a safety mechanism designed to give excess power in your electrical circuit a safe place to go. In the event of a ground fault, a hot wire comes into contact with this ground wire or touches metal elements such as your service panel. Ground fault circuit interrupters are made to shut off power to the circuit in this event, though in some cases, it can result in a tripped circuit.
Arc faults — a less common cause of a tripped circuit — happen when your electrical systems come into contact with loose screws or other objects, creating sparking. While rare, arc faults can pose a severe fire hazard or lead to expensive electrical repairs. If your circuit breaker is regularly tripping, it's time to turn to a professional. For more information about our services, including electrical panel installation or electrical wiring in Birmingham, AL, contact our team today.