What to Do If You Trip a Circuit Breaker

June 22, 2018

A circuit breaker is a safety device that protects your electric circuits from damage during events like electrical overloads and short circuits. Most residential breaker boxes are typically located in the garage, basement or out on the side of the house.

So, did you trip a circuit breaker in your home? Let’s ask a residential electrician in Carlsbad, NM what to do!

Resetting a tripped circuit breaker

When a circuit breaker “trips,” this means the circuit detected a problem. Tripping shuts down the circuit in an attempt to prevent the wiring from overheating and potentially catching fire. You’ll know the breaker has been tripped because lights, appliances and plugged-in electronic devices will turn off. Depending on where the box is located, you might even hear a click or pop as the switches in the breaker box move from one side to the other. What should you do?

Resetting a tripped circuit breaker is actually a pretty simple fix. After a circuit trips, go to your breaker box and look at the electrical panel, locate the circuit switch that’s pointing in the opposite direction of the other switches and flip it back to its original position. If it stays in place after that, the issue is fixed. However, it’s a problem if the breaker trips again right after a reset.

Categories of tripped circuit breakers

Did your circuit breaker trip immediately after being reset? You will have to do some investigating to figure out the cause of the problem. Below are four things that could be the issue:

  • Overloaded circuit: Topping the list is an overloaded circuit. This means more current is flowing through the circuit than it’s designed to carry, so it shuts off to prevent damage. This is likely to happen if too many appliances are in use at the same time on one circuit, because more power is being drawn than the circuit can handle. The circuit may overheat and trip the breaker.
  • Short circuit: Short circuits happen when a hot (black) wire touches another hot or neutral wire in an outlet, fixture or your home’s wiring system. The current will flow between the wires quickly, possibly causing overheating. This makes a short circuit a little more serious than an overloaded circuit.
  • Ground fault: If you don’t have an overloaded or short circuit, the problem might be due to a ground fault. A ground fault is created when a hot wire crosses a ground (bare) wire or touches the walls of a metal outlet box or a grounded junction box. The circuit could overheat as the current flows at a rapid pace between the two.
  • Faulty appliance: Another cause of a tripped circuit breaker is a faulty home appliance. Short circuits and ground faults can occur within the wiring of individual appliances. This happening can definitely overheat circuits.

Many tripped circuit breakers can be fixed with a simple flip of a switch in the breaker box, while other situations may call for help from a professional residential electrician in Carlsbad, NM. For your safety, contact the team of experts at JB Electric LLC to handle electrical emergencies.

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