Why Does My Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?

We’ve all been there. The dishwasher’s running, someone is vacuuming, someone is playing a video game, then someone turns on the microwave, and “bam!”, lights off.  Your circuit breaker has tripped, and now you’ve got to fix it. Do you know where your breaker box is? How to determine the cause of your breaker tripping? How to get your power up and running again?

Circuit breakers commonly trip due to an overload of a circuit, or when it encounters a variety of electrical problems.

Keep reading to learn all about why your circuit breaker keeps tripping, and what that means for you.

What is a circuit breaker and what do circuit breakers do?

A circuit breaker is one of the most important safety mechanisms in your home. Circuit breakers ‘trip’, or cut off the power, when they detect a fault, protecting you from electrical hazards in your home. They break the circuit to stop current from flowing if it reaches a certain level. When a circuit breaker trips, it’s a good thing, that means it’s working! If it didn’t trip, then your wiring would be exposed to electrical dangers. However, if your circuit breaker is consistently tripping, that’s a bad sign that you’ve got an electrical problem.

Why do circuit breakers trip?

When your power shuts off unexpectedly, and usually at the most inconvenient time, you might be wondering, ‘what in the world just happened?’ –  Three common reasons could explain why your circuit breaker tripped.

  • Circuit Overload: A circuit overload one of the most typical causes of a circuit breaker tripping. When too many appliances or devices are drawing power from one circuit, it causes the circuit to overload because it is drawing more current than it was designed to carry.
  • Short Circuit: When two wires that aren’t supposed to come into contact (a hot wire and a neutral wire) touch, they create a high current that flows through the circuit. A short circuit can be very dangerous, potentially causing fires and melting insulation.
  • A Ground Fault: A ground fault initially sounds similar to a short circuit, but it’s different. A ground fault is caused by damaged wiring when a hot wire carrying a current comes into contact with a ground wire.

If my circuit breaker trips, what should I do?

If you’re circuit breaker trips, don’t panic. We know it can be inconvenient and sometimes unsettling for your power to shut off suddenly. When you find yourself in this situation, here is what you should do.

  • Unplug. Go through your home and unplug your appliances. If your circuit is overloaded, unplugging your appliances will keep the circuit from automatically overloading again.
  • Examine your breaker box. Do you know where your breaker box is? While we can’t tell you exactly where to find your personal breaker box, they are typically located in the garage, basement, or utility room. Finding the tripped circuit breaker is easy, look for the flipped switch that isn’t facing the same direction as the others. Then, just flip it back.
    • If there is damage to your power cables or melting: you probably have a short circuit or a ground fault.

If you believe that your circuit breaker is tripping because of a short circuit or ground fault, or your breaker is frequently tripping, do not hesitate to call a Complete Electrical, today.