Why Does My Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?

Electrical Safety Tips From an Indianapolis Electrician

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Going outside over and over again to flip a tripped circuit breaker switch gets annoying after a while. A circuit breaker “trips” or shuts off the electrical flow to prevent the circuit from overheating and causing damage, or even possibly an electrical fire. So, before you go outside to visit your breaker box yet again, take a moment to determine the root cause of the flipped switch.

Three common causes of a flipped breaker switch are an overloaded circuit, a short circuit, and a ground fault.

1. Circuit Overload

circuit overload

An overloaded circuit is the most common reason a circuit breaker trips. This means that too many power-consuming devices are being run at the same time on the same circuit. For example, if you have a 15 amp circuit with 20 amps worth of electricity running through the same circuit (think hair dryer, air conditioner, and TV are all on at the same time through the same circuit), the circuit breaker will trip to prevent overheating. Another cause of an overloaded circuit is an overheated appliance, which will use more amps than normal, causing the circuit to overload.

Solutions
  •  Turn off some of the devices on the circuit to reduce the electrical load.
  • Move some of the power-heavy devices on the overloaded circuit to another general purpose circuit to more evenly distribute power.
  • Allow the overheated appliance to cool before attempting to turn it back on.

2. Short Circuit

Another possible (and more dangerous) cause for a flipped breaker switch is a short circuit. A short circuit happens when a “hot” (black) wire touches another hot wire, or touches a “neutral” (white) wire in an outlet. When these wires touch, currents surge creating more heat than the circuit can handle, so it shuts off.

Solution

Check your outlets and plugs for a “burnt” smell or discoloration, then call a licensed Indianapolis electrician to safely correct the problem.

3. Ground Fault

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A ground fault is similar to a short circuit. A ground fault happens when a hot wire touches the “ground” (bare copper) wire on the side of a metal outlet box which is connected to the ground wire, causing currents to surge and the circuit to turn off.

Solution

Just like a short circuit, check to see if anything looks out of the ordinary with your outlets, or if you notice a smell of anything hot or burning. Then, call a licensed Indianapolis electrician.

Safety First, Always! Leave the Dangerous Work to the Pros.

Although it is not an unusual occurrence in a home, flipped breakers are nothing to take lightly. Remember, electricity can be deadly. If your circuit breaker is cutting off electricity repeatedly, there’s likely a problem with the circuit’s wiring, and that’s a problem you’ll want to address as soon as possible, by calling a licensed electrician.

Michael

Our number one recommendation when dealing with electricity is to leave the dangerous work to an experienced electrician. Contact the highly-trained and experienced licensed electricians at White’s Electrical to get to the bottom of any electrical issue quickly, efficiently, and most of all, safely.

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