Tips for Troubleshooting a Tripped Circuit Breaker
By Mark J. Donovan
||Circuit breakers are designed to protect you and your home from electrical shock and electrical fires. When either too much electric current, or a sudden loss of current, is sensed by the circuit breaker it trips, which in effect shuts of electricity to the electrical circuit. If an electrical circuit did not employ the use of a circuit breaker, and an electrical short was somehow created in the circuit, either the electrical wiring could heat up until it potentially caused an electrical fire or someone could be electrocuted when they came in contact with the circuit, e.g. turning on a faulty grounded electrical appliance.
A circuit breaker can trip for several reasons. The electrical circuit can be overload, there is a ground fault or short circuit condition, or there is loose wiring.
The most common cause for a circuit breaker tripping is the circuit is overloaded. When a circuit breaker trips, think about all of the appliances that may have been running on the circuit when it tripped. Try turning them off and resetting the circuit breaker. If the circuit remains on after resetting it, try turning on all of the appliances again to see if the circuit breaker trips again.
|If it does, use fewer appliances simultaneously or move some of the appliances to different circuits. Never replace a circuit breaker with a higher current rating. An electrical circuit breaker is selected based on the rating of the electrical wire used in the circuit. By installing a higher current rating circuit breaker you run the risk of overheating the electrical wires and causing an electrical fire.
A short circuit condition is a more serious and more difficult problem to troubleshoot.
A short circuit occurs when a hot wire (Black or Red) comes in contact with another hot wire or a return wire. They can also be caused by a break in the electrical circuit wiring. When you suspect a short circuit as the culprit to your circuit breaker tripping, check all of the wires associated with the appliances plugged into the outlets on the circuit. Check for melting or burnt wires. Also remove appliances from the circuit by unplugging them. This exercise will help to determine if it is an appliance that is shorting out or the home electrical wiring itself. Also look at the outlets and switches for any dark discoloration. Also smell them for smoke. If you still cannot find the short, call an electrician.
If the circuit breaker no longer trips after removing all the appliances, plug them back in one at a time to see which appliance is the culprit. If the circuit breaker continues to trip after removing the electrical appliances you may want to check the wiring on each outlet to make sure there are no loose wires, wire nuts or terminal screws. Again, you may want to call an electrician at this point.
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Additional Electrical Wiring Resources from Amazon.com
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