Curcuit Breaker Tripping

Your Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping? What to Do

Electrical circuits trip from time to time. In a home with a well-functioning electrical system, tripping circuits are a rare inconvenience that can be easily fixed with a flip of the switch. However, if your home's electrical system is malfunctioning or insufficient for your needs, you may experience this problem on a regular basis.

It's important to pay attention to how often this happens. If you find yourself dealing with tripping circuits on a regular basis, it may be time to contact an electrician.

The professionals at Add-All Electric can help. We provide services like breaker box installation and electrical system repair. We can help you diagnose problems with your home's electrical system, and if a repair or replacement is needed, we're here to help.

What Is a Circuit Breaker?

A circuit breaker is an electrical switch that's designed to shut off power to an electrical circuit in the event of an electrical malfunction or overload. Electrical circuits run throughout your house, and each circuit has its own breaker or fuse.

How much power each circuit delivers depends on what it's used for. Some circuits are designed to carry an electrical load of 15 amps. These circuits usually serve rooms like the living room and bedrooms. Some parts of the house, like the kitchen and bathroom, are often served by 20-amp circuits. Major appliances have their own dedicated circuits, usually delivering between 30 and 50 amps of power.

Possible Causes of a Tripping Circuit Breaker

There's more than one reason that a circuit breaker might trip. Knowing the possible causes can help you decide what might be happening with your home's electrical system.

Circuit Overload

Circuit breakers are designed to monitor electrical flow through circuits. Each circuit is only designed to carry a certain amount of power. If you try to use more electrical current through your circuit than it was designed to carry, then the circuit breaker will register that excess current and stop the flow of power. The circuit breaker does this to prevent the wires from heating up and melting the insulation around the wire. This is important for preventing electrical fires.

Normal devices like computers, lights, external batteries and televisions are not often the cause of electrical overload. Devices that are designed to produce heat, particularly space heaters, use a lot of electricity and are often found to be the cause of electrical overload.

Short Circuit

Short circuits are a common reason that circuit breakers trip. A circuit is made up of three wires: the neutral wire, hot wire, and ground wire. A short circuit is something that happens when a hot wire comes into contact with a neutral wire, the ground wire, or any metal surface. When this occurs, the current overloads. There are many things that can cause a short circuit, including a loose connection or damaged wiring. Nearly anything with wiring can be short circuited, including lamps, appliances, electrical outlets and circuits.

A circuit breaker that trips repeatedly without any connection to how much power is being drawn on the circuit could be the result of a short circuit. Call an electrician as soon as possible about this: a short circuit could cause a fire. If this problem happens in an outlet, you may notice discoloration around the outlet, or a burning smell. Have this addressed as soon as possible.

Ground Fault Surge

A ground fault surge is a type of short circuit that happens when the hot wire touches the ground wire or the metal electrical box that's connected to the ground wire. A ground fault surge can also occur when water gets into the electrical outlet, appliance or into the circuit.

Ground fault surges can be very dangerous because they can cause electrocution. Use of GFCI outlets in areas where moisture is often present (kitchen, bathroom, basement, etc) can help prevent ground fault surges. In the event of this kind of surge, the GFCI outlet will shut down the circuit, cutting the power to prevent electrocution. GFCI outlets are required in certain parts of the house for this reason. If your home doesn't have GFCI outlets in parts of the house where moisture is often present, contact an electrician to upgrade receptacles in those rooms.

What Can Cause the Main Circuit Breaker to Trip?

Your electrical panel has a main breaker that controls all power to the entire house. This breaker can trip just like individual circuit breakers. If your main breaker panel trips, this could be due to a circuit overload in an individual circuit, however, this is a very uncommon response to such a problem. More likely, if the main breaker has tripped, this is due to a larger power surge or lighting strike affecting the entire house.

Short-Term Fixes for an Overloaded Circuit

If your circuit breakers usually trip when you're using certain appliances or when you're usually engaging in a specific type of activity, you might be overloading the circuit. Pay attention to your own activities when your circuit breakers trip - this can tell you a lot about what's going on with your electrical system.

Most likely, you're drawing too much power on one circuit. Space heaters are a common cause of problems, so if you're running a space heater, electric blanket or another device that uses electricity to make heat, you may need to unplug that device and move it to another circuit before turning it back on. In the short term, this is a way to solve your problem. In the long term, you may need to add a new circuit to your home's electrical panel, or replace the breaker box.

If your circuit breaker has suddenly started tripping often and you haven't changed how you use electricity in the house, this could be a sign of a problem that needs to be repaired.

Know When to Replace Your Breaker Box

It may be that your circuit breakers are tripping regularly due to insufficient electrical service. If you have an older home, this is a very likely scenario. Decades ago, homes were built with 40 amps or 60 amps of electrical service.

Today, homes are commonly built with 200 amps of electrical service. 100 amps is considered the minimum amount for a typical residential structure. If your circuits trip more than once or twice per year because of power overload, you may want to talk to your electrician about replacing your electrical box.

What to Expect During a Breaker Box Replacement

Before your electrician can replace your electrical panel, they'll need to get a permit to ensure the work is done correctly. There will be an associated cost for the permit, but the permit is important. If your electrician didn't get a permit, there would be no way to know for sure that your electrical box had been installed according to codes, and you might have a hard time selling your house in the future.

Replacing the panel takes a few hours, or even as long as 8 hours. The electrician will need to get the correct parts to do the job before beginning the work. Once the new electrical panel has been installed, it should last several decades. As long as you've installed an electrical panel that continues to supply sufficient power for your home, you should not need to replace your electrical panel again for a very long time.

Circuit Breakers Tripping Regularly? Contact Add-All Electric

Regular tripping of the circuit breakers could be an indication that your home isn't getting enough electrical service, or it could be an indication of a larger problem. The professionals at Add-All Electric are here to help. Call today to make an appointment and find out if your electrical panel needs to be repaired or replaced.

Our Dallas Electricians Provide Services in the Following Cities:

Little Elm Tx

Mansfield Tx

Mesquite Tx

N. Richland Hills Tx

Rockwall Tx

Rowlett Tx

Sachse Tx

Waxahachie Tx

Weatherford Tx

Wylie Tx