What is a Circuit Breaker?
Circuit breaker switches protect the electric circuits in your home from damage that can be caused by short circuiting or electrical overloads. Multiple electric currents flow into your home and are directed to your circuit breaker box which is typically located in the basement or garage of your home. When the electric currents reach the breaker box they are split into several circuits and are then delivered throughout your home.
The rooms in your home require varied levels of electrical power depending upon the electrical appliances and the items in each room that are plugged into wall outlets. Some rooms may require only 15-amp circuits, while others may require 20 to 100-amp circuits. The circuit breaker in your home will ‘trip’ or cut off the electrical flow in your home, when it detects a fault condition somewhere in the home and shuts itself off to avoid wiring from overheating or from igniting and starting a house fire.
Resetting Your Circuit Breaker
When the circuit breaker trips, resetting it is fairly easy to do. You simply need to go the electrical panel and locate the one circuit switch that is not perfectly aligned with the others and firmly push it back to the on-position. If this doesn’t resolve the problem, you may need to firmly push the breaker switch off then on two or three times. However, if the circuit breaker trips again, right after resetting it, then surely you have a problem that needs identifying and resolving. When you experience a tripped circuit breaker, it may be the result of either an overloaded circuit, a short circuit, or a ground fault.
Overloaded Circuit – If the problem is an overloaded circuit, which is the most common problem, that means that you have more current flowing through the circuit than it is equipped to handle, so it turns itself off to avoid any damage. To resolve this problem, simply unplug any items that you are not currently using, and if the problem persists, then it’s time to call in the experts at Gervais Electric to identify and repair the problem.
Short circuit – If the tripped breaker problem is not the result of an overloaded circuit, then most likely the cause is a short circuit. A short circuit is a more serious issue than an overloaded circuit because it indicates that a black (hot) wire has come in contact with another hot or neutral wire. To determine if a short circuit is the source of your tripped breaker, your power lines and devices need to be inspected to ensure they are not damaged. You can check your power outlets, switches, and cord-ends for any discoloration and walk about the house to see if there is a burning smell. Again, if you are unable to locate the source of the problem reach out to the experts at Gervais Electric so we can identify the problem and provide an effective solution.
Ground Fault – Finally, if you have exhausted the first two possibilities of an overloaded circuit or a short circuit, then it is probably time to check if your ground fault is causing the issues at hand. A ground fault presents with the same characteristics as a short circuit in that it occurs when the black (hot) wire comes in contact with the ground (bare) wire or touches the metal box enclosing the wire junctions. As in the case of a short circuit, with a ground fault you may also notice a burning smell or discoloration around your electrical outlets or switches. A ground fault is typically caused by faulty or damaged equipment and are exceedingly dangerous. If you believe that a ground fault may be the source of a repeated tripped circuit breaker issue, then do not attempt to repair this problem on your own. Rather, contact our electricians to identify and confirm the ground fault and provide you with appropriate solutions to avoid the problem from reoccurring in the future.
Safety Should Always Be Your Priority
As we all know, safety is critical when dealing with any type of an electrical issue no matter how small or how big the issue may be. You should never attempt to inspect, identify or repair electrical issues, such as tripped circuit breakers unless you are absolutely certain that the repair process is safe and you are confident of steps you need to follow to resolve the problem. If you have even the slightest doubt, contact Gervais Electric at 615-973-1436 for all your circuit breaker problems and all your electrical needs. If it is safe for you to repair yourself, we are happy to walk you through the process over the phone.