A tripping breaker is a nuisance! We’ve all been there. You get up to use a light switch, go to plug your favorite blender in, or open the fridge--only to see that the power is off. Keep reading to learn a little about breakers and what to do if one trips.
Breakers have come a long way. Until the 1960s, fuses were used instead of breakers. With fuses, if there was an electrical hazard, the fuse would pop and have to be replaced once the issue was solved. Nowadays, we can reset a tripped breaker and it will still function once the issues are solved.
What can cause a breaker to trip? There are many things that can set off a breaker. Here are a few examples:
If your home's hot (live) wire touches a metal part of your appliance, the ground wire provides a path back to your panel, from there the excess current causes the breaker to safely trip, alerting you to a hazard.
If you have too many items (lights, appliances) running on a single circuit, it can cause an overload.
Water can get into a plug or fixture, which alerts your system of a hazard and can trip a breaker.
What can you as a homeowner do to troubleshoot? For starters, you can make sure all of the switches on the affected circuit are turned in the off position. This ensures that you’ve eliminated your light fixtures as the problem. Another thing you can do is unplug anything on the circuit that is tripped (appliances, phone chargers, etc.). Once you unplug all items and turn off all switches, go back to your panel and reset the breaker. If it resets successfully without tripping again, plug in whatever it is you unplugged one item at a time, checking each time to see if the breaker trips again. If it does not, you’ve now isolated the issue to your lighting circuit. Turn on the switches one at a time, with the same method as above (checking to see if the breaker trips after turning on each switch). Once you’ve identified which part of your house is affected, you may use that breaker for all other items until your electrician gets there.
If your breaker still trips after turning off all lights and unplugging all items, it probably means there's something else going on internally and we'd recommend keeping the breaker off until an electrician comes.
Hope this helps!
Gloudeman Electric, LLC