It can be an inconvenience when a circuit breaker trips and shuts off the electricity to whatever you’re working on. But it gets irritating when it happens constantly (plus, it could be a symptom of greater electrical problems in your home).
So what should you do if your circuit breaker trips regularly?
First, make sure you don’t have one of the 2 kinds of dangerous circuit breakers. Then, keep reading below.
The 3 reasons a circuit breaker trips
Circuit breakers are designed to keep you and your family safe. They trip for 3 reasons:
An overloaded circuit
A short circuit
A ground fault
Here’s a breakdown of what these different problems are and what you can do to fix them.
An overloaded circuit is the number one cause of tripping circuit breakers. It occurs when a circuit has more electricity flowing through it than it is rated for. Usually, this happens when you plug too many electrical appliances into an outlet or you plug in something large (like a microwave) into a circuit that isn’t built for it.
Overloaded circuits are dangerous. They can cause the wires in your home to overheat, which can then start a fire.
To fix this: Move some of your electric appliances to another circuit. If it’s absolutely necessary to have all the appliances in the same area, you may need to have an electrician run a new circuit.
A short circuit is when electricity is allowed to travel over an unintended path. This usually occurs in homes when the hot wire (black) touches another wire or when there is a break in a hot wire.
The difficulty here is that the short could be in your home’s wiring or in the electrical appliance you have connected to the home’s wiring.
To fix this: A short circuit is a serious problem that should be fixed only by a licensed electrician. Contact a professional electrician if you believe there is a short in your home.
A ground fault
A ground fault is actually a type of short circuit. It usually occurs when the hot wire touches the ground wire (usually bare copper) or the side of the metal box (since the box is also grounded). A ground fault can also be caused by something being stuck in an electric outlet that shouldn’t be.
The fix: Obviously, don’t stick your fingers or anything else in an electric outlet that shouldn’t be. If you believe you have a ground fault in your home’s wiring, contact a licensed electrician as this is a very serious problem.
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