George Brazil Plumbing & Electrical
What to do When a Circuit Breaker Trips
A circuit breaker tripping happens pretty often if you have a lot of things plugged in and operating at once. When a circuit becomes overloaded, your system has a function in place to protect from damage or fire that will automatically cut power to that circuit. When this happens, you may hear a pop at the same time the electricity is disconnected.
The first step is to turn off all the lights and unplug items that are not always in use. You do this in order to reduce the strain on the circuit, otherwise if you restore power, the circuit will just trip again and you could cause damage.
If the circuit trips again you will want to plug some items into another circuit. If you do not have another circuit, you can have an electrician install additional or dedicated circuits for your home to handle additional amperage.
You will want to find your electrical panel. The array of circuit breakers should be labelled indicating which rooms or appliances they control.Be sure that you are wearing shoes, that the floor or ground you are standing on is not wet, and that your hands and clothing are dry before you open the electrical panel box. Electricity can be dangerous but basic precautions will keep you safe.
Look at the direction that most the circuit breakers are in, and look for one that is in the off position or pointed in the opposite direction as the rest of them. The circuit breaker you tripped may not be all the way to the opposite “off” side.
When you have found the circuit breaker that tripped and move that circuit breaker completely over to the “off” position. Wait a moment and then move it all the way over to the full “on” position. You should find that the power has been restored to the room or area where you were when the power went off.
Carefully plug items back in and try to avoid overloading the circuit again. However, if you have reduced the number of items running off that circuit and it continues to trip, you may have bigger problems. Big offenders for overloading a circuit can include hair dryers, portable A/C units, old appliances, toasters, coffee pots, microwaves, and power tools. Check cords often to be sure they are not frayed, all items are plugged completely into the outlets, and nothing is coming loose.
If you have plugged items into another circuit, checked the condition of all of your appliances and everything plugged in and the breaker continues to trip, especially immediately after you turned it back to the full “on” position, you may have a short in your system. Faulty switches, receptacles, shoddy wiring, damaged cords or plugs, or a malfunctioning appliance may cause a short circuit. Carefully check outlets and switches to see if they smell or feel hot to the touch but do not disassemble them!
A short circuit is a fire hazard, and a licensed electrician will be able to locate the source of the short and make any repairs needed to make your home or office safe again. For your personal safety, you should always use caution when working around electricity and never attempt to repair cords or equipment yourself. If electrical equipment has been flooded or exposed to water, always have a licensed electrician inspect it first before energizing it.
While it may be frustrating to have a circuit breaker trip, these systems are in place for safety and to protect you and your family. Most major problems in the home can be detected early and corrected by paying close attention to the warning signs long before damage occurs.
Be sure to always seek the advice of a licensed electrician if you have concerns.
GEORGE BRAZIL PLUMBING & ELECTRICAL