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Circuit Keeps Tripping


As a homeowner in the 02909 zip code of Providence, Rhode Island, you take great pride in maintaining your property. From the exterior to the interior, you make sure everything is up to code and functioning properly. However, despite your best efforts, you may find yourself faced with a common and frustrating issue – tripping circuits. Whether you’re trying to turn on a light or run your dryer, a tripped circuit can put a sudden halt to your daily routine. In such instances, it’s crucial to understand the root cause and how to fix the problem. As an electrical business that specializes in panel maintenance and installation, we at B&K Electric are here to lend our expertise and help you better understand this common issue.

Tripping circuits are a frequent occurrence in homes across the Providence area, and we’ve seen our fair share of them in our seventeen years of service. As a family-owned and operated electrical business, we take great pride in our community and providing top-notch customer service. Our licensed electricians have been serving homeowners in Cranston, Warwick, and beyond, and we understand the frustration that a tripping circuit can bring. In this article, we dive deeper into the world of circuit breakers, covering everything from their purpose to common causes for tripping, and how to troubleshoot and fix the issue.

Understanding Circuit Breakers

Before we delve into the reasons behind tripping circuits, it’s essential to understand the role of circuit breakers. A circuit breaker is an electrical switch designed to protect your home’s electrical system from overloads and short circuits. It works by automatically cutting off the flow of electricity to a specific circuit when it detects an excessive amount of current passing through it. This quick response prevents overheating and potential fires, making it an essential safety feature in your home.

Types of Circuit Breakers

Now that we know why circuit breakers are necessary, let’s take a closer look at the different types available.

1. Standard Circuit Breakers: These are the most common type of circuit breakers found in homes, with the ability to handle 15-20 amps of current. They typically have a single switch that controls the flow of electricity to a specific circuit.

2. AFCI Circuit Breakers: Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCIs) are designed to sense electrical arcs and trip the circuit before they can cause a fire. These can be found in newer homes and are frequently required by electrical codes in bedrooms and other living spaces.

3. GFCI Circuit Breakers: Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCIs) are designed to protect against electrical shocks by sensing any imbalances in the electrical current. They are commonly found in kitchens, bathrooms, and outdoor receptacles.

Now that we have a better understanding of circuit breakers, let’s take a look at some of the common reasons why they may trip.

Common Causes of Tripping Circuits

1. Overloaded Circuits: As the name suggests, this occurs when too many appliances or devices are plugged into the same circuit, causing the current to exceed the breaker’s capacity. This can be easily fixed by unplugging some devices or relocating them to a different outlet.

2. Short Circuits: This is a more severe issue than an overload. A short circuit occurs when a hot wire and neutral wire come into contact, resulting in a sudden and dramatic increase in current flow. This can happen due to damaged wiring or a faulty appliance. In such cases, it’s essential to call a licensed electrician to investigate and fix the issue.

3. Ground Faults: Similar to a short circuit, a ground fault occurs when a hot wire comes into contact with a ground wire or metal box. This triggers a rapid increase in current flow and can be caused by damaged wiring or a malfunctioning appliance. As with short circuits, it’s best to call a professional for assistance.

4. Aging or Faulty Circuit Breakers: Over time, circuit breakers can become worn out due to wear and tear, making them less effective in detecting excess currents. In such cases, the circuit breaker may trip even when the current is within the normal range. If this happens, it’s advisable to replace the circuit breaker.

5. Weather-Related Issues: Extreme weather, such as thunderstorms or high winds, can cause temporary power surges, which can lead to tripping circuits. If this happens, wait for the weather to pass and then try turning the circuit back on.

Troubleshooting Tripping Circuits

Now that we’ve covered the common reasons for tripping circuits, let’s look at how to troubleshoot the issue.

1. Identify the Circuit: The first step in troubleshooting a tripping circuit is to identify the circuit involved. This can be done by looking at the label on the circuit breaker. If there isn’t a label, start by turning off all the appliances on that circuit. Once you’ve identified the culprit, leave it unplugged and proceed to the next step.

2. Reset the Circuit Breaker: After identifying the circuit, turn off the tripped breaker and then switch it back on. If it trips again, there may be an issue with the circuit or wiring, and it’s best to stop and call a licensed electrician.

3. Check for Overloading: If the circuit breaker trips again after resetting, unplug all devices and appliances on that circuit and try again. If the breaker remains on, it’s likely that the overload was the issue, and you can begin plugging back in and turning on devices one by one to see which one causes the trip.

4. Check for Damaged Wiring: If the circuit breaker continues to trip with no devices plugged in, there may be an issue with the wiring. In this case, it’s best to call a licensed electrician for assistance.


As a homeowner, tripping circuits can be a frustrating and potentially dangerous issue. However, with a better understanding of circuit breakers and their common causes for tripping, you can troubleshoot and fix the issue with confidence. Remember, if you’re unsure or uncomfortable with electrical work, it’s always best to call a professional for assistance.


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