Breaker Keeps Tripping
As a homeowner in the zip code 02907 Cranston Providence, Rhode Island, you know that the electrical system in your house is the backbone of your home. From powering your lights and appliances to keeping your phones charged and your internet running, electricity is the lifeline of modern living. So, when your circuit breaker keeps tripping, it can be a major cause for concern.
Not only can it be frustrating to have to constantly reset your breaker, but it can also pose potential safety hazards for you and your family. That’s why it’s important to understand the common causes of a tripping breaker and how to address them. As a locally owned and operated electrical business based in Warwick, RI, B&K Electric is dedicated to helping homeowners in the Providence area and surrounding communities understand and resolve their electrical issues. With over 17 years of experience, our licensed electricians have encountered and successfully solved a wide range of electrical problems, including tripping breakers. So, let’s explore this common issue and learn how to deal with it effectively.
What is a Circuit Breaker and How Does it Work?
Before we dive into the causes and solutions of a tripping breaker, let’s discuss briefly the purpose and function of a circuit breaker. In simple terms, a circuit breaker is an electrical switch that automatically shuts off the flow of electricity when it detects an overload or fault in the system. This is a crucial safety feature that prevents electrical fires and other hazards.
Inside each circuit breaker is a metal strip that heats up when electricity flows through it. When there is too much electricity flowing through the circuit, the metal strip overheats and bends, causing the switch to trip and break the electrical connection. This acts as a safety mechanism to prevent the wires from overheating and potentially starting a fire. Once the issue is resolved and the circuit is no longer overloaded, the breaker can be reset and electricity can flow again.
What Causes a Circuit Breaker to Trip?
Now that we understand how a circuit breaker works, let’s explore some common reasons why it may trip.
1. Overloaded Circuit
One of the most common causes of a tripping circuit breaker is an overload of the electrical circuit. This happens when too many appliances or devices are plugged into the same circuit and are using more electricity than the circuit can handle. The American Society of Home Inspectors recommends that no more than 80% of the circuit’s capacity should be used to prevent overloading. For example, if your circuit is rated for 15 amps, you should not have more than 12 amps of usage at any given time.
2. Short Circuit
A short circuit occurs when a live wire comes into contact with another live wire or a neutral wire. This results in a sudden surge of electricity that can cause the circuit breaker to trip. Short circuits can also happen due to damaged or faulty wires, loose connections, or old and worn out electrical appliances.
3. Ground Fault
Similar to a short circuit, a ground fault occurs when a live wire comes into contact with a ground wire or a grounded object. This can happen due to damaged or worn out appliance cords or extension cords. A ground fault can also be caused by damaged or deteriorated wiring in your home’s electrical system.
4. Old, Worn Out Breaker
Another common cause of a tripping breaker is an old, worn out breaker. Over time, the metal strip inside the breaker can become weak and less efficient at tripping when needed. This can result in a breaker that trips more easily than it should, even when the circuit is not overloaded.
Finally, extreme weather conditions, such as thunderstorms, can also cause your circuit breaker to trip. Lightning strikes or power surges during a storm can overload your electrical system and cause your breaker to trip.
How to Deal with a Tripping Breaker
Now that we know some of the common causes of a tripping breaker, let’s discuss how to address them.
1. Determine the Cause of the Trip
The first step in fixing a tripping breaker is to determine the cause of the trip. Check the appliances and devices on the affected circuit to see if they are drawing too much power. If you find an overloaded circuit, try unplugging some of the appliances and devices and spreading them out across different circuits. If you suspect a short circuit or ground fault, it’s best to call a licensed electrician to diagnose and fix the issue.
2. Spread Out the Load
As mentioned earlier, it’s important to not overload your circuits. Spreading out the load by plugging appliances and devices into different circuits can prevent tripping and potential fires. If you find that you are consistently overloading a particular circuit, consider installing a new circuit or upgrading the existing one to handle the load.
3. Replace Old and Worn Out Breakers
If you have an old or worn out breaker, it’s best to replace it with a new one. This will ensure that your electrical system is functioning safely and efficiently. As a licensed electrician, B&K Electric can help you replace your breakers and ensure that your system is up to code and meets safety standards.
4. Invest in Surge Protectors
To protect your home from power surges during storms or other events, consider investing in surge protectors. These devices can help prevent overloads and potential damage to your electrical system.
5. Call a Licensed Electrician
If you are experiencing frequent tripping of your circuit breakers, it’s best to call a licensed electrician for a thorough inspection and repair. They can diagnose and fix any underlying issues and ensure that your electrical system is safe and functioning properly.
As a homeowner, dealing with a tripping circuit breaker can be frustrating and concerning. Understanding the common causes and solutions can help you prevent this issue and keep your home safe. Remember to always prioritize safety and consult a licensed electrician for any electrical repairs or installations. At B&K Electric, we are committed to providing excellent electrical services to homeowners in the Providence area and throughout Rhode Island. Let us be your go-to electrician for all your repair, maintenance, and installation needs.