It’s inevitable – you have a tripped breaker at the worst time. If you haven’t ever looked inside your electrical panel, there are switches called breakers. If you’ve never had to open up your panel to see if one of these was tripped – lucky you! If you are like the majority of people, you have definitely tried to reset a tripped breaker once or twice. While having a breaker trip might seem like no big deal, do you know what causes it or when you need to call an electrician? Continue reading to learn more!
What is a circuit breaker?
A circuit breaker is a switch that can be found in your electrical panel. It is designed to open up a circuit if it is at risk of overloading. When this happens, the breaker trips and it will cause everything connected to that circuit to lose power.
What causes a breaker to trip?
A tripped breaker usually comes from an overloaded circuit. A circuit is created to carry a certain amount of electricity, so when that amount is exceeded, it causes a breaker to trip. This can happen by:
- Too many things on one circuit – If you have too many things on one circuit, or big appliances sharing a circuit, they will become overloaded.
- Short circuits – These occur when 2 different kinds of wires touch.
- Ground fault surges – When electricity takes an unplanned path to the ground, it is called a ground fault. A ground fault causes an excess amount of electricity to flow through a circuit.
A breaker may also be old or faulty. Some signs a breaker is old or faulty include:
- It feels hot to the touch.
- It won’t stay set to the “on” position.
- A burning smell is present.
- There is visible damage or wear.
What to do when a breaker trips?
When a you have a tripped breaker, many people assume that resetting it back to the “on” position will take care of the issue. However, this can actually be dangerous if you don’t know what caused the problem in the first place. If you have had a breaker trip, or you have had any signs of an old/faulty breaker as listed above, it’s time to call an electrician. Your electrician will determine why it tripped and provide a permanent solution so it doesn’t happen again.
We use the analogy of an air bag. If an air bag goes off to protect you in a car accident, you probably won’t just shove it back in the steering wheel and hope it works the same way if there is another accident. Breakers should be regarded similarly. If it trips, it was doing its job to protect you from an electrical hazard, so you don’t want to just reset it and hope it works the same way again. We recommend you call an electrician if you have a tripped breaker and you’re not sure why. Also, if your electrical panel is over 30 years old, we recommend upgrading or replacing it to ensure it is up to the most recent safety standards.
If you live in Apex, Cary, Durham, Raleigh and the surrounding areas in North Carolina, give us a call today at (984) 600-0100. We’ll have one of our technicians come to your home to do a panel inspection and get the peace of mind you deserve!