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Why Do Breakers Trip?

Tripped circuit breaker: many of us have experienced them at some point in our homes, yet instead of asking ourselves, “Why Do Breakers Trip?”, we reset the breaker without much thought. Before flipping the switch back over to the “ON” position, however, it’s important to understand why the breaker tripped in the first place, and what can be done to keep it from happening again.

As a Top Dallas Electrician, ElectricMan Inc. understands the danger of ignoring the warning signs of a tripped circuit breaker. But first, you need to know what a breaker does and how it works.

The Job of the Circuit Breaker

Simply put, a home or business circuit breaker is a safety device that monitors the amount of electrical current going through the electrical wires in your home and shuts off the circuit if too much electricity is being pulled through it, or if there is any disturbance in the current that could result in a fire.

Whereas a fuse performs the same task but can only be used once, a circuit breaker can perform over and over with the use of a switch that trips to indicate when it has effectively cut off current to a particular area.

What Makes a Breaker Trip?

So, why do breakers trip and what kind of things could cause a circuit breaker to trip? Some of the most common causes of a tripped breaker include:

  • Overloaded circuits: Often times, when there are too many appliances plugged into an electrical circuit, the wiring reaches unsafe heat levels due to pulling more electricity through the circuit than it is designed to accommodate, and puts your home at a risk for a fire. That’s when the circuit breaker trips, shutting off everything that is plugged into that circuit, preventing overheating, reducing the risk of fire. This happens often in older homes, where the wiring was not designed to withstand the power of modern appliances.

For example, in some homes, running a microwave, a toaster oven and a refrigerator all on the same circuit may cause your wires to overheat, tripping the breaker. In this instance, making the load a little lighter, or splitting the circuit, may do the trick in keeping it from tripping the breaker.

  • Electrical shorts: Other times, a tripped breaker can happen as a result of an electrical short, due to old and worn out appliances, with damaged wiring in your home. Common causes of electrical shorts in the home include faulty wiring, rodents or other animals chewing through your wires or aging wiring in older homes. Because of the large range of possible culprits, diagnosing an electrical short can be more difficult and therefore should not be ignored. Determining whether a short is in an appliance may be as simple as disconnecting your appliance and resetting the breaker, if it continues to trip, definitely call a Top Dallas Electrician. Often times, it’s when an appliance is not being used and the electrical short is happening, that it is much more complex and requires professional help.

Ignoring a Tripped Breaker is Not a Good Idea

Because of the many reasons why your circuit breaker could be tripping, and because of the purpose of the circuit breaker, you should never take a tripped breaker lightly. It’s important to understand that the circuit breaker is a safety device; simply switching the circuit back on without investigating the culprit can become costly in the long run and, in many cases, extremely dangerous.

If your breaker trips consistently, chances are there is a potentially dangerous electrical issue that needs to be looked at. ElectricMan Inc. is a Top Dallas Electrician with over 27 years of residential and commercial experience in the electrical field.

Call ElectricMan Inc. at (972) 362-1804 to make sure that your home is safe and free from the risk of a short or a fire.