Why do circuit breakers commonly trip?

A circuit breaker tripping means that it has detected a faulty condition and automatically shuts off to prevent the wiring from overheating and potentially catching on fire. While this is a great safety measure, it can still be frustrating to have your electric circuits shut off. Let’s take a look at a few common causes.

When the Main Circuit Breaker Trips

The main circuit breaker is what controls power to the entire building. Just like other breakers, the main breaker can trip as well. Although rare, the main breaker can trip due to an issue in a specific circuit. Most likely issues involve lightning strikes, power grid surges, or a system overload.

Overloaded Circuits

Overloaded circuits are the most common cause of circuit breaker tripping. Every circuit can only carry a certain electrical load. A breaker exceeding its max load will cause the breaker to trip.

Powering too many things at the same time or using appliances that require too much power will cause an overload on the system. As a result, overloaded circuits are easy to diagnose when they happen.

Generally, a loss of power as soon as you turn on lights or plug in an appliance is an indicator of an overloaded system. The best thing to do to solve this issue is to unplug a few things and flip the circuit breaker back on. A breaker tripping immediately after this is done is an indication of a more serious problem.

Ground Fault Surges

A ground fault surge occurs when the flow of electricity gets redirected to the floor, such as when a hot wire contacts a grounding wire.

Poorly insulated or damaged wiring along with water inside an outlet can cause a ground fault surge. This kind of fault can be dangerous since someone standing on the ground where the electricity is directed is at a high risk of shock.

Ground fault surges can be identified by a burning smell and discoloration around the outlet. Don’t hesitate to contact a local electrician if you suspect a ground fault to be the reason why your circuit breaker trips.

Short Circuits

Short circuits are less dangerous than grown fault surges but still a bigger issue than just an overloaded circuit. However, they are alike in that they both involve electricity being misdirected.

A hot wire contacting either a neutral wire or any type of metal creates excess heat that will trip the circuit breaker to prevent a possible fire. Symptoms of short circuits include melted coverings on appliance wires, a burning smell coming from the outlet, or discoloration around the outlet.

Your Electrical Expert 

Are you experiencing issues with your circuit breakers? New England Electrical can help you find out why. Our knowledgeable experts can diagnose and fix the electrical problems you might be experiencing.

We at New England Electrical are also highly trained in rewiring, lighting, and whole home generators.

Got a question or want to book an appointment? Contact Us today!

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