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What Should I Do About a Tripping Circuit Breaker?

If a circuit breaker trips repeatedly, especially right after resetting, it's best to call an electrician.
Fuses in a fusebox.
Circuit breakers.
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  • Written By: Jessica Bosari
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 05 July 2014
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    Conjecture Corporation
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A tripping circuit breaker can mean there is a problem with your electrical system. A circuit breaker does the same job that fuses once did. A circuit breaker trip occurs when the circuit becomes too hot from heat generated by the electrical current running through the circuit. The circuit breaker trips, shutting off electricity at that location until the wires cool.

Tripped circuit breakers can be reset. This gives them the advantage over fuses, which must be replaced each time one is blown. To reset the circuit breaker, you simply go to the electrical panel, find the tripped breaker switch and push it back to the “on” position. Because the tripped breaker switch may rest somewhere between "on" and "off," it is sometimes difficult to find the one that has tripped. Some breakers show red when tripped to make them easier to identify.

Most people find a tripping circuit breaker to be a problem for electricity flowing to the bathroom or kitchen. To stop the bathroom tripping circuit breaker from recurring, go through the house and find out which other electrical devices shut off when the circuit breaker tripped. Turn off some of those devices and then reset the breaker. You should find the problem solved. If you can move the problem devices to an area in the home on a different circuit, the breaker should stop tripping.

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Kitchens can be a problem because we run many devices that are always on, like the refrigerator. If you find the circuit breaker keeps tripping, simply turn off a device like the coffee maker or crock-pot while you use the mixer. This should solve your tripping circuit breakers.

If you find the tripped circuit breaker recurs repeatedly, you may have a problem with a receptacle or the wires in the receptacle. Sometimes, a faulty switch will cause the problem, tripping at a lower temperature than it was designed for. If a tripping circuit breaker trips again immediately after you reset it, do not try to resetting it again. Unplug devices that run on that circuit and contact an electrician immediately.

Because circuit breakers are there to prevent fires and serious electrical failures, is vital that you unplug all devices and call an electrician to a tripping circuit breaker. It may be that you need an additional circuit installed to handle the overload of electricity, or you may simply need repairs to the receptacle. You might also need a new circuit breaker.

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Discuss this Article

anon349623
Post 7

The bathroom light and ceiling fan shut off when I turn on the main bedroom light. After I reset it and keep the bedroom light off, everything else works but flips again if I turn on the bedroom light. What should I look to fix/replace first?

anon347896
Post 6

I was having a similar issue where my circuit breaker and GFI kept tripping during storms. I found this circuit breaker text message alarm that sends me a text when the power goes out and then also when it comes back on. A real life saver when you have freezers and refrigerators on that circuit. I bought it over at Aqua Technology Group.

anon297483
Post 4

The problem that we are having is we had a light out and changed the whole light completely. That did not work, so we went and bought whole new light switch. The light is now working but the problem we are having is that when we turn light switch off, it triggers the breaker. We have looked at everything and are obviously missing something and would love some advice.

matthewc23
Post 3

@titans62 - A similar situation happened to me several years ago.

One night the power suddenly went out without warning, and all of the other neighbors had their power. Every time we tripped the breaker, the lights went out again, so we called an electrician.

It turns out that the cause of the problem was a poor squirrel who chewed through a cable under the house. Unfortunately, it was his last move. In short though, yes, any wire in your house that gets damaged can cause a circuit to trip. It should be checked out immediately for safety.

titans62
Post 2

Another common cause of a circuit regularly tripping can be a short in the wiring.

Once when I was using my hedge trimmers, I accidentally nicked the cord, and it tripped the breaker. I'm sure this same thing would happen with the wiring inside a house if a wire developed a short in it. I could even imagine a wire being damaged after putting a nail or screw in a wall.

If the cause of a tripping circuit breaker can't be located, I would definitely suggest calling an electrician to look at the problem. The price of an electrician is much less than the damage caused by a fire.

jcraig
Post 1

Being the do-it-yourselfer I am, I've had a few circuit breaker experiences.

Incorrectly installing certain fixtures can cause major headaches with your electric circuit breaker. I installed a ceiling fan once, but mixed up where one of the wires was supposed to be attached. When I tried to flip the breaker and test the fan, it wouldn't work. It's a good thing, because it easily could have caused a fire if electricity would have gone to the fan.

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