In today’s world, it’s hard to get by for very long without electricity. Therefore, when your circuit breaker trips and suddenly interrupts your power supply, it can be quite frustrating. Rather than simply flipping the breaker back to its “on” position, it’s important to figure out why the breaker tripped so that you can address the underlying problem. To help make this process quick, easy, and accurate, the professionals at Putnam Mechanical offer this list of common causes of a tripped circuit breaker.
Understanding How a Circuit Breaker Works
A circuit breaker is designed to protect you and the wiring in your home. It does this by cutting off the flow of electricity when the resistor in the breaker reaches a certain temperature. The temperature can get too high when too much current is flowing through the circuit for one reason or another. This means that a circuit breaker can help prevent electrocution, fires, and a host of other problems simply by stopping the flow of power. In other words, a circuit breaker is an essential safety device that shouldn’t be ignored when it trips.
Possible Cause 1: Overloaded Circuit
Since a breaker is designed to trip when it senses an excess load, it makes sense that the most common cause of a tripped breaker that we see at Putnam Mechanical is an overloaded circuit. Most circuits are designed with a 15-amp breaker, meaning that any power draw above this level on a single circuit will cause the breaker to trip.
Most electronic devices don’t draw enough power on their own to come anywhere close to overloading a circuit. However, if you put an excessive number of devices on a circuit, you will quickly run into problems. You can also have problems if you run a high-draw device, such as a space heater, on a circuit with pretty much any other device. If your breaker trips, it’s important to unplug everything from the circuit and then add items back into the circuit one at a time to avoid an overload.
Possible Cause 2: Bad Breaker
Although you’re less likely to run into the problem of a bad breaker, it’s worth mentioning so that it doesn’t get overlooked. Every breaker has a finite lifespan due to the nature of the resistive metal in the breaker. If this metal strip becomes worn out, it can cause the breaker to trip to the point that it can’t be reset.
If you unplug everything from a particular circuit and you still aren’t getting power to the circuit, a bad breaker is a likely culprit. At Putnam Mechanical, we recommend that you have any bad breakers replaced by a licensed electrician so that you don’t electrocute yourself. If your home’s breakers are older, it may make sense to have them all replaced at once so that you can be sure they’ll work properly if there’s an emergency.
Possible Cause 3: Ground Fault
In an electrical circuit, there are typically three wires: a hot wire, a neutral wire, and a ground wire. The hot wire is the wire that carries power from the circuit breaker to the individual outlets and other electronic devices. If the hot wire becomes detached from the outlet, light fixture, or other connection, it can cause major problems that lead to something called a ground fault.
In your home, the ground wire is meant to draw away excess electrical charges. However, if the hot wire that’s carrying power contacts the wire that’s meant to carry away electrical charges, you end up with a serious risk of electric shock. Since this will result in excess current draw, this condition will trip the breaker, and even if you reset the breaker, it will immediately trip again. To prevent the risk of serious injury, it’s important to have a professional from Putnam Mechanical take a look at your electrical system if you believe you have a ground fault.
Maintaining Your Home’s Electrical System
At Putnam Mechanical, we believe that proper maintenance is vital to help ensure the safety of your Charlotte home’s electrical system. That’s why we work hard to take care of your electrical system when we’re performing various electrical services. These services include lighting and ceiling fan installation, wiring replacement, electrical inspections, and more. Plus, we can take care of your air conditioner and furnace maintenance, repair, and installation to ensure that you stay comfortable in your home, no matter the season. With an A+ rating from the Better Business Bureau, you can be sure that we’ll always be upfront and honest in our dealings with you. For more information about circuit breakers, contact us at Putnam Mechanical today.