Why Does My Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?

Here’s a familiar scenario: You’re getting some housework done on a Saturday afternoon. You’ve got the TV going in one room, speakers in the other, all the lights are on, and you plug in your super-powered vacuum. Then? Click. The power goes out, and you’re left wondering what in the world just happened. 

What probably just happened is you tripped a circuit breaker. A circuit breaker stops the flow of electric current through your home if it’s too dangerous to keep pumping power to your appliances. It protects your house, your appliances, and you! 

So what do you do about a tripped circuit breaker?

Step 1: Find it!

First, you have to find your circuit breaker box. They’re pretty easy to hide, especially in your garage or basement behind all those Christmas decorations. They’re typically built into the wall and covered with a metal panel. On the inside, you’ll see lots of switches and levers. Some homes have several of these panels, depending on the size and types of appliances in the home.

Step 2: Turn it back on.

Electricity is nothing to mess with, but resetting your breaker is perfectly safe to do on your own. Just follow these four easy steps:

  1. Turn off all the lights and appliances. If off isn’t an option, unplug it. If you don’t take this important step, your appliances could be damaged when the breaker turns back on. 
  2. Find the breaker box, and search for breakers in the OFF position. Some are colored red or orange if they’ve been tripped. To make sure they’re fully tripped, push the OFF breakers a little further into the OFF position.
  3. Flip the OFF breakers to the ON position. 
  4. Check your appliances. You should be good to go!

Step 3: Find the Cause

A tripped breaker every now and then is pretty common. But we’re guessing since you’re reading this post, this is the millionth time your circuit breaker has tripped. Or at least it feels like it. 

So what’s causing these recurring issues?

  • You may have an overloaded circuit. This is the most common cause for repeatedly tripping breakers. If you’re using too many devices on the same circuit at once, your electrical system might not be able to handle all the power coming through. The quick fix is to redistribute power by splitting your appliances between various circuits. If that’s not possible, try simply unplugging any devices you’re not using.
  • You may have a short circuit. Short circuits happen when a hot,or live, wire contacts another hot or neutral wire in the same circuit. There are a couple of pretty clear indicators of short circuits. Check your outlets for burning, cracking, or broken insulation and inspect your appliances for exposed or worn wires that may be touching each other. Sparks, popping, and smoke when you plug in a device or appliance is also a clear sign of a short circuit.
  • A ground fault is another likely issue. Ground faults are caused by hot wires touching a ground wire or the metal box housing them. This sets off a chain reaction, pushing a surge of electricity through the circuit. This is a common issue when you have a dripping pipe, leaky window, or other moisture that creates a new path for the electricity to flow.

Step 4: Find Long-Term Solutions

This is where we come in. As your Calgary electricians, we can take care of all your breaker needs— from safety inspections to replacing whole panels. Give us a call today!

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