Your circuit breaker keeps tripping, causing you to worry and feel frustrated. What should you do?
Do you attempt to reset the breaker it just trips again? We have worked in thousands of homes with similar wiring systems to yours, and have run into these same issues. Electricians at Service Circuits know exactly how you feel. What we have found is, there are various reasons that this could be happening. Calling a licensed electrician to come out and provide you a thorough evaluation of the circuit/s causing your problem is highly recommend. The residential experts at Service Circuits are here to help.
A few variables that may be causing the problem range from a possible issue in the wiring of the circuit, with the breaker, or a component wired on that circuit. Service Circuits provides a detailed scope of work to be performed after evaluating your circuit issue. It is always coupled with the price associated, so that there are no misconceptions from the start on what you will be paying for your specified repair.
We stand behind our work 100%, 100% of the time. We know how to complete your job safely and thoroughly. We do so while giving you the peace of mind you deserve after a service well done.
Wire Size: Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping
Power flows from the electrical panel toward many destinations in the home. Each hot wire’s copper tip ultimately connects to a terminal at the circuit breaker. Then, each neutral wire connects to a common terminal on the neutral buss in your panel. If there’s a short or malfunction anywhere along a circuit, the breaker will, or should trip. If there is a problem preventing your breaker from resetting, it will keep tripping. This is actually a good sign. The breaker is doing what it was designed to do – and is keeping your home safe until the repair can be made.
Electrical panels are made up of several sizes of breakers. Each breaker is tasked with controlling different circuits that are wired throughout your home. Breaker sizes are designed to go together with specific sizes of your home’s wiring. The bigger the size of the breaker, typically the bigger size the correlating circuit’s wiring will be. With a wrong size breaker, you will notice that a circuit breaker keeps tripping.
It is never recommended, and is against the National Electrical Code, to install a breaker that is larger than what is specified for the proper wire size. With this in mind, dedicating the appropriate circuit wiring size to breakers will help protect your home. It is recommended to always have a licensed professional install and evaluate issues of this severity. Don’t attempt repairing it yourself.
Everything has an intended life span. Most electrical panels and circuit breakers can last for many years without having an issue. Sometimes, when a nuisance circuit breaker keeps tripping it’s an indicator that there’s a problem. And, that your system needs looked into right away. In any event, call the experts at Service Circuits to send out a licensed professional electrician to provide you solutions to your problem.
Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping: Breaker Types & Sizes
Main Breaker/Nuisance Tripping
This is the on/off switch to the entire circuit breaker panel. 200-amp breakers are appropriate most of the time for homes upwards of 2,000 square feet, depending on the load. Smaller homes can use 100-amp or up to 150-amp depending on the load and size of home. At the same time, sub-panels can use as little as 60-amps and are commonly used for small sheds and garages.
If your main circuit breaker keeps tripping, call Service Circuits right away. Several different reasons could be preventing your main breaker from resetting.
Because your main breaker is the “mother” of all the circuit breakers, it needs immediate attention if this circuit breaker keeps tripping. Most likely something is causing your main breaker to overheat and overload. That, or a direct short may be caused from the incoming power supply. It’s common knowledge that heat and electrical don’t mix, so take the risk out of your hands and put it in the hands of our company. We are fully licensed and insured for your protection.
Double-Pole Circuit Breakers/ Nuisance Tripping
The 15-Amp and 20-Amp double pole breakers often handle baseboard heaters. The 30-Amp double poles usually serve water heaters, electric dryers, and small air conditioners. 40 and 50-Amp breakers are rated for electric ranges or welders. Then, 70-Amp double poles could serve a very large air conditioner or a sub-panel on the homes property.
If your double-pole circuit breaker keeps tripping, most likely there is a direct short in the line or it’s overloaded. Over half of the time, our company’s electricians have encountered these situations.
Single-Pole Circuit Breakers/ Nuisance Tripping
15-Amp and 20-Amp breakers are all-purpose branch circuit breakers. Particularly running everything from lights and outlets, bathroom GFCI outlets, and garage door openers, as examples. Tripped single-pole breakers could result in an entire room losing power. Even more frustrating, it could mean that close to half of your home’s power is off in some older homes due to numerous rooms being on one circuit. Circuit sizes regulated for these breakers carry 120 volts. No more than 120 volts of electricity should be drawn from the circuit at any given time. The amount of amperage is determined by the proper load calculation of the home when it was built. Service Circuits also provides you with an updated load calculation when they visit your home, and settle the question of the load being any part of your issue.
Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter Breakers
Arc-Fault-Circuit-Interrupter breakers can prevent potential fires caused by unwanted sparking and arching behind outlets or switches. If your electrical panel has this style of breaker in it and a circuit breaker keeps tripping, then it’s doing it’s job. This typically happens as a result of loose connections causing arching where we cannot always see. AFCI breakers are extremely sensitive. They are required by the National Electrical Code for panel change outs and other circumstances now per the NEC 2017. For instance, all new installs of electrical panels or new circuit installations require AFCI breakers. It is also required on some circuits now to install AFCI/GFCI combination breakers, additionally. Sensitivity of AFCI breakers are certainly for good reason. Specifically tripping quicker than a standard circuit breaker due to its functionality. Not to mention, they extend the life of a home’s wiring system.
Circuit Wiring Size/ Breaker Size
At times, homeowners may be in need of upgrading their circuit sizes due to modern appliances pulling so much more power than they did 20+ years ago. If you have updated appliances in your kitchen, and a circuit breaker keeps tripping, an under-sized wire could be the cause. Avoid use of higher breaker sizes than what the wire capacity is approved for. In effect, to restrain it from tripping. Serious damage to your electrical system as well as appliances can occur. We always recommend hiring a licensed professional to perform and evaluate these issues.
Circuit Overload: Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping
Many times, extra strain on a home’s electrical circuits are caused from various aspects. Accordingly, circuit sizes were designed to manage a maximum amount of power at any given time. If home-owners use higher levels of electricity than what that circuit load size can handle, heat will build up. Consequently, circuit breakers should trip. In this case, do not reset it if there’s any electrical hazard present including heat.
First, one of the most common mistakes of consumers is using a space heater in their home. Our company can totally understand why someone may need the extra heat. However, they are hazardous unless you have them plugged into a dedicated circuit. For instance, a dedicated circuit is a circuit that only has one outlet on it. Most smaller space heaters pull around 12 Amps a piece, and sometimes people will plug two into one circuit. This clearly overloads the circuit. Likewise, if your panel is older it may more likely increase the hazard when a circuit breaker keeps tripping.
If the breaker doesn’t trip, and you are aware the circuit is beyond its capacity, call a licensed electrician at Service Circuits to come out and evaluate the load of your circuit for you. Adding an additional circuit for each space heater for colder months would be appropriate. Otherwise, higher risk for damage to your system increases.
Other Reasons Your Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping
Your appliance or electrical device can cause a direct short in your circuits. If you plug-in an old vacuum cleaner with loose wiring, or one that is pulling too many amps on one circuit, it should trip your breaker. At the same time, it can damage the outlet or wiring that you are plugged into and using.
The outlet may be damaged, but most concerning, is the circuit belonging to it may be damaged. This is why having your electrical panel checked out annually with proper maintenance can help prevent unnecessary breakdowns. Age does become a factor in how well your breakers function, so dully keep that in mind upon having your panel evaluated and make sure it is still in good, safe, operating condition. A licensed electrician at Service Circuits would be happy to look over your system for you and provide you with an analysis.
Obsolete Breakers and Outdated Electrical Panels
You may experience problems also in the actual breaker or electrical panel itself. In contrast to other reasons why a circuit breaker keeps tripping, maybe you lost power yet no breakers have tripped? This is more prevalent in older homes built 30 + years ago. Certainly presenting itself most in Federal Pacific Panels. As mentioned earlier, a breaker is designed to trip.
Do you own a Federal Pacific (FPE), Zinsco, Westinghouse, Pushmatic, or Bryant electrical panel? If so, it is extremely important that you have someone come out to check annually on their functionality. It is also hard to find replacement breakers for some of them due to them becoming obsolete. For example, due to proven dangers, FPE panels were taken off of the market back in the 1960’s. Before you leave, check out these valuable articles about your home’s wiring system.
- Electrical Permits and Inspections
- Commercial and Residential – Circuits 101
- 5 Most Common Electrical Safety Hazards
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