Why Does My Breaker Keep Tripping?

Posted On: October 11, 2017

When a breaker trips repeatedly, resetting it could be more than a nuisance. Breakers trip to inform you that something’s wrong. Before you flip that switch one more time, try to figure out whether overheating, short circuiting, or bad wiring may be to blame. Leaving the status quo in place could spark a house fire or fry your appliance.

If you don’t find a solution that completely resolves the breaker problem, call an electrician for a professional diagnosis to be safe.

Why Does One Appliance Trip the Breaker?

Any device can be the straw that breaks the camel’s back. Household circuits have a maximum of 15 or 20 amps, the total amount of power that can be drawn at once. When you’re near the threshold, plugging in something else will trip the breaker.

Some things to keep in mind:

  • Small” appliances can trip breakers: Blow dryers, toasters, and other small devices with heating elements may draw over 1,000 watts. In a room with lights and other appliances running, this can surpass what the circuit load.
  • Heating and air conditioners: HVAC appliances should be on dedicated circuits (that serve no other appliances) rated for the proper voltage and amperage. Dirty air filters and other problems can cause overuse that trips the breaker, too.
  • Vacuum cleaners: These trip AFCI breakers because the vacuum itself creates some sparks, especially if it’s an older model. Replace old vacuums, but get the wiring inspected for damage.

Short Circuits and Ground Faults

Your home electricity flows constantly in an alternating circuit, using three kinds of wires: hot, neutral, and ground. Short circuits occur when a hot and neutral wire touch, and ground faults occur when a hot touches a ground wire or grounded object. In plain language, electricity is flowing somewhere that it shouldn’t. The circuit breaker detects a problem (as it should!) and trips itself off.

Hot outlets, melted outlets, or burnt wires are signs of a short circuit. Ground faults are harder for laypeople to detect. In either case, get an electrician to inspect for these issues if the breaker keeps tripping.

Unexplained Breaker Tripping

Stuff happens. Appliance manufacturers ship defective parts that slipped past quality control. Wires degrade prematurely without any warning. It’s possible that even a brand new appliance is drawing more current than it should, or that a new breaker panel has a bad breaker or improper wiring.

When you can’t figure out the cause of a tripped breaker, the simple solutions include replacing a circuit breaker and getting rid of the problematic appliance.

Maryland Electricians for Circuit Breaker Repair

Let us troubleshoot that tripping breaker to see what’s really going on. Jaffe Electric has licensed master electricians to serve Montgomery County, Maryland as well as DC and Northern Virginia. We can perform breaker panel repair or conduct a thorough electrical safety inspection.

Call 301.253.3778 or contact us online to make an appointment with Jaffe Electric.

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