Why Circuit Breakers Trip and How to Fix Them?

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If your circuit breaker or fuse pops it’s a sign of trouble. This article will help you understand why it happened and how to fix it.

Circuit breakers are safety devices that cut off power if certain conditions are met. They differ from operating controls like relays and contactors.

Overload

Circuit breakers limit the amount of power a wiring system can draw. Then they funnel that power through branch circuits, the wires that run to individual appliances and devices in your home or business. If a circuit draws too much, the wires heat up and the circuit breakers trips to shut off the flow of electricity.

Fuses and fusible links add a negligible amount of resistance to the overall circuit. So they are not the best choice for long-term protection against overload conditions. Breaker tripping can seem inconvenient, but it’s really a good thing! It means that your appliances are drawing too much power and causing damage to the wiring. The best solution to this problem is to redistribute the load by running dedicated circuits for the largest appliances. This can help you avoid costly electrical problems and fires. It also prevents overheating of the equipment and conductors. A sustained overload condition can lead to a fire that can destroy your home or business.

Short Circuit

Electrical short circuits happen when electricity bypasses the full pathway and goes back to its source through a much shorter route. This often happens because the insulation between conductors has broken down due to age, wear and tear, or environmental factors like heat or moisture.

During a short circuit, current rapidly increases, which causes the breaker to trip. This is because the breaker can’t handle the surge of current and needs to cut off the flow of power in order to prevent damage and fire hazards. If you notice that your used circuit breakers keeps getting tripped, try turning off and then resetting the breaker one at a time. When the breaker trips again, it will point to the switch or receptacle where the short circuit is located. Look for signs of melted wires, burnt plastic or rubber, black marks, burning smells, and hot hardware when trying to locate the problem. Then follow the same steps outlined above to identify and fix the short circuit.

 

Ground Fault

Ground fault conditions occur when electricity strays outside its established circuit wiring and finds an unintended path to the ground. This can happen in a variety of ways, such as when insulation becomes damaged or electrical appliances come into contact with water. This type of condition can lead to serious safety hazards, such as electric shocks or fires.

Circuit breakers equipped with ground fault protection offer high sensitivity, making them capable of detecting and interrupting ground faults quickly. They also coordinate with other protective devices in the system to optimize fault response and minimize downtime. Circuit breakers are designed to protect against short circuits, overloads, arc faults and ground faults. To prevent a potential arc, a breaker will open its contacts to interrupt the flow of current when it exceeds its rated current. This can prevent the buildup of arcing current, which generates a tremendous amount of heat and is a major cause of electrical fires.