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Why Is My Circuit Breaker Tripping?

Circuit Breaker Electric Panel Box With Wires

Every morning in Minnesota, Jim would make coffee and sit down to read the newspaper while munching on toast. If his daughter, Emily, used her hairdryer at the same time the toaster and the coffee pot were on, the lights on the right half of their home would go out. So he trudged down to the garage and flipped the breakers to reset the power. He would remind himself to look into it and then forget until the next time it happened. A circuit breaker might not seem like it’s on the top of your list of things to do, but it’s important to make sure you have the knowledge you need to make the call when you are ready. 

What Is a Circuit Breaker?

 A high-level explanation is that circuit breakers protect your home from electrical currents that are too high and unsafe by cutting the current off. This prevents shocks, electrical fires, and other damage electricity can cause. The current is cut off at the circuit breaker, at a switch. This is why when Jim’s power went off, he found one of the circuit switches flipped and a bright orange window signifying which circuit was tripped. Flipping the switch back into place reopens the circuit. 

Where Is Your Circut Breaker Located?

To better understand what is happening with your home’s electricity, know where it is, and have it easily accessible. It’s no fun reorganizing the garage or basement to get to your circuit breaker. Especially if the power to your garage is out and you are in the dark!

Your circuits should be labeled so you know what areas of your home each switch controls. This is particularly important if you need to turn the power off to work on something in your home because you will know which switch to flip. It also can give clues as to why a circuit might be tripping in one area of the home.

How to Reset Your Circuit Breaker

Resetting your circuit breaker is relatively simple. First, unplug items in the rooms controlled by the tripped circuit. Stand back to be safe if sparks come from the breaker (which would absolutely merit calling an electrician). Next, flip the switch to the off position if it isn’t already there. Then, flip the switch to the closed or “on” position. Wait for a few minutes before you plug items back in. Next, see if you can figure out what overloaded the circuit.

What Causes an Overloaded Circuit?

A circuit will overload when it receives more amperage than it’s intended to handle. Excess amperage happens when too many items are plugged into the circuit. For example, appliances that create heat, like Jim’s coffee pot or Emily’s hairdryer, require more power than most electrical items. Plugging them into the same circuit as other large appliances can cause the circuit to overload due to the number of amps pulled through it.

Try moving one or two appliances to a different circuit. If this doesn’t solve the problem, you may need to install a new dedicated circuit and outlet for that room to handle the amperage load. In addition, large appliances like your washer, dryer, dishwasher, and home systems like your HVAC should be on their own dedicated circuits.

When To Call An Electrician 

If you need to have your electrical panel repaired, circuits added, a new service panel, and or extra outlets installed in your home, don’t attempt to do these repairs on your own. Instead, call a Twin Cities electrician, Accredited Electric. You can count on us to give you our best advice and do the job right and at a fair price. Contact us today!  763-355-5898