An essential safety feature in your home, circuit breakers circumnavigate electrical injuries and fires. What does a circuit breaker do? A mystery to most, these electrically-powered marvels detect and stop excess current in its tracks. They typically trip when there is an overloaded or short circuit, cutting off current to the problem line until the issue can be safely addressed.
How Does a Circuit Breaker Work?
Your home’s electrical service panel contains a series of lever-operated circuit breakers that control protect the circuits. Each circuit breaker is designed to ‘trip,’ or shut itself off, at predetermined amperage loads, hence the different size breakers in the box. To protect your home and family against fire and electrical injury, if this limit is reached, the act of the breaker tripping opens the circuit and prevents the flow of current to that particular electrical line or circuit.
Most Common Reasons Circuit Breakers Trip:
- An overloaded circuit, such as a battle of the dueling hair dryers between mother and daughter, or your annual Christmas light show.
- A short circuit, such as a wiring issue within an appliance that results in excess current being pulled.
- A ground fault, which typically occurs in high moisture such as the kitchen and bath, and the reason GFCIs are required by current electrical code for your protection.
Where Can I Find Circuit Breakers in My Home?
Circuit breakers are found in your home’s breaker box. Breaker boxes are typically found in the garage, basement, hall, utility or storage rooms. If you’re having difficulty locating your breaker box, look for the electric meter outside your home. This is usually close to your breaker box for safety/distribution. While you’re searching basement or storage areas for your circuit breaker, consider taking the time to turn your storage game up a notch!
How to Reset A Circuit Breaker
If you lose power to an outlet or area of your home, a circuit breaker may have been tripped. Once you find your breaker box, resetting the circuit breaker is easy. Open the door to the breaker box and look for the toggles. (They look like blocky light switches mounted sideways.) Most should be pointing toward the panel center, indicating the ON position. Toggles pointing away from the panel center are OFF. Toggles in an in-between position are the one(s) which have tripped. You must turn the breaker OFF before turning it ON again, or it will not reset. If it trips again right away, turn it off without resetting it, close the panel door, and consult a professional electrician for investigation/advisement.
If your home has a circuit breaker that repeatedly trips, it is important to understand the reason why to prevent it from happening again, and safeguard against electrical fire and injury. In rare cases, the breaker itself could be damaged, or you may unknowing have a damaged/malfunctioning appliance or problem in the circuit itself, such as too many items on one breaker (otherwise known as circuit overload). If a circuit breaker repeatedly trips, or you see charred breakers, notice a burning smell or see signs of fire, turn off the main breaker to your panel and contact and electrical professional immediately. And when it comes to your breaker box, if you’re are unsure of anything, don’t mess with it. Seek professional guidance.
Frequently tripping breakers tripping you up? Stop flip-flopping around. Ensure the safety of your home and family with the help of Mr. Electric today.
Want more great information? Molly Maid, a Neighborly company, has a great blog about while you’re down in the basement checking out your circuit breaker, consider taking your storage game up a notch!