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What to Do When Your Circuit Breaker Trips

Person resetting a circuit breaker on residential electrical panel.

Have you just encountered a big storm? Is this the first time your circuit breaker has tripped? Not sure where to start? You’re in the right place. Let’s walk through the process of finding your circuit breakers and getting your power back.

Safety First

It can be nerve-wrecking when your circuit breaker trips for the first time, but there’s really no reason to worry. While it is safe to reset a circuit breaker in your home, you should be very careful when doing so. Make sure you don’t touch any exposed wires or attempt to take the breaker panel apart. Since water and electricity don’t mix, also make sure you never approach the circuit breaker if the area surrounding it is damp or wet—wait until the area is dry or call a professional to make sure the area is safe.

Turn Off Affected Lights and Appliances

In addition to your circuit breaker tripping, the last thing you need is to blow the fuse on your living room television or other major appliances. Not only will you not have power, but you’ll have a very unhappy household too. To prevent this problem, make sure you turn off all major electronic devices before dealing with the circuit breaker. If an off switch isn’t available, unplug the appliance to cut the power source before continuing.

Find Your Circuit Breaker Box

Don’t know where to look for your breaker box? Circuit breakers are usually found enclosed in a gray metal service box that’s located in a utility area, such as a basement, laundry room, or utility closet. If the circuit breaker box is in a finished room, it may not be visible right away. Check to see if there are any wall cabinets in the room, which might have the box located inside. If you can’t find your main box and you own an older home, you might have a fuse box instead. Fuse boxes are similar to breakers, but there’s a different process to restore the circuit if a fuse blows. Once you’ve located the breaker box, open the door and look for switches that are set in rows.

Related Topic: An Easy Guide to Understanding Your Breaker Panel

Search for Breakers in the OFF Position

Check if the circuit breaker is displaying a red or orange color; this will indicate that the breaker is switched off. If there’s no color displayed, you can also check to see if any levers are in the opposite position than the other levers in the ON position. In most circuit breaker boxes, if the lever is positioned toward the outside of the panel, it’s most likely in the in the OFF position.

Flip Back to ON Position

When you find the circuit breaker That's switched off, flip it back into the ON position. You should feel a slight resistance when flipping the lever and hear a clicking sound signaling that it’s been flipped back on. This should restore power but if it doesn’t, you may need to flip your breaker one more time.

Turn On Affected Lights and Appliances

After you’ve switched the breaker to the ON position and your power is reset, you can turn your appliances back on and plug in any unplugged devices. Once you’ve checked all the outlets and made sure your power is fully restored, then you’re finished. That was easy, right?

What if Your Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping?

If you continue to have problems with your circuit breaker, you’ll probably need to call an electrician because there may be a more complex problem occurring. A tripped circuit breaker could be caused by a short circuit, an overloaded circuit, or a ground fault. Before calling an electrician, you can learn more about these common issues so you can be ready to describe the problem to your electrician and get the problem fixed quickly and efficiently.

Mr. Electric offers a superior level of convenience, safety, reliability, and professionalism that has served millions. When you choose our services, you’ll know you’re in good hands. While you’re at it, you might want to consider an electrical safety inspection. Luckily, Mr. Electric is certified in that too! Contact your local Mr. Electric today for all your electric needs.