Your Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping, Now What?

What causes a circuit breaker to trip? How do you fix it? Mr. Electric walks you through the steps that will help get your lights back on.

A common situation is dealing with a tripped circuit breaker (and if you haven’t upgraded from a less-reliable fuse box, give Mr. Electric® a call).

When a circuit breaker trips, it leaves a room or a whole house in the dark and without power, but solving the issue is usually simple.

What to Do When Your Circuit Breaker Trips

When a surge of energy overloads a circuit, like in the case of a lightning strike or heavily stressed outlet drawing too much current, the breaker’s safeguard is to switch the circuit to the OFF position. You can get your power back by following these three easy steps:

  1. Turn off all the lights and appliances affected by the power outage. Switch everything you can to the OFF position. If your TV went out and it doesn’t have a manual OFF switch, unplug it. It’s best not to have any electronics drawing electricity when the circuit breaker is reset (in step 3 below), or further damage could be done. The sudden surge of power could adversely affect your home computer, fan, or gaming system, for example.  
  2. Find your circuit box and search for the breaker(s) in the OFF position. Some circuit breakers have a red or orange color if they are switched OFF.
  3. Flip the breaker from OFF to ON. Then, simply turn back on the appliances and devices you turned off in step 1, and you should be fine. If your circuit breaker keeps tripping, it’s time to call in an expert like Mr. Electric.

Does Your Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?

If you circuit breaker keeps tripping, there could be a serious issue, often caused by general wear and tear on the circuit breaker itself, requiring that a new one be installed.

Repeated circuit breaker tripping caused by general wear and tear on the circuit breaker is usually due to one of the following issues:

  1. Short Circuit: A short circuit is common, but potentially dangerous. This is when a "hot wire" is contacting a neutral wire in an electrical outlet, which causes an overload of current to flow through the circuit, creating heat. The circuit breaker automatically shuts off in cases like these to prevent an electrical fire.
  2. Overloaded Circuit: Another common occurrence is a simple, overloaded circuit. If your electrical system or certain circuits can't handle the amps coming through the circuit, it will flip the breaker, and possibly damage electronics or even start a fire.
  3. Ground Fault: This is when a hot wire and bare ground wire are both touching the metal box housing them. This sets off a chain reaction that pushes more electricity through the circuit than it's supposed to hold, which repeatedly trips the breaker. A ground fault, or ground fault surge, will usually burn an outlet. 

If your circuit breaker keeps tripping, request a service call from Mr. Electric to inspect the situation. Electrical safety inspections are one of our specialties, and Mr. Electric offers a level of convenience, safety, reliability, and professionalism that has served millions. 

Think your heating or cooling system might be using more energy than it should? Contact Aire Serv, part of the Neighborly family of home improvement experts. Aire Serv can diagnose and service any issues you might be having with heating or cooling systems. 

This blog is made available by Mr. Electric for educational purposes only to give the reader general information and a general understanding on the specific subject above. The blog should not be used as a substitute for a licensed electrical professional in your state or region. Check with city and state laws before performing any household project.