Why Does My Circuit Breaker Trip All The Time?

Circuit breaker switches with one switch thrown

The Short Answer

The short answer is because the:

  1. Power surging from your electrical panel to wherever there is a draw on the power, like when you turn on a light or start up your vacuum cleaner, is greater than the circuit can bear, or the
  2. Hot wire becomes grounded, or the
  3. Breaker or fuse is faulty, or the
  4. Product pulling an electrical draw is faulty

The Most Common Causes

The most common situation is that the circuit is overloaded. Examples may include plugging in:

  1. Too many electrical devices on one circuit, or
  2. A 1500 watt space heater is plugged into a 15 amp circuit, or
  3. A new microwave is plugged into a range hood outlet, or
  4. One or two blow driers or curling irons are used simultaneously, or
  5. An oversized or even a normal sized window air conditioner is turned on

That being said, circuits themselves may have different sizes or types of Breakers, Fuses, Wires and Outlets or connections. Examples include GFCI’s (ground fault code interrupters) or AFCI’s (arc fault code interrupters)

How to Diagnose

To truly figure out why your circuit breaker trips all the time, you will need to get the facts. A diagnostic of the situation will require an understanding of the above, along with the knowledge of the amp draw of the device which, when turned on, causes the circuit to trip, although that’s not necessarily the case either.

Step 1:

The first step is to determine the load on your circuit and if the circuit has been properly designed to handle the load.

Start out by looking in your electrical panel. You probably know which breaker you’re having trouble with, because you’ve most likely had to turn it back on. SAFETY ALERT: electricity is dangerous. The panel is the brains of the home, and you should take safety precautions. Do not touch wires in the panel or a circuit unless the system is off and you have determined the power is off with a voltmeter. You can shut off all your electricity to your home at the panel, or you can shut off the breaker in question, typically, by pushing it to off. If you have fuses, you will not be able to shut off the circuit; do not remove a fuse unless the entire panel is off.

Step 2:

Next, determine the size of your breaker or fuse for the circuit in question. Then determine, exactly, what areas of the home are controlled by the circuit. Now, take a look at everything that is plugged into the circuit, and determine the amp draw for all the devices. If the total amp draw is less than the ratings of the circuit breaker or fuse, then see if there is a faulty device or appliance on the circuit. It could be lamp that has shorted out or windings in a motor or any number of scenarios. Isolate each device to determine the culprit. If all devices are working properly, then you may have faulty wiring.

Of course there is an EASY BUTTON to stop the circuit breaker from tripping all the time – just call the professionals at EarlyBird Electric. EarlyBird electricians diagnose faulty circuits every day. Call (612) 843-2473.

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