Electrical Panel Installation: What Cause A Tripped Circuit Breakers

Posted on: October 10, 2016
By: Alan O'Neill
Posted in: Electrician

What Causes A Tripped Circuit Breakers In Houston Homes?

Locating tripped circuit breakers is relatively easy – Homeowners can simply look at each of the breaker handles and if there is one that is not in line with the rest, it is most likely the reason that a plug is not working. Tripped circuit breakers are quite common, and most of us have to deal with them at some point or another. Tripped circuit breakers are sometimes difficult to locate, as they do not go to the full off position, but to a mid position.

In many cases, a tripped circuit breakers are caused by a simple overload of the circuits, when you plug too many lights or appliances into a single outlet. Increased electrical load buzzing sounds, overheated plugs, flickering lights, sparks from plugs, and tripped circuit breakers are all signs of overloading. A common reason for tripped circuit breakers is overloaded circuits and frequently tripped circuit breakers is the greatest sign that your home might need an electrical upgrade.

Why Does My Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?

Going outside to mess with your tripped circuit breaker over and over gets annoying after awhile.

A circuit breaker “trips” or shuts off the electrical flow to protect the circuit from overheating and causing damage–even possibly an electrical fire.

So, before you go and flip the switch on again, take a moment to determine what the root cause is of the tripping.

The three typical causes are:

  • Overloaded Circuit
  • Short Circuit
  • Ground Fault

Circuit Overload

The circuit overloading is the most common reason your circuit breaker is tripping.

That means you’re running too many heavy power consuming devices at the same time on the same circuit.

For example, if you have a 15 amp circuit with 20 amps worth of electricity running through that same circuit because your hair dryer, TV and air conditioner were all on at the same time, then the circuit breaker will trip to prevent overheating.

There are two solutions:

  • Redistribute the power-heavy devices on the overloaded circuit to another general purpose circuit.
  • Turn off some devices on the circuit to reduce the electrical load.

UPDATE: Another cause of an overloaded circuit is an overheating appliance. It pulls in more amps than normal, causing the circuit to overload. An overheating central air conditioner is notorious for this during the summer.

Short Circuit

The next possible (and more dangerous) cause is a short circuit.

A short circuit happens when a “hot” wire (black) touches another hot wire or touches a “neutral” wire (white) in one of your outlets.

When these two wires touch, a large amount of current flows, creating more heat than the circuit can handle, so it shuts off.

You can tell if there was a short circuit by checking your outlets and plugs for the smell of burning, or brown/black discoloration.

These wires can cross for multiple reasons, but it could be as simple as a loose connection or improper wiring.

Ground Fault

Similar to a short circuit. A ground fault happens when a hot wire (black) touches the ground wire (bare copper) on the side of a metal outlet box which is connected to the ground wire.

Just like a short circuit, you need to see if anything looks out of the ordinary with your outlets.

A Tripped Circuit Breakers Can Be Your Worst Enemy

Because tripped circuit breakers can be a common happening, especially in older homes, it is important to label each circuit in the panel box. Blown fuses, loose wiring and tripped circuit breakers are common culprits when the furnace or air conditioning simply does not start, and a maladjusted anticipator is one of the top reasons for a thermostat repeatedly starting and stopping. Flickering lights, frequently blown fuses or tripped circuit breakers are all signs of an electrical system under strain.

Remember that power outage or tripped circuit breakers can be your worst enemy. We at Abacus Plumbing Houston can help you perform an upgrade on your current system if tripped circuit breakers have become a norm in your property. Therefore, for an improved electric power distribution system such as for residences and light commercial applications in which tripped circuit breakers can be reset remotely you may call us here: (713) 812-7070.

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