Circuit Breaker Tripping? Alpharetta Electrician Explains Why

Chances are if you’ve landed here you are having difficulty with a circuit breaker tripping. And if the issue is recurring, the task of walking to the basement or garage to reset it is starting to wear on you.  You may have even discovered that not running the microwave when the toaster or coffee machine is running keeps it from tripping.  Unfortunately, now it takes you twice as long to get ready in the morning because running your appliances at once is nearly impossible.  In this article, we will discuss the signs of a problematic breaker panel and the options available to repair it. Please understand that circuit panel repair and replacement is not recommended for the do-it-yourselfer.  There is a serious risk of injury involved for anyone but a certified electrician. 

Circuit breakers trip to prevent circuit overload 

Circuit breakers are the connection between your electric companies’ power and your home’s electrical circuits.  They work to provide safe electrical loads for your home’s circuits and appliances with the ability to cut off the electricity to prevent overheating and in worse cases house fires and injury. If your circuit breaker has started to routinely trip, it is important to understand why. The most common reasons for circuit tripping are: 

Circuit overload 

Has your breaker started tripping recently after adding another appliance to a room or area of the home that already has several power intensive appliances in use on that circuit?  A circuit that designed for 15 amps will trip if the appliances on that circuit require more electricity than it can provide.  The breaker trip is a built-in safety measure to prevent the circuit panel from overheating and melting the wiring which can potentially cause a fire. Two options, although not ideal, to prevent breaker tripping and circuit overload include powering off devices not in use and/or moving devices to another outlet on a different circuit. In some cases, especially in homes over 20 years old it may be time to replace the Circuit Breaker Box.  

Circuit Shorts 

Another more serious cause of a tripping breaker box is a short circuit.  Short circuits are caused when “live” or “hot” wires encounters other active or neutral wires in the panel or in your electrical outlets. The result is an increased current flow that can cause at minimum the breaker box to trip and in more serious cases sparks and/or potential fires. If you notice sparks, discoloration, or a burning smell around the panel, an outlet, or light fixture after a tripped breaker do not reset the breaker, instead call a trusted electrician as soon as possible.  

Circuit Panels that need immediate replacement 

There are a two types of circuit panels that you should consider replacing ASAP. The first is from Federal Pacific (FPE) and this manufacturer has been in numerous investigations and lawsuits because of poor quality. These panels are faulty due to poor manufacturing and quality control. In many cases, the built-in breaker tripping mechanism fails to deploy in the panel resulting in overheating and house fires.  The second is an electrical panel manufactured by a company named Zinsco and it should also be replaced immediately. The design of these circuit panels is flawed and like the Federal Pacific Panel is a disaster waiting to happen.   

We hope this article helps provides you with a better understanding of how circuit breakers work and if it might time to consider replacing them.  If you need assistance or have questions about your panel and/or how to determine the manufacturing company, feel free to contact or call us at (678) 324-3117

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