A tripped circuit breaker is one of the most common electrical issues homeowners face. But the good news is, it’s often one of the easiest problems to fix.
For today’s Burton Homeowner Hack, we’ll teach you how to reset a tripped breaker— and when you should call in the experts for backup.
What is a tripped breaker?
Each area of your home is on a small electric circuit. You probably have a dozen or more circuits, each controlling an individual room or appliance in your home. When there’s an issue with one of those circuits, the associated switch in your breaker box “trips” and flips from on to off.
When you have a tripped breaker, all the outlets, appliances, and electrical devices on that circuit will stop working. You’ll notice that the lights in one room of your home won’t turn on, the outlets won’t have power, or your appliances will go dark.
Where to find your breaker box
Before you can reset your tripped breaker, you have to find your breaker box. Typically, you’ll find the flat metal panel in your basement, garage, or utility closet. It’s usually somewhere inside, out of the way. In apartments, townhomes, and smaller houses, the circuit breaker could be in your laundry room or hallway.
What causes a tripped breaker?
The switches in your breaker box are safety devices designed to trip when there’s an issue in your electrical circuit, causing the circuit to heat up. If the electricity running through those wires overloads the circuit, the switch will flip, cutting off all electricity to the area. It’s an annoying issue, but it protects the wires from overheating and causing a fire.
Here are a few common causes for tripped breakers:
- Those wires are carrying too much power. Breakers come in different sizes, like 15, 20, and 40. That number references the amperage each circuit is designed to carry. If the amperage exceeds that circuit’s limit, the circuit will switch off. When you plug in a high-power device, like a hairdryer, vacuum, or several fans, these appliances can quickly overload your circuit.
- You’ve got a loose connection. Wires jump when electricity flows through them. If your connections are loose, electricity can start arcing between the wires, tripping your circuit. This is a fire risk that should be repaired by an expert right away.
- There’s an issue with your fixture, switch, or outlet. If you notice a burning smell, melted wires, or a burned switchplate, you might have a short circuit. An electrical expert can repair and replace these wires right away.
- There’s a problem with a lightbulb. Sometimes your breaker will trip when a lightbulb burns out or if you have the wrong kind of bulb installed.
If the same breaker continues to trip, that’s a sign of a bigger issue and a potential fire hazard. The sooner you call in an electrical expert, like the team here at Burton, the better for your home. Continuing to reset the same breaker can cause further damage to your electrical system.
How to fix a tripped breaker
- Turn off and unplug any devices in the affected area.
- Open the breaker panel and locate the tripped breaker. It will be flipped in the opposite direction from most of the other switches, or stuck in the middle position.
- In some breaker boxes, tripped breakers have an indicator color that makes spotting the trip easy. If your breakers are labeled, you can also confirm which breaker is to blame by finding the label that corresponds with the affected area of your home, and matching that to the tripped switch.
- Once you’ve located the right breaker switch, simply flip it to the off position, then to the on position. Watch the panel for a moment in case the same breaker trips again.
- Finally, plug in a small electronic device or turn on the lights back on in the affected room to make sure you reset the right circuit.
If the power is back on and your breaker doesn’t trip again, you’ve successfully reset your circuit breaker box!
If you tried today’s Homeowner Hack and your breaker continues tripping or your power still isn’t working, Just Call Burton.
We’ll come out and test your electrical system, re-label your breaker box, or upgrade your overloaded circuits. Call today to schedule your breaker box inspection, and don’t forget to ask about our ongoing specials.