Common Circuit Breaker Problems

Let’s talk about the most common circuit breaker problems people have

  • Miswiring – Circuit Breaker Troubleshooting
  • Electricity Blinks or Flickers – Circuit Breaker Troubleshooting
  • Electrical Load – Circuit Breaker
  • How to Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker
  • Circuit Overload – Tripped Circuit Breaker
  • Short Circuit – Tripped Circuit Breaker
  • Why Does the Circuit Breaker Trip While Operating Certain Appliances?
  • My Circuit Breaker Box is Humming, Help!
  • Circuit Breaker Basic Maintenance
  • Terminology – Voltage, Amps and Wattage


Miswiring – Circuit Breaker Troubleshooting

Sometimes the reason for circuit breaker problems is miswiring of the electrical system. Miswiring or electrical wiring mistakes may cause an electrical device to not turn off properly and continue running even after the switch is shut off. Another consequence of miswiring can be electric shock. Typically the shock is not fatal but wiring inaccuracy can cause harm to individuals operating electrical appliances in the home. A problem of this magnitude will require rewiring the circuit or circuits that are affected and testing the entire electrical system to make sure it works properly. Miswiring can also cause appliances, switches and other electrical devices to not operate properly or to not work at all.

When rewiring or running new electrical wire in your home it is important to make sure that the work is done by a professional and get an inspection from the city to ensure that all electrical wiring and circuits meet the electrical code and safety standards.

If you need to purchase electrical supplies for a remodeling project or circuit breaker repair then you can visit for all of your electrical equipment needs.


Electricity Blinks or Flickers – Circuit Breaker Troubleshooting

When lights or other electrical appliances start to blink or flicker, the problem could lie in the wire or there may be a problem with the actual electrical device. A problem that is isolated to one electrical appliance or fixture may be a problem with that fixture, or it may be a sign that something else on the circuit is drawing more power than the circuit can handle.

Depending on the source of the problem, some solutions include checking for loose wires, replacing faulty wires and fixing or replacing the electrical cord connected to the appliance that is causing the short circuit trouble.

If you are not able to locate the cause of the problem on your own, you may want to consult a professional for further assistance. If the trouble is in the wiring or with the main wire then you should definitely let a certified electrician fix it.


Electrical Load – Circuit Breaker

“Load” in electrical terms refers to the amount of electricity one circuit is designed to handle safely. Standard household circuit breakers can handle 15 to 20 amp circuits in each individual breaker this is equal to the amount needed to run most light fixtures and small appliances. Larger appliances such as stoves, microwaves, dishwashers, electric clothes dryers, etc. will require a higher-rated circuit breaker, probably one that has at least a 20 to 30 amp circuit rating.

The circuit breaker size is determined by the load of the actual electrical circuit. Each electrical circuit in the system will have an amp rating and the circuit breaker size corresponds to the amp rating of the electrical circuit. A certified electrician is trained to handle these types of specifics when it comes to circuit breaker installation and electrical wiring. Homeowners should not attempt to wire their own homes or install and wire new circuit breakers. When dealing with circuit breakers or any kind of electrical system it is imperative that you use common sense and don’t try to attempt anything you are not trained to do. Troubleshooting circuit breakers in your home should be done carefully in any situation.

How to Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker

An overloaded circuit breaker will switch off in order to protect your home’s electrical system. A tripped circuit breaker can be easily reset by following a few simple steps.

  1. Locate the breaker box which will likely be in your utility room near the water heater, furnace and air conditioner. Some are located in the garage.
  2. Look inside the breaker box for a circuit breaker switch that has flipped off or is somewhere in the middle between on and off. Some breakers have a red window that shows when the breaker has tripped.
  3. Push the switch to a full “off” position and then turn it completely on. You should hear a “click” of the switch when it is on and the power should be restored to the tripped circuit.
  4. Once you have restored power to the specific circuit then you should be able to operate electrical devices without circuit breaker problems.

If the same circuit breaker keeps tripping after you have reset it then there may be a problem and it should be diagnosed right away. Since circuit breakers trip when they detect too much power use, try turning off some of the appliances in the area of the house that lost power and see if that helps. Consult a professional electrician for more complicated circuit breaker troubleshooting.

Circuit Overload – Tripped Circuit Breaker

The most common reason for a tripped circuit breaker is circuit overload. Typically this means that too many things are being operated or plugged into one electrical circuit outlet. If too many devices are powered in one location, the single circuit will be overloaded and will relieve the load by “tripping,”or switching off. Circuit breakers trip to protect circuits from becoming overloaded. The circuit breaker mechanism is designed to protect the electrical system in your home.

There are a few things you can do to prevent “circuit overload” in your home.

  1. Do not plug a lot of equipment into one outlet. A television, home entertainment system and two lamps in one outlet are probably too many devices for one circuit to handle.
  2. Make sure there are not any loose connections in your outlets. Have an electrician look over your electrical system if you suspect a problem.
  3. Turn off devices that are not being used.

By paying attention to small details and practicing electrical safety procedures you should be able to prevent circuit overload and many types of circuit breaker problems in your house. If you do experience this problem then follow the suggestions above to help solve a tripped circuit dilemma. If you are not able to fix the circuit breaker problem on your own then you may want to call an electrician to for additional breaker repair.

Short Circuit – Tripped Circuit Breaker

A tripped circuit breaker problem can be caused by several things. One culprit could be a short circuit which is caused when a hot wire touches another hot wire or a neutral wire. Typically a circuit breaker will trip because of an electrical current overload, but a short circuit electrically can be a bit more serious. This problem is most likely in the electrical wiring and should be corrected immediately in order to prevent damage or a more dangerous situation.

An electrical short may be caused by wiring inside the interior walls of the home or caused by something plugged into an outlet. If you suspect a short in a device that you have plugged into an outlet, you should first check the exterior of the cord. Look for wear on the outer covering or any exposed wires. Also check to see if there is an odor or burned smell. Brown or black discoloration can be a sign of wires touching or damage. A damaged cord should be replaced or repaired immediately. Exposed wires should never have electrical current flowing though them.

Why Does the Circuit Breaker Trip While Operating Certain Appliances?

If a circuit breaker keeps tripping, the problem may be with the electrical load for that particular circuit. The circuit breaker is part of a circuit and is designed to handle a certain number of amps. If the electrical current demanded by the appliances on that circuit exceeds the number of amps for that circuit, the circuit breaker will get overloaded and flip off in order to protect the electrical system. An overloaded circuit can cause the circuit breaker to overheat as well.

The solution to many circuit breaker problems is to add an additional electrical circuit and or circuit breaker that can handle a larger current load. The circuit needs to have a higher amp rating.

My Circuit Breaker Box is Humming, Help!

A loud buzzing or humming sound coming from a circuit breaker should raise a red flag and requires inspection. Some likely causes of loud humming noises in the breaker box are:

A breaker that is carrying a significant load but is failing to “trip” or shut off may make a loud sound and should be repaired or replaced in order to prevent an overheated circuit.

Sparking or a fizzling may be the result of a connection problem. If this is the case then the wire needs to be tightened or the entire circuit breaker could need replaced.

A circuit breaker that makes a humming noise as soon as it is turned on then quickly shuts off is typically the result of a circuit problem. Circuit breaker problems like this stem from the electrical circuit itself, so the circuit breaker may not have to be replaced. The individual circuit might just need to be repaired.

Anything unusual like a loud noise, mysterious humming in the breaker box or heat radiation and sparking around the circuit breaker panel is not common. If these types of situations occur, an electrical inspection should be done.

Circuit Breaker Basic Maintenance

Know the location of the main circuit breaker box and the circuit breaker panel in your home. Circuit breaker panels are typically located inside the home either in the utility room or in the garage.

Labeling the individual circuit breakers by location will help you determine if there is a problem and make it easier to reset the electricity to the circuits that switched off. Circuit labels can be made of sticker labels or from label maker. Be careful how you label and just list the circuit locations so that you don’t get confused.

Know how to reset your circuit breakers or deal with other basic circuit breaker problems. You will have to reset a circuit breaker that has switched off. Circuit breakers need to be turned all the way off and then switched all the way to the on position. If there is a flood or other disaster where the entire electrical system needs to be shut down, then reset after the power is restored and the mess is cleaned up. If any breakers are damaged, you will have to look into circuit breaker repair options.

Terminology – Voltage, Amps and Wattage

In order to understand what you are doing while troubleshooting a circuit breaker or attempting to replace one, you will need to understand electrical terminology. Here are some basic terms relating to the electricity running through the wires in your home.

Voltage refers to the force of electricity flowing through the electrical wires. This is different from the amount of electricity flowing through the circuit in the same way that water pressure is different from the amount of water moving through a hose.

Amps, on the other hand, do refer to the amount of electricity passing through a circuit. Amps are a measurement of volume rather than pressure; they refer to the volume of electrons passing through the circuit.

Watts are a measure of the total electrical power used by a device, and are equal to the number of volts multiplied by the number of amps.