When Should You Replace Your Industrial Circuit Breaker?

Replace Your Industrial Circuit Breaker

Industrial circuit breakers have changed tremendously over time. They are built with better materials, handle electrical currents far more efficiently, and are designed to last longer than their predecessors. Provided that you purchase one from a reputable source,  you will be hard pressed to find a circuit breaker designed in modern times that does not meet the highest standards of quality, performance, and safety.

At the same time, you can’t expect that they are going to last forever. Technology has not yet progressed far enough to afford us with circuit breakers that will never need to be replaced. Therefore, it is important that you regularly perform maintenance on your industrial circuit breakers and know the warning signs that tell you it is time for a replacement.

This article will assume that you have eliminated every other possibility for why your circuit breaker is not working properly, and that you have already tested your circuit breaker. It could be a problem with the electrical panel itself, or it could be coming from someplace else. This assumption is important, as it will save you from unnecessarily replacing what could be a perfectly functional circuit breaker.

electrician working on breaker

Any visual sign of damage?

Although it is highly recommended to have a trained eye inspect your circuit breaker for any sign of damage, they are fairly easy to detect. You might notice that there is a problem with mold and corrosion taking place in a part of the breaker that is vitally important and/or most susceptible to a safety hazard. The wires could be frayed, chewed, or degraded. There could be materials in the circuit breaker that have blackened from being burned.

Proper usage and maintenance of the circuit breaker should ensure that none of these things happen in the first place, but sometimes they appear out of nowhere. Be on the lookout for any visual signs that appear suspicious

Any odd odors?

Likewise, you will want to see if there is any kind of odd smell emitting from the circuit breaker. Usually, when a circuit breaker is truly malfunctioning, it will give off a burning smell. This is a warning sign that your circuit breaker needs to be replaced immediately.

A “hot” touch?

Although a circuit breaker may become slightly warm from constantly handling high levels of electricity, there are usually cooling mechanisms put in place (e.g., an air conditioner) to prevent the circuit breaker from overheating to an unsafe temperature. This rule is especially important for people who are working in areas that are known to be hot and humid.

If your circuit breaker feels hot to the touch, you might have a faulty breaker that needs replacing. If you are unsure if the sensation of a hot touch is just your imagination, have someone else – such as a licensed professional –take a look and see if they reach the same conclusion.

Frequent trips and not staying reset?

For reasons that may or may not be in our control, a circuit breaker will sometimes trip, and it will need to be reset. What you need to look out for is when the trips happen too frequently and the circuit breaker does not stay reset. Your breaker will usually come with instructions that will tell you the frequency at which your breaker is tripping too frequently.


Although the assumption was made that you already tested your circuit breaker, it might be the case that you have accounted for every other possible sign of replacement. You could be in the position where maintenance tests reveal that your circuit breaker is simply not functioning at its designated capacity.

It is important to remember that you need to purchase the exact make and model of your previous circuit breaker when replacing it. This requires you to look at the model number in advance. Do not replace and install circuit breakers in your industrial workplace unless you are qualified to do so. This ensures that the replacement is done properly without compromising anybody’s safety.