Why Does My Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?

The annoyance begins when you first go to plug in your hair dryer to get your hair dried in no more than 5 minutes, so that you can be out the door and headed to work by 7:00am. As soon as you turn the blow dryer on, the light above you in the hallway turns off, along with the hair dryer. Great, just what you needed as you’re already running late for work! You go down to the basement, reset the circuit breaker that controlled your hallway lighting and outlet you were using, and all is good, right? If the circuit breaker keeps tripping on a continual basis, it could be a sign of an electrical problem that needs to be fixed.


How a Circuit Breaker Works

The main purpose of a circuit breaker is to break electrical power by stopping the current flow to protect the circuit from any damage due to an overload or short. A circuit breaker does this when an electrical current exceeds the amount that the circuit is designed for, and shuts off the current by using an electromagnet that pushes down on a lever to switch the power off. It could be any one of three reasons why your circuit breaker keeps tripping: an overloaded circuit, a short circuit, or ground fault. Addressing the reason for your tripping circuit breaker is the first thing that should be troubleshooted by a licensed electrician to prevent potential electrical fires and other electrical issues from occurring in your home.


Overloaded Circuit

An overloaded circuit occurs when too many appliances and devices are running on the same circuit at the same time. If you have a 20amp circuit powering 5 appliances and devices that combined are running 30amps worth of electricity, your circuit breaker will trip to prevent overheating. Because one circuit typically has multiple outlets running through it, it’s easy to overload a circuit. You can fix an overloaded circuit by moving appliances to different circuits. One of KB Electric’s licensed electricians can also install a new circuit to handle the electrical loads if some of your appliances and devices need to be located in the same area.


Short Circuit

The more dangerous reason for your tripping circuit breaker could be a short circuit. Short circuits can cause shock, electrocution, and fire. A short circuit occurs when a hot wire comes into contact with another hot wire, or a neutral wire behind an outlet, which creates the wrong path for the electricity to flow through your appliances. This wrong electrical path produces too much heat for the circuit to handle, and trips the breaker off. You may be able to tell if your tripping circuit breaker is due to a short circuit if you see a bright flash when the circuit breaker trips, or if you hear a pop. Another good indicator is if your outlets and plugs have a brown discoloration and a burning smell. When a hot wire crosses another hot wire or a neutral wire, it could be due to improper wiring or loose connections. For these reasons, it’s time to get on the phone with one of KB Electric’s licensed electricians to figure out the cause, and for repair of the short circuit.


Ground Fault

A ground fault could also be a reason for your tripping circuit breaker. Just like a short circuit, a ground fault happens when the wiring creates the wrong path, which can cause overheating. A ground fault occurs when a hot wire comes into contact with a ground wire or touches the side of the metal grounding box. The ground fault is just like the short circuit in that the wrong electrical path produces too much heat, and the circuit breaker turns off the power. This can be a very dangerous issue, again, just like a short circuit situation. I know I’ve been redundant; however, it’s still a good idea to contact KB Electric LLC so that we can properly troubleshoot the situation and fix the ground fault in your wiring.


Get Help!

A tripping breaker that happens once and is fine after it has been reset probably doesn’t need a professional for help; however, if your circuit breaker keeps tripping on a regular basis, it’s time for a licensed electrician. Electricity can be very dangerous, especially when experiencing an overload, short, or ground fault in your wiring. Just like a professional tree company has the right tools and knowledge to cut down your oak tree without it falling on top of your roof, a licensed electrician at KB Electric LLC has the correct training and knowledge to fix your tripping circuit breaker properly and efficiently. Trust us for your circuit breaker replacement and repair needs in the Philadelphia area and the surrounding suburbs of Southeastern PA. (267) 467-3178