What Is a Tripped Circuit Breaker & How Do I Find the Cause?

Service Today

Getting to Know Your Circuit Breaker

Before analyzing why your breaker tripped or what caused it, it’s important to remember the purpose of your circuit breaker in the first place.

The electricity that flows through your home first passes through the circuit breaker, which then reroutes the electricity to the proper device or appliance via circuits. This device is designed to prevent damage from occurring due to a short circuit or overcurrent. So in simple terms, it’s there to protect your home.

What Is a Tripped Breaker?

When a circuit breaker will interrupt the current flow if it detects a fault. In other words, it “trips”. While tripped breakers can be an inconvenience, they are actually a good thing because it means that your circuit breaker is properly functioning. This safety device is there to protect you and your family from the potential dangers of electrical malfunctions and can prevent fires.

What to Do if Your Circuit Breaker Trips

Once your home experiences a tripped breaker, you’ll have to reset it to restore power to the portions of your home that lost electrical functionality.

First, turn your entire circuit breaker OFF, and then turn it back on. If your circuit breaker trips again, you’ll need to call Service Today’s professional electricians to diagnose the problem.

Next, you’ll want to find out which circuit was causing the problem. To do so, turn off all the lights in the house and unplug all your appliances and devices. Then, reset your circuit breaker. From there, slowly plug everything back in one-by-one to discover the issue.

Once again, if the breaker continues to trip, call the experts at Service Today! to repair your electrical problem.

What Causes a Circuit Breaker to Trip

There are two types of electrical breakers – standard and Fire Guard (AFCI-Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters.) Each has its own reason to trip.

A standard circuit breaker trips when it gets too warm (aka “overloaded”) An overload circuit breaker is typically caused by an overworked or shorted circuit. Either way, a certified electrician is needed to diagnose why this is occurring and how to resolve the faulty wiring.

 Fire Guard breakers are “Smart” breakers that send tests through the wiring of the circuit every second to detect arcing – an electrical arc that can cause electrical fires. While there is arcing in all circuits, there are good arcs and bad ones. For example, some are akin to a running motor, while others are a sign of an electrical fault. A FireGuard breaker’s job is to shut the entire circuit down as soon as it detects bad arcing so that it can prevent danger before it can occur.

Amazingly, Fire Guard breakers prevent 99% of electrical fires on protected circuits. So it’s no surprise that they have been required in portions of new homes since 1999. While Fire Guard circuit breaker technology is continuously advancing, Service Today! has remained experts in this technology so that we can confidently diagnose and repair any issue with your Fire Guard circuit breaker.

Common Causes of Tripped Breakers

Now that you know how to find what caused your tripped breaker, you’re probably wondering why it happened. Well, there are plenty of actions that can affect the electrical wiring in your house and thus cause a tripped circuit breaker. These are just some of the most common causes of tripped breakers that our electrical technicians have come across:

  • Cheap LED or CFL light bulbs
  • Faulty appliances, chargers, holiday lighting, power strips and other electronics
  • Overuse of extension cords
  • Pictures hung with nails that pierce the wires inside the wall
  • Rodents (rats, mice, squirrels, etc.) chewing through wires
  • Staples used to secure wires during construction were pounded in too hard
  • Wet electronics

So if you’ve experienced a tripped breaker recently, keep an eye out for any of the common causes listed above to reduce the risk of another trip in the future.

Regular Maintenance Keeps Electrical Systems Running Smoothly

It’s simple to keep up with routine maintenance thanks to Service Today. We’re always happy to inspect your home whenever you call. But the best way to remain proactive is to join our SHAPE membership program, which includes annual in-depth inspections of your electrical system. Our expert technicians will check for loose wiring, faulty outlets, and other things that may cause your breaker to keep tripping. Best of all, SHAPE Plan members receive a 10% discount on other services and repairs, free service calls during regular business hours, priority front-of-the-line scheduling and more.