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What is Causing My Breaker to Trip? Insight From a Local Electrician

If your circuit breaker is constantly tripping, you need to do something about it. Besides being annoying, a circuit breaker that frequently trips could damage your electrical outlets and any appliances connected to them. Even more concerning, a repeatedly tripped circuit breaker tells you something is going wrong with your home’s electrical system, which could eventually lead to a fire. Instead of ignoring these risks, learn about the four most common causes of tripped breakers and what to do about them.

1. Short Circuits

One of the most common reasons for a tripped breaker is a short circuit, which occurs when one of your electrical outlet’s hot wires comes in contact with another active wire. This contact will generate an excessive amount of electric current and create too much heat. The breaker will then trip to shut down the circuit and prevent a fire.

You can usually tell if a short circuit has happened by looking for any black or brown discoloration surrounding the outlet or a burning smell near the breaker. Since loose connections or faulty wires could have caused a short circuit, it’s best to leave a repair to an electrician

2. Broken Circuit Breaker

Over time, your circuit breaker can start to break down and struggle to produce electricity. Without electricity, the breaker will trip and not work properly. When a broken circuit breaker is at fault, the breaker may not allow you to reset it, or you might notice constant tripping, scorch marks on the circuit breaker’s box, and burning smells. If a broken circuit breaker is at fault, you’ll need a professional electrician to replace it with a new one.

3. Circuit Overloads

If your circuit breaker is always tripping, there’s a high chance a circuit overload is at fault. These overloads occur when you exceed the circuit breaker’s maximum amps. For example, people often cause a circuit overload when they plug in new devices that use more electricity than the circuit breaker can safely handle.

You should be aware that circuit overloads will overheat your circuit, potentially resulting in damage to connected appliances or even a fire. If you’ve just connected a new appliance and your circuit breaker has started tripping, you can check if an overload is at fault by shutting off devices connected to the circuit breaker and seeing if the trip still occurs. You might also want an electrician to install a new circuit breaker with higher amperage, as it will allow you to run more appliances without trips.

4. Ground Fault Surges

When a ground wire comes in contact with a hot wire, a ground fault surge will occur and trip your breaker. Typically, this contact occurs when the ground wire and hot wires both touch the metal box they’re located inside. After they make contact with the box, a chain reaction begins that causes more electricity to surge through the circuit than it was designed to safely handle, leading the breaker to trip repeatedly.  

Besides tripping the breaker, a ground fault surge will burn your outlet and cause discoloration around it. Since a ground fault surge will make the grounding wire ineffective and could electrocute you, you shouldn’t try to handle a repair yourself. Instead, an electrical professional should fix the issue for you and install new ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) outlets if you don’t already have them. 

Choose Bonney for Electrical Services in Sacramento

If you’re looking for an electrician near you in Sacramento or the surrounding areas, Bonney can help. Once you hire us, our team of certified electricians can check your circuit breaker and diagnose the cause behind why the breaker keeps tripping. After diagnosing the issue, they can provide several solutions, such as replacing your breaker box or swapping out damaged electrical outlets for new GFCI outlets. We also offer several electrical coupons to give all our clients the best deal possible.

Learn more about our electrical home safety inspections and many electrical services today. If you have any questions or want to schedule an appointment, please contact us.