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Why Do Circuit Breakers Trip?

October 13, 2015 at 1:22 pm | Category: Electrical Safety Inspections



Topeka Circuit BreakersWhen a circuit breaker trips in your Topeka home, it will cause a power outage, then you’ll have to go out to the garage, down to the basement, or somewhere outside of your home to switch the circuit back on. Especially if it’s occurring over and over again, this can be very frustrating and if it’s happening very frequently, you may want to think twice before you switch the circuit breaker on again.

It’s important to understand exactly why circuit breakers trip so that you can understand what kind of danger your home may be in if this problem is recurring. The Topeka electricians at Greenwave Electric have broken down the reasons that a circuit breaker might trip so that you can determine the best way to respond to the problem.

First: What is “Tripping”?

Circuit breakers “trip” in order to cut off the flow of electricity. This prevents the circuits from overheating and potentially causing a tremendous amount of damage. Circuit breakers prevent a huge number of house fires by tripping.

Before you go back out to switch a breaker back on, you’ll want to consider exactly why the circuit breaker is tripping, or you may end up creating a dangerous situation in your Topeka home.

The three most common reasons that circuit breakers trip are:

  • Short Circuits
  • Overloaded Circuits
  • Ground Fault Surges



Here’s a quick look at those terms mean for your home and what you can do to prevent them from becoming serious problems:
Circuit Overloads

Circuit overloads are the number one cause of tripping circuit breakers. In simple terms, a circuit overload occurs when you’re asking a particular circuit to provide more electricity to your Topeka home than it has the capacity for. This, in turn, causes the circuit to overheat.

If you’re running a computer and a television through the same circuit, using 20 amps of electricity in a circuit that was meant to run 15 amps, the circuit breaker trips to prevent the circuit from possibly overheating and catching fire.

There are a couple of different ways to solve this problem. You can redistribute devices and appliances so that they are not all on the same circuit. You may also want to keep some electrical devices turned off to reduce the electrical load. Also, you can call our Topeka electricians for an electrical safety inspection.

Short Circuits

Short circuits are another common cause, and they can be even more dangerous.

A short circuit occurs when a “hot” wire comes into contact with a “neutral” wire in one of your outlets. When this happens, it can create more heat than the circuit is able to handle. The circuit then shuts off the prevent any dangerous outcomes.

Short circuits should be recognizable by the smell of burning they leave behind. You may also notice a brown or black discoloration in the area. They may be caused by wiring problems, and you have an electrical safety inspection performed as soon as possible.

Ground Fault Surges

Ground fault surges are fairly similarly to short circuits.

A ground fault happens when a hot wire touches a ground wire, or when the side of a metal outlet box is connected to the ground wire. Just like with a short circuit, you should be able to see a discoloration around your outlet if a ground fault surge has occurred.

If these problems aren’t dealt with, they can cause a huge amount of damage to your Topeka home. Call our Topeka electrical circuit professionals as soon as possible if you’ve noticed that your circuit breakers are tripping frequently.


For electrical service in Topeka and Lawrence, Kansas, complete our online request form, or call an experienced electrician today!

Topeka:
Lawrence:
(785) 228-2478
(785) 845-2360

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