How to Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker

How to Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker

How to Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker

(Last Updated On: June 29, 2017)

If your appliances suddenly stop working, or you find yourself in the dark unexpectedly, it’s a likely possibility that you have a tripped circuit breaker. Don’t fret — there is an incredibly simple fix to this problem that any homeowner can do themselves.

How Does a Circuit Breaker Work?

Circuit breakers are located within your home’s electrical panel, usually in a utility room or basement. Circuit breakers help to prevent electrical overload and short circuits. This helps to prevent electrical fires and damage to appliances. It does this by disconnecting the circuits when there is a surge detected. By breaking the connection, the power stops running to the affected wires.

Why Do Circuit Breakers Trip?

Electrical panels, and the circuit breakers within them have been designed to provide protection to home occupants. Circuit breakers are designed to trip for one of two reasons:

Electrical overload. Electrical overload occurs when there is too much power being drawn on a single circuit. This excess power overloads the circuit and causes the breaker to trip. This is why it is important for electrical contractors to properly plan out your home’s wiring. For example, running the dryer and dishwasher at the same time on the same circuit could easily cause a circuit breaker to trip. When too much power is detected, the breaker trips in order to stop the flow of electricity. A qualified electrician should be able to calculate and wire safe loads for your electrical panel.

Short circuit. A short circuit happens when electrical components, such as wires, accidentally cross or touch. This can happen anywhere along the circuit, from the device’s cord to the wiring running through the home. Once you have isolated the circuit the tripped breaker is on, you’ll need to trace the entire length of electrical wiring in order to check for any shorts. Ensure power is turned off before starting. If you do not feel comfortable performing this task yourself, a qualified electrician can do it for you.

You must reset a tripped circuit breaker after it has tripped in order to restore power, as the connection which completes the circuit and allows power to flow has been cut.

Avoiding Tripped Circuit Breakers

If you know what has caused your tripped circuit breaker — such as overloading a power bar — fix the issue before you reset the breaker. If you are ever unsure, don’t hesitate to contact a qualified electrical professional for assistance.

The best way to prevent a tripped circuit breaker is to ensure that your appliances are spaced out correctly. Most major appliances will require their own dedicated circuit in order to prevent power overloads. Running two appliances at the same time on the same circuit is likely to result in recurrent power outages. You should also be mindful of how your outlets are used in order to prevent overloads. Running your television on the same circuit as the living room lights (which may be turned on at the same time) could result in a power overload and tripped circuit breaker.

How to Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker

Resetting a tripped circuit breaker is incredibly simple, even more so than replacing a fuse.

  1. Head to your electrical panel and open the box. The breaker handle for the blown fuse will likely be in a position somewhere between the “on” and “off” positions. It may also have an orange or red color to indicate that it has tripped, or it may be completely in the “off” position.
  2. Once you have identified the tripped breaker, simply flip the switch all the way to the “off” position before flipping it back on the “on” position. You should hear an audible click when you do this. This should reconnect the circuit, restoring power to that line.

If you experience recurrent tripped breakers, you should contact an electrician to help diagnose and fix the problem.

What If Your Tripped Circuit Breaker Won’t Reset?

In rare instances, a circuit breaker will not be able to be reset because it has been damaged in some way. If you notice burn marks or scorching around a breaker or your electrical panel, contact a professional right away. In this case, you will need to replace the circuit breaker. The size of the breaker will determine its cost, plus the labor involved for a qualified professional to replace the breaker.

If you’re uncertain about what’s causing your tripped circuit breakers or if your home’s electrical is up to task, it’s best to consult with a qualified electrical professional you can troubleshoot and resolve any issues.

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