In most cases, a circuit breaker that trips occasionally is not a major problem. But if a circuit breaker trips repeatedly, there is usually a reason for it. It can cut off power when the current reaches a level that is considered unsafe. When a circuit breaker trips, you can't use any of the outlets, switches, or fixtures it serves. If you need to fix a tripped breaker, regardless of the type of breaker you use, here's how to do it.
If you know the circuit breaker has tripped, turn off all appliances, lights, or switches on that circuit. Make sure your hands and the floor underneath are dry before touching the electrical panel.
Locate the circuit breaker that corresponds to the affected area. Move the tripped breaker to the "off" position, then move it back to the "on" position. It should click into place. Next, check the circuit and room where the power was interrupted to see if everything is OK.
If you can't reset the circuit breaker or if it trips again after resetting, it's time to troubleshoot the circuit. Some of the problems to look for include.
1. Too many appliances/devices plugged into the circuit; if the breaker works fine after you unplug some appliances, the problem is solved.
2. Is one device causing the problem. If so, unplug it and plug in a different device; this can tell you if a dedicated circuit or new device is needed.
3. The terminals are damaged. The socket may look scorched and the plug may be hot to the touch; this indicates that an electrical device problem is triggering the circuit breaker.
4. Light switch problems; if the breaker trips after opening a specific fixture or switch, you have isolated the source of the problem.
5. If you have started to narrow down the source, reset the breaker and isolate and retry the specific device before other devices. This will help find the cause of the problem.
If you have a voltage tester, turn off all lights and appliances on the tripped circuit breaker. Then loosen the screws and remove the metal frame around the panel breaker. With the panel exposed, you can now test the breaker using a 120 V multimeter using AC voltage. Place the red pin on the "hot" terminal screw and the black pin on the neutral bar; the reading should show 120 V, but if the breaker is damaged, the reading will be zero.
Circuit breakers are not designed to be repaired. You will need to replace any that are defective. This can usually be done without an electrician. To proceed, turn off the branch circuit and then the main breaker. Use a voltage tester to confirm that no current is flowing to the panel. Use a screwdriver to disconnect the wire from the terminal where the faulty breaker is located.
Carefully pry out the old circuit breaker. Each is mounted and locked into place in some way, so you will need to insert the new breaker accordingly. Then connect the lead wires to the terminals and tighten all terminal screws. After replacing the panel cover, you can open the main circuit breaker and then open each branch circuit, one at a time. Test each breaker with a voltmeter and if everything is OK, try each fixture and device on the circuit to make sure it is working properly.
Comments will be approved before showing up.