Every residential electrical system consists of a network of circuits that are regulated and protected by either circuit breakers or fuses. The former is used in most modern homes, while older homes rely on the latter.
The fuses and circuit breakers of your home can be found in its main electrical panel. If all the lighting and appliances in one portion of your home have gone off, it’s likely due to tripped circuit breakers or blown fuses.
A tripped circuit breaker can be quite annoying—particularly if it happens at an inconvenient time and especially if it becomes a recurring problem. So how do you steer clear of this problem? Well, you first have to understand what causes a circuit breaker to trip.
Here are three common reasons:
Perhaps the most prevalent cause behind tripping breakers is overload. This occurs when too many light fixtures, devices, or appliances are switched on at the same time, which leads to the circuit drawing electricity that it can handle. Consequently, the internal sensing mechanism of the circuit breaker heats up, and it “trips”.
In other words, circuit breakers are essentially safety mechanisms that are designed to prevent the circuits from overheating and catching fire.
Short circuits are also caused circuit breakers to trip. These should be taken more seriously than overloaded circuits. A “hard short” happens when a hot and neutral wire comes into contact with each other. This creates an uninterrupted, abrupt flow of current due to reduced resistance, causing the tripping mechanism of the circuit to activate.
With that said, the circuitry isn’t the only reason why breakers trip. It could also be a specific appliance or device that’s plugged into the circuit. If the breaker instantly trips after you reset it, it’s likely there’s a short circuit somewhere along the circuit.
This short circuit happens when a live wire comes into contact with a wood framing member, a ground wire, or a metal wall box. These pose a very real threat of shock, especially in areas that have high moisture levels, like kitchens and bathrooms.
BG Electric Service LLC is a highly reputed licensed electrician serving both commercial and residential clients in Philadelphia. If you would like to learn more about the common causes behind tripping circuit breakers, or are looking to hire electrical services, get in touch with us today.