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A circuit breaker tripping occasionally is no cause for much of a concern. But if it trips repeatedly, that’s cause for worry. 

The circuit breaker is designed to cut the power off if the electrical current flowing through is at a level deemed unsafe, which is when it trips. Once a circuit breaker trips, you cannot use any switches, outlets, or any fixture it serves.  

Read on to learn how to fix a circuit breaker after tripping.

What is a Circuit Breaker?

A circuit breaker is an electrical safety device. It’s designed to protect an electrical circuit from damage from a short circuit, ground fault, or overcurrent. 

The circuit breaker interrupts current flow when an excessive amount of energy flows. That way, it protects your equipment and prevents the risk of fire.

Steps in Fixing a Tripped Circuit Breaker

Close-up of a hand reaching into a circuit breaker to flip a switch

Here’s how to fix a tripped circuit breaker:

Step 1: Reset the Tripped Circuit Breaker

Before resetting a tripped circuit breaker, take the necessary precautionary measures. Turn off your appliances, switches, or lights on that electrical circuit. The floor and your hands should be dry to avoid shock.

  1. Locate the electrical panel–usually located in the utility room, basement, garage, or hallway.
  2. Review the map or list of rooms each breaker serves. Find the one corresponding to the issue.
  3. Turn the tripped breaker to an off position, then back on. You should hear it click into place.
  4. Switch on the lights or appliances on that circuit.

Step 2: Check for Any Circuit Issues

If you reset the tripped breaker to no avail or the circuit breaker trips again, it’s time to troubleshoot. Some potential issues:

  • One specific device causing issues: Unplug and connect the device to a different source. You may need a new device instead.
  • Too many devices on one circuit. Unplug some devices. If the breaker works, it means you were causing circuit overload. 
  • Damage. If your terminal plugs are too hot to touch or sockets appear scorched, it means an electrical power issue is triggering the tripping. 
  • Broken switches. If the breaker trips after switching on lights or turning on a particular fixture, you might have a broken switch.

Step 3: Test the Circuit Breaker

To test the circuit breaker box, turn off everything on it. Remove the screws from the frame around the breakers and remove the frame. With the panel exposed, use the 120V multimeter AC voltage to test it.

Attach the black prong to the breaker’s neutral wire and the red one to the hot wire. If the circuit is okay, the reading will be 120V. But if faulty, it will read zero.

How to Replace a Broken Circuit Breaker

An electrician with red gloves using tools to work on a white circuit breaker

You cannot repair a circuit breaker once the fuses are damaged. You must replace it. You can do so by following these steps:

  1. Turn off the branch circuits before turning off the main breaker.
  2. Use a voltage tester to check that no electricity is running from the fuse box.
  3. Use a screwdriver to disconnect the wiring that’s attached to the faulty breaker.
  4. Carefully pull out the old circuit breaker and fit in the new one accordingly.
  5. Next, attach the load wire to the terminals and tighten its screws.
  6. Replace the panel cover and turn on the main breaker, followed by each branch circuit, one at a time.
  7. Finally, use the voltage meter to test each breaker. Try each appliance and fixture on the circuit to ensure it’s working.

How to Avoid Tripped Breakers

  • Avoid running many appliances and devices on the circuit simultaneously.
  • Transfer some devices from the overloaded circuit to other circuits drawing less power.
  • Consider installing GFCI outlets. These ensure the outlet shuts off in case of a ground fault before the breaker trips.
  • Replace old fixtures, outlets, cords, and light switches.
  • Replace the circuit breaker.
  • Consider having an electrician separate hardwired devices drawing too much power from a single circuit. They can relieve the load by creating an entirely new circuit and moving them there.

Got Circuit Breaker Problems? Contact U.S. Electric Now!

Close-up of a circuit breaker being held by an electrician wearing an orange glove

The electrical panel and circuit breakers are vital for the circuitry of every home. If you have circuit breaker issues, leave it to the professionals to handle them. Our experienced, skilled, and licensed electricians are trained to identify the causes of tripped breakers and fix them right away.

Note that any electrical troubleshooting is risky, so the best option is to hire the pros. For more info, call U.S. Electric today!