Circuit breaker keep tripping? It happens to almost every home and building owner in the DC area at one time or another. You plug in an appliance or flip a switch and, suddenly, everything connected to that circuit goes dead. Typically, you can venture into the basement or utility room, locate the service panel, and find the tripped breaker. After resetting the breaker, everything should work fine, but if the circuit breaker keeps tripping, it can be a sign of a more serious electrical problem.
A continually tripping circuit breaker isn’t something to ignore. If your circuit breaker keeps tripping, contact a specialist. We’re available 24/7.
What Causes a Tripped Circuit Breaker? Calculating Electrical Load
A tripped breaker is commonly caused by an overloaded circuit. Each circuit breaker has a number printed on it, indicating its maximum amperage rating. If that rating is exceeded, the breaker will trip to prevent overheating. Circuits typically run through multiple outlets, so it can be easy to overload them without realizing it. To determine the electrical load, you’ll need to do a little math.
- Disconnect every device connected to the circuit (don’t forget the light bulbs!)
- Locate the wattage rating printed on each device
- Add up all of the wattage ratings
- Divide the total wattage by 120
The number you end up with is a rough estimate of the total working amps you would use if every device on the circuit were turned on at the same time. If that number is more than 80 percent of the rating on the circuit breaker, you have an overloaded circuit. You want to keep the electrical demand under 80 percent due to variances between the stated wattage on devices and the actual energy they use. If your math indicates that the circuit is overloaded, move some of the devices to a different circuit to even out the load.
If the number is well below the rating printed on the breaker, then a more serious problem requiring electrical repair or replacement may exist.
Short Circuits and Tripped Breakers
A short circuit is a dangerous condition that’s created when electricity follows the wrong path through your wiring or devices. Short circuits can cause fires, shocks, and even electrocution. If you hear a “pop” or see a bright flash at the same time as you notice circuit breaker tripping, leave it off! If the circuit breaker keeps tripping even with all of the devices disconnected, leave it off! There is a problem with the circuit or with the breaker itself—either way, it’s time to contact Kolb Electric for a professional consultation.
We provide circuit breaker repair and replacement services for homes and businesses in Maryland, Virginia, and Washington, DC and can offer you 24-hour emergency service if you think you have a potentially dangerous circuit breaker tripping issue.