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Understanding circuit breakers, why they trip and what to do when they trip

Updated: Jul 17, 2019

How does a circuit breaker work

It is highly likely that at some point in your life you will have come across a faulty circuit breaker, either domestically or commercially. A circuit breaker is a type of electrical switch that controls and protects the wiring circuits that feed outlets, fixtures, and any other appliances in a building. These specialised switches can be used as simple On and Off switches to turn off circuits when making repairs and improvements. Also they have a design that allows them to completely shut off automatically when there is too much current flowing through wires, or when there is a potentially dangerous circuit interruption, commonly known as a short circuit.

What causes circuit breakers to trip

Circuit breakers also shut off the power in the event of electrical surges, such as when lightning strikes occur, causing the buildings wiring to be overwhelmed with too much voltage. The automatic function of circuit breakers offers critical safety protection to the a buildings wiring system, this since excessive voltage can be extremely dangerous as well as cause high damage and lead to fires or the ruin of appliances. When an appliance or light fixture suddenly goes dead, it is highly likely that a circuit breaker has tripped and the the power flow to the electrical circuit has been interrupted.

A circuit breaker that trips repeatedly, or trips again instantly after being reset is often an indication of something more serious. Typically circuit breakers trip because a circuit is drawing too much current in relation to the amperage rating of the circuit breaker and the wires it is feeding. The best solution to prevent this kind of tripping is by reducing the electrical load on the circuit. This can be achieved by moving appliances to outlets that are being fed by different circuits.

Contact a professional

Professionals should be called immediately if you are experiencing regular circuit outages, can smell or detect anything burning, or you notice any sign of deterioration, around your circuit breaker or main circuit breaker box. Ignoring electrical failure can result in serious damage, injuries and in worst case scenarios, fatalities.

You should have an electrician examine the wiring and correct the situation. Making sure that you leave the circuit breaker in the OFF position until the situation can be investigated and resolved.

If after reading this you think that you have a requirement for this service, click here to find out more about our Electrical Compliance services. Or call us today - 01604 696113, our team are always happy to help.


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