Circuit breakers are modern devices that have replaced consumable fuses with an easy-to-use and safer way of protecting your electrical system. These devices are simple—when they detect too much current being drawn by one system, they trip and shut off, preventing an over-current situation that can potentially be dangerous to your home. When one circuit draws too much current, it starts to generate heat and this heat is what causes melted wiring, fires, and other serious hazards.
However, if you have one breaker that seems to trip all the time for seemingly no reason, you may be frustrated trying to figure out how to prevent a circuit breaker from tripping. In some cases, it may simply be a situation where your breaker is old and needs to be replaced. In others, it may be something in your circuit that is drawing too much current or creating too much resistance, resulting in a dangerous situation that causes your breaker to trip.
Here are three tips to help prevent a circuit breaker from tripping:
Don’t Overload One Circuit
The easiest way to prevent your circuit breaker from constantly tripping is to simply not overload one circuit. Keeping your electrical load split between multiple circuits means each breaker won’t have to bear the full load of current flowing through. That means you’re less likely to accidentally overload a breaker, causing it to trip and shut off. If you find that one particular breaker seems to shut down more often than others, then there’s a good chance that it’s simply overloaded. Try unplugging some devices or not using some while using others and see if it helps. This is particularly common in kitchens, where cooking appliances like an electric range, oven, microwave and more can all be on and working simultaneously, drawing an immense amount of current through one small, single-circuit breaker.
Install GFCI Outlets
A ground-fault circuit interrupter is a device designed to shut off an outlet when it detects too much current flowing through it. Think of it like a fuse that you don’t have to replace, or a small circuit breaker that focuses on just one outlet. While these are designed to protect you when using electricity in higher-risk areas like your bathrooms or kitchen, they can also help you prevent your circuit breakers from tripping frequently. Because a circuit breaker is designed to trip and shut off when too much current flows through it, limiting the current that flows through it should keep it on and functioning normally. Thus, putting a GFCI on outlets located along particularly vulnerable circuits will ensure that the current draw remains low and your breaker remains active. Not to mention this also doubles as a way of improving your home’s electrical safety.
You should absolutely have a ground fault circuit interrupter outlet installed in each receptacle in every one of the following locations:
- All bathrooms
- Any outdoor locations
- Garage (especially near sinks, refrigerators or freezers)
- Pools or spas
You may also want to consider installing GFCI outlets in areas like children’s bedrooms—they could save your child’s life in the event of an accidental short.
Replace Old Electrical Components
Over time, electrical components will grow old and wear out. As equipment grows old, it provides more resistance which must be overcome by drawing more current. Drawing more current generates more heat and more heat creates some of the situations we’ve previously discussed—where the risk of fire or injury increases significantly. The extra current also increases the risk that your circuit breaker trips and causes that particular circuit to shut down entirely. In some cases, you may not think you’re overloading your breaker, but the age of everything from the breaker itself to the wires in your wall to the receptacles attached to those wires can all cause it to draw too much current.
If you’re struggling with a circuit breaker, have it professionally replaced by the San Jose electricians from Valley Heating, Cooling, Electrical and Solar! Give us a call at (408) 868-5500 today.