A normal issue in your home is a resetting the circuit breaker. You’ve probably had a tripped circuit and reset the circuits at the breaker box plenty of times. Usually, it’s just flipping some switches and everything’s good. What to you do if the circuit breaker won’t let you reset it? What’s causing this? What can you do to reset it? If your circuit breaker won’t reset, you might need to call a professional, but hopefully there are a few things to check and try before contacting an electrician.
Checking if You Reset the Breaker
First, make sure you’re actually resetting the breaker, and the right switches, correctly. It may be a simple reason, as in are you flipping all the switches back again? Be sure you push any breakers off fully to “off” and then fully to “on.”
Sometimes, switches in a box will be labeled incorrectly or not at all. If it’s hard to see, or confusing with wrong or no labeling, it’s possible you have left some switches off, or not pushed all the way back to on, when working with circuit breakers.
When resetting the circuits, the breakers have to be off before going back on and resetting right. So if you moved the switch, but didn’t hear a click to know it was fully off, you’ll need to redo the reset.
If you’ve been trying to turn it on without turning it off initially, this could be the reason your circuit breaker will not reset.
You might need a flashlight, if you’re now in the dark, to check all the switches in the box. Simply see if they are all on. You could have one switch stuck between off and on if it was hard to move. You want to move each switch, to off or on, until it clicks at off or on.
Is it an Overloaded Circuit?
You’ve got a tripped circuit breaker. You’re able to reset it, maybe on the second or third attempt though, then it trips and cuts out again a few minutes later. This could be an overloaded circuit.
An overloaded circuit can come from too many appliances or devices plugged in to the same circuit or room of the house. There could be a faulty device shorting the whole circuit or system. Overloaded circuits are more usual in older homes, or just older kitchens, offices or bathrooms with too many modern-day energy users.
To fix the problem, disconnect everything and reset the breaker. If it remains reset, plug in everything one at a time, until the problem happens again.
If too much power goes through the wires in a circuit, the power overload makes the breaker trip and breaks the circuit. This prevents more damage.
As an example, most electrical outlets and devices in a home are rated 15 amp or 20 amp.
Any time the watts (electrical power) being used exceeds the circuit’s amp rating, the breaker trips. It should, for safety reasons. Once the breaker trips, the circuit is broken. It should be manually reset to let electricity run again.
Here are a few reasons a breaker might trip:
- Too many devices or appliances (especially major ones) on one circuit
- Adding a new device that draws more power than you normally use (power tools, a new TV, a new computer).
- Using two or more extension cords on one circuit.
- A short circuit starts a spike of electricity at the same or a different circuit.
It Could Be a Short Circuit
If a circuit breaker will not reset and/or trips right away, the issue could be a short circuit. A short circuit happens when a hot wire carrying electricity contacts a neutral wire. In this example, the flipped breaker is a safety device and it is working as it should. A short circuit can trigger broken devices, getting too hot or even a fire. If you think a short circuit is why a circuit breaker is tripping, turn the breaker off and call an expert electrician.
Troubleshooting the Problem
You’ll know your circuit breaker is a problem if you instantly lose power in part of your house. You may have experienced a situation and problems like this:
You’re watching TV when it unexpectedly shuts off, together with nearby lights, ceiling fans and everything else electric nearby. You assume the breaker has tripped the power, so you head to the panel box to reset the breaker.
You flip the switch into the “Off” position, after that you switch it back to “On” to reset it. Now, nothing happens. The breaker won’t reset.
Or it resets yet trips once more instantly or within a matter of minutes. If something similar occurred and you can’t reset the breaker, there are a few things that could be the culprit.
Call a Pro or Try DIY?
Even without electrical expertise and proper safety training, you may be able to handle some simple, safe fixes if your breaker isn’t resetting. Other problems are more complicated and need a licensed, trained expert pro.
The pro-level issues typically are, anything where contact between wiring, especially all electric wiring, is possible. These are cases that will require a professional’s experience and training.
Your best bet? Hire an expert to do the job. South End Electric has the background and understanding to ensure a safe and smooth installation. We can provide electrical safety inspections and installation, inspections and work with GFCI outlets. In addition, our professionals provide whole-house generator sales and installation to meet your needs. See everything South End Electric can do for you. Call us direct at 704-368-4694.