How to Tell if My Circuit Breaker is Bad
A circuit breaker can go bad prematurely due to the summer heat. If this happens, the circuit breaker might never trip, even if there’s too much electricity flowing through that circuit.
Simply put – this is a serious problem because it can eventually lead to an electrical fire in your home. That’s a scary thought, even for our electricians.
Typical signs of a bad circuit breaker:
- Burning smell coming from the electrical panel
- Circuit breaker is hot to the touch
- Burned parts, ragged wires, & obvious signs of wear are visible
Rule Out These Common Electrical Problems Before Concluding You Have a Bad Breaker
- Short circuit – usually caused when certain wires accidentally touch.
- Overload circuit – appliance(s) are pulling more amps than the circuit breaker is made to allow.
You may think one of your circuit breakers has gone bad because it’s constantly tripping. However, that’s not always the case. Circuit breakers trip to protect you and your home from electrical issues such as short circuits or overloaded circuits, that could cause fires.
How to Determine if Your Circuit Breaker Has Gone Bad
1) Identify the Breaker & What Devices Its Protecting
When you’re standing at your circuit breaker panel, look for either the label next to the tripping breaker or the label sheet on the panel’s door.
These labels will tell you what circuit this breaker is protecting. Just be sure these are labeled correctly. We’ve seen plenty of mislabeled panels in our travels.
2) Unplug Appliances & Devices on that Breaker
Flip the breaker firmly into the OFF position.
Using what you discovered on the breaker’s label, unplug and disconnect the lamps, television, computers, or whatever electrical device or appliance is associated with that circuit.
Don’t forget – rule out the case for a short circuit or overload circuit. A circuit that has more amps flowing through it than it can handle will cause it to seem like a bad circuit. Reference the beginning of this article.
3) Reset the Circuit Breaker
You can reset your circuit breaker by pushing the breaker firmly into the ON position. Then observe what the circuit breaker does next to determine your issue.
If the breaker doesn’t immediately trip but does trips once your appliances are plugged back in and are powered up, you’re running into two problems. The two electrical issues are either a short circuit or an electrical overload.
Have a Licensed Electrician Inspect Your Circuit
- Have a short circuit
- Need to upgrade your breaker
- Need to remove several appliances from that circuit
After reading this article and following the steps, have determined you have a bad breaker, contact us and we’ll get one of our experienced electricians out to your home.