Each week we receive several calls from homeowners experiencing problems with a circuit breaker tripping. It’s wise to have a licensed electrician check your panel to rule out a serious problem because this can be an indicator of an overloaded circuit or faulty wiring. If not repaired, these situations could lead to an electrical fire.
We’ve written about the dangers of electrical fires before and we urge homeowners to have the cause of a circuit breaker tripping identified by a licensed electrician. Always leave the breaker switched off until an electrician can inspect your panel.
If an electrician identifies the problem as an over-loaded circuit one of the solutions is to add an additional circuit and breaker in your panel to safely accommodate the required current load. Depending on access (open crawlspace or attic), the capacity of your panel, the location of the panel (and distance from it to the room requiring the additional circuit), this task can range from relatively simple to complex. A licensed electrician can advise you regarding the degree of difficulty and provide an estimated cost to perform this work in your particular situation.
A less costly solution (if appropriate) is to reduce the load on the existing circuit. Not plugging too many small appliances into the same circuit can help as can switching lightbulbs to LEDs. Portable heaters draw a lot of power and should not be plugged into a circuit that is already at or near capacity. An electrician can advise you of the safest solution in your particular situation.
A circuit breaker tripping repeatedly can also be caused by a worn out breaker. If an electrician has identified that your circuit is NOT overloaded, your breaker may simply have reached the end of its normal expected lifespan. We typically see this in homes once they reach 20-30 years of age. Good news – a simple breaker replacement is a quick and easy fix!
Most breakers are widely available but on occasion, breakers for very old panels (and some specialty breakers) can be somewhat difficult to source. Your electrician will advise you of availability and should provide an estimated price to complete this work for you.
If you live in the Comox Valley and are experiencing problems with a circuit breaker tripping, give us a call. We’d be happy to send a licensed electrician to investigate the problem and advise you of the recommended solution.
If you are unsure about how to hire a licensed electrician, see our article on what questions to ask, credentials to check and what to watch out for!