Breaker keeps tripping

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Published: May 13, 2014 Last Updated: April 7, 2024

Call for Circuit Breaker Replacement When

Generally you should call for a circuit breaker replacement or at least have an electrician look at the breakers when:   

  • The circuit breaker is hot to the touch, a little warmth is generally OK
  • You can smell burning odor in the breaker panel
  • The circuit breaker trips constantly, even after you have reset it a number of times
  • When you can hear buzzing type or popping sound from the breaker
  • If there is visible damage, such as burned metal or frayed wires
  • If the breaker is over 30 or 40 years old

Why circuit breakers trip

Generally circuit breakers trip because of an overloaded circuit, a short, or a ground fault.

Breakers are designed to trip or as some say, pop when these types of conditions occur. They do this for safety purposes and your protection.

Overloading of the circuit.

One of the most common causes of a breaker tripping is that the circuit is overloaded. This overloading is basically too much power running through the circuit, which causes it to trip.

Too many appliance plugged into one circuit will do this

If you have too many appliances plugged into one circuit, such as a hairdryer, a iron, etc. Then they may overload the circuit. If the circuit is overloaded and the breaker does not trip, then a fire may occur. Therefore, it is very important to have breakers and that they function properly. Other things that may cause overloading are electric heaters, lamps with a number of high wattage bulbs, etc.

Loose connection

Also, loose connections, although less common, may cause a circuit breaker to trip. These connections may be where the appliance is plugged into a old and worn outlet, or a screw holding the wire is not tighten downed properly. If the screw connection holding the wire has worked loose over time, then re-tightening the screw connection may solve the problem.


When one wire, a hotwire, which is often black, red or other similar colors, touches another hotwire or a neutral wire, which is normally white in color, then a short occurs.  A break in the wire may likewise cause a short.

Ground fault

When a hotwire touches a ground wire, which is usually a non-insulated wire or  a green wire with the insulation missing or damaged, or the hotwire touches the side of the metal electrical box or conduit, then a ground fault occurs. It’s a type of short-circuit. Remember that the short may be in the electrical wiring of the house, such as in the walls or in an electrical box, or it may be in some item that is plugged in to an outlet, such as a lamp or other appliance.

Electricians can usually locate and correct these type of issues with ease.

Who to consult? 

Electricians can usually diagnose why a breaker keeps tripping quickly.

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We purchased a home 8 years ago and it had lights around the porch that you could turn on with a switch from the inside for more lighting. This porch was an addition to the home and if it was ever damp out, if you turned on the switch, the power for the whole entire front living room would shut off and we would have to switch the breaker in order to get the power back on after everything in the front living room (the front area switches were turned off. Why would that be happening? Curious homeowner…

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