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Why Your Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping?: Reasons & Preventions

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We all keep on using circuit breaker in our houses, it safeguards the electrical power systems and can be operated both automatically and manually. If we look into the functioning of the circuits, we will find a mainframe where a specific amount of electricity comes in from the supplier and is then split across the appliances. It enables the grounding of the excess electricity without which the wiring will get energized and the user is exposed to grave danger.

By now we understand that the electrical charge that flows through our houses needs a circuit to prevent any kind of electrical fires or shocks. While creating an electrical circuit plan, there’s a need to ground the charge by reaching zero voltage.

We also call this phenomenon earthing and it is the key that protects leakage of charge when we use electricity in our house. Some households have dedicated circuits for appliances, this is particularly to streamline the electrical setup and protect other, connected appliances.

The tripping of electrical circuits can be particularly annoying, but we must look at it as a warning sign. Tripping, if it’s rare, is preventive. But if the circuit breaker keeps tripping is an out and loud warning. Due to resistance, when an electric current is passed through the wires, they have a tendency to heat up.

Electric circuits break when the load is increased which is highly dangerous not only for the electrical setup but is also unsafe. We will discuss this in detail in this article.

Why Your Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

1.  Circuit Overload

What is circuit overload?

In layman terms, electrical circuits are devised to handle a specific amount of electricity. When the amount of current flowing through the circuit increases the amount it is actually designed to handle, an overload happens. In this case, there is a bright chance that the wires can heat up to cause an electrical fire. This can also melt the plastic coating of the wire and lead to electrical shocks, which is endangering the life of your loved ones.

We, in general, have different circuits that handle a specific set of or a particular home appliance to avoid circuit overload. Appliances that have a dedicated circuit work more efficiently and can last longer. This also reduces the load on a single circuit, and therefore, prevents circuit overload or fuze burst. The circuits specifically used for a single appliance are called dedicated circuits.

What to do when a circuit overload happens?

When a circuit overload happens, it’s simple to fix can be that you shift the plugged-in devices from the overload circuit to the general circuit. You can either replace the fuse or flip the circuit breaker back.

When you check for the circuit that has tripped, you can look for the appliances that are connected to that specific circuit. Do not turn it on immediately!

Switch off all the appliances that are connected and then turn on the circuit.

At this point, you will be needed to turn on each appliance one at a time, and if the circuit falls by turning on a specific one. It’s the faulty appliance, and your circuit is safe!

The best solution is to look for warning signs when the circuit is getting overloaded:

  • Be vigilant of the voltage fluctuations, dimming or flickering of lights. If there’s a sudden voltage change, immediately check the fuse board.
  • Receptacles produce a crackling sound, most of us have a tendency to avoid such minor sounds. But if they are coming from the receptacles, give your circuit a quick check.
  • Stay aware of a burning odour coming from the switchboards now this is an unavoidable warning. When wires heat up, they produce a burning sound. This is a sign that calls for immediate action.
  • Like we concluded earlier that because of resistance in the wires, when electricity is passed, they have a tendency to heat up which is controlled by the circuit. However, as soon as you feel the socket boards are heating up, and they have gotten warm, time to take action.
  • Appliances will switch on and off, automatically. No, it’s not because of the presence of a ghost when that happens, it’s a sign that your circuit might be overloading.

Safety Precautions while dealing with Circuit Overload

  • Refrain from using equipment with broken plugs and damaged insulation. The core is generally made of a conductor, and there is a chance that you might get electrocuted.
  • Avoid water around you at all times while handling a circuit overload condition! This also includes not touching the circuit with wet hands. Water is a conductor, and therefore you will definitely get an electric shock!
  • Make sure you are using rubber gloves, that will act as a protective gear. Now, these gloves will act as an insulating covering when you handle the circuit. In addition to the gloves, do put on your slippers.
  • Do not use steel or aluminium ladders to reach the electric board. These are again conductors and might get your body electrocuted.
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2.  Surge due to a Ground Fault

What is the surge of a ground fault and why does that happen?

When a ground fault occurs, the current spikes up which leads to tripping of the circuit. In simple terms, this happens when an electrical current travels through the ground instead of the path that was intended for it.

This occurs due to an energized conductor coming in contact with the ground frame. More often than not, ground faults are the results of an insulation breakdown.

It can also damage the electrical equipment, this occurs mostly because of the worn-out wiring, insulation, settling of dust particles or moisture, or if the equipment is too old. This is particularly dangerous for areas where the moisture content is high, for example, bathrooms or kitchens. Lighting is also one of the most common reasons for electrical spikes resulting in damaging of the equipment.

Another prominent reason includes using high voltage equipment like refrigerators and air conditioners all at once. We need to stay aware of these aspects as a preventive measure.

You definitely, and quickly need to call for a professional when a source of the ground fault happens! He will be able to best pinpoint the fault.

It is highly recommended to have frequent checks of the electrical circuit to avoid a hazard.

How to identify Ground Faults?

Ground Faults can be identified by looking at the following points.

  • Your Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter or GFCI will go off, causing the electricity connection to shut down. This is a preventive mechanism used to save your electronics from overcharging.This GFCI is basically a circuit breaker and is usually present in the Circuit Breaker Box inside or outside your house. Check if any circuit breaker switches have been reset. In case, there are switches in the alternate position, switching them back will resume the flow of electricity.
  • There is an electrical appliance which is causing this issue. In most cases, there is an appliance which is throwing off the circuits in your house. This could be anything from a food processor to a hot Iron. Unplug all your electrical appliances and plug them one by one to see which device is causing the GFCI to break. Once you have identified the device, get it replaced with an appropriate voltage one.
  • There could be water leakage. Ground faults can easily be triggered due to water leakage. When water spills into the circuit box of your house, it enables excessive electricity to go through, thus overloading the circuit. If you think it’s a water issue, be extra careful before opening the circuit box. Use rubber gloves or a plastic rod to open the box and check for water leakage. Professional help is advisable in this scenario.

How to prevent Ground Faults?

The best way to protect yourself from ground faults is by checking the health of your GFCI or tripped circuit breaker. Follow the below-mentioned guidelines for the same.

  • If you have recently faced a ground fault, it’ll be worth checking the GFCI mechanism. There could be chances that it got damaged or it needs maintenance.
  • Check if the GFCI has is properly insulated and there’s no chance of water seeping into the circuit.
  • It’s advisable to test the GFCI once after a storm has passed through the area or there have been lightning strikes.

3.  Check for circuit shorting:

So, first of all, let’s understand what short circuits are.

Reiterating the fact that, any and every form of wiring has some resistance in it that can lead to heating up of the wiring. When a heated wire comes in contact with a neutral wire, the resistance decreases instantly. The reason is that electricity always wants to take the shortest route in a circuit to reach the ground, or say go back into the ground. The shortest path is a more direct route offering the least resistance.
This leads to the occurrence of heavy flow voltage in an unexpected wire or let’s say pathway.

Just FYI, if electricity thinks that you are the shortest and most direct way to reach the ground, you are the path! Therefore, a short circuit can be quite dangerous.

How to identify a short circuit?

The primary reason behind a short circuit is a damaged set of wires that can exist anywhere in the electrical setup. Common ways to identify damaged wires are mentioned below.

  • There is a loose wire inside the junction box which is responsible for excessive current to circulate in the circuit.
  • Damaged electrical outlets can give rise to a short circuit. In case, you have a damaged outlet which is plugged incorrectly with an appliance, it can lead to a short circuit in no time.
  • Exposed wires are the biggest culprits of a short circuit taking place. This can take place due to rodent or pest infestation or poorly managed equipment that is wearing off. When the insulation on the wire wears off, it becomes a hot target for short-circuiting.
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How to prevent a short circuit?

When handling a problem with circuit shorting, make sure that all the appliances are switched off. Again in case of a short circuit, you will have to identify the circuit that has tripped and either connect your appliances to a different circuit altogether or replace the fuse. You can also reset the same.

  • Inspect the outlets before use. Outlets often become a reason for short-circuiting and it is advisable that you make the following checks before using them
    • There shouldn’t be any buzzing sound in the outlet, as it directly signals there are damaged wires inside it.
    • There are swatches or burns around the outlet that represent that it has caught fire in the past.
    • If the outlet is older than 15 years, it’s the best that you get it replaced.
  • Maintain your circuit breakers. The circuit breakers are the first line of defence against circuit shorting and in case they’re not in the optimum health, the risks increase. Perform basic maintenance on your circuit breakers by replacing old breakers and fixing any cracks in the circuit breaker board.
  • Avoid very old or faulty appliances. If you’re using old and faulty appliances, there is a high chance that they have broken wires that can cause a short circuit. Always inspect the appliances before usage. Look for signs of breakage or worn wires in the appliances.


Electrical issues in the house can be life-threatening, and fixing them can dig a hole in your pocket. It is always the best option to keep the electrical circuits in check to avoid the occurrence of such mishappenings. As they say, prevention is better than cure! In this case, it’s cost-efficient too.

We can thereby draw a conclusion that frequent circuit tripping is the warning sign that needs to be taken seriously.

Your electrician will be well versed of the load coming into the mainframe and the distribution.

It is highly recommended if you call a professional to fix the faults in the circuits and also pinpoint other reasons why your circuit is tripping.

Because the fixing required will best be handled by a professional!

How to fix a breaker that keeps tripping?

Be cautious about the tripping circuit breaker in your house. It is an essential part of your house electrical system as it prevents incidents of an electrical fire. If your house’s electrical breaker keeps tripping, follow this: - Use less number of appliances that draw high current like AC, Microwave, etc. - Upgrade your house wiring by adding additional circuits. - Hire a professional to check if there is any short circuit.

Why does a circuit breaker keep tripping immediately?

Well, there can be various reasons for frequent and sudden tripping incidents. A circuit breaker keeps tripping because: - It is overloaded, i.e., you are running more devices that require high current input. - There is a short circuit in your house’s electrical connections. - Ground fault, i.e., the ground and live wire touch and high amount of current flow through the circuit breaker. Thus, making it a trip.

How to test a circuit breaker that keeps tripping?

The process of testing a circuit breaker that keeps tripping is really easy but it must be carried out with certain precautions. - Turn off the circuit breaker followed by all the appliances in your house. - Turn the breaker back on and one by one the appliances. - Closely analyze how many devices can run easily before the breaker keeps tripping. - You can try turning on different devices to see the performance of the breaker.

Can water trip a circuit breaker?

Yes, it is possible that the circuit breaker keeps tripping due to water. It is called a ground fault, and it happens if the water finds its way into a switch box or electrical outlet. As water conducts electricity very well, it can lead the current out of the intended wiring and increase the current level. This makes the circuit breaker trip.

Are circuit breakers dangerous?

Yes, it can be dangerous provided if the tripping is frequently happening. The circuit breaker has a voltage in it, even if it is off. So, it is necessary for you to wear rubber gloves and rubber footwear while touching the circuit breaker. However, it is recommended that you get an electrician for your tripping circuit breaker.

Can a bad capacitor trip a breaker?

Yes, in the case of high voltage devices like an air conditioner, a bad capacitor can be the reason for a circuit breaker that keeps tripping. The capacitor is a component in the air conditioner responsible for starting the cooling compressor. If the compressor does not start properly, it can harness more current that may damage the capacitor and trip the circuit breaker.

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