If you’re like most people, you probably don’t give much thought to your circuit breakers until you lose electrical power. However, it’s the circuit breakers that protect a house or building from having an electrical overload, which can not only damage appliances but cause a fire. There are several factors that can cause circuit breakers to trip. Here are some of the main causes for circuit breakers tripping and information on when you should call a licensed electrician.

Circuit Overload

The most common and basic cause for a circuit breaker tripping is too much power consumption. This occurs when an electrical circuit draws more amperage than it can manage, causing the circuit breaker to trip (as designed) as a safeguard against electrical overload. This is most common when vacuums and other higher power electrical appliances are added to a normal load. When this occurs, disconnect the appliance from the overloaded circuit and find another outlet for electrical power.

If you are not sure which appliance may be tripping the circuit breaker, unplug each item sharing that circuits power supply (often labeled by room at the breaker panel). After locating and resetting the tripped breaker, wait a few minutes then plug and test each appliance in separately to determine if any one is responsible for the overload. In many cases it may be a combination of several appliances drawing too much power off a single circuit, at which time you may just want to locate and use other outlets. But if you suspect a problem or if you notice circuit breakers tripping more frequently, contact Penny Electric to troubleshoot the issue so as to avoid further problems or damage.

For older homes or buildings where you find that you need to delivery more power to a room or workspace, Penny Electric can help with adding additional electrical outlets, lighting fixtures, and increasing supply. This includes the addition of higher capacity / 220 outlets for dryers, welders and other high voltage requirements.

Defective GFI Wiring and Faulty Breaker Components

A GFI (ground-fault interrupter) breaker, also known as a GFCI, is designed to protect people from electrical shock in locations where they use appliances or tools. GFI’s as opposed to circuit breakers (located in a centralized panel) trip at the outlet and typically have reset buttons on the outlet plate. Many GFI’s even have LEDs to indicate power status so you know if there has been a power interruption without having to test.

In the Las Vegas and Henderson areas, GFI failures are extremely common due to low quality components used by local home builders. In most cases home or business owners will experience a power loss that only affects the single GFI outlets, and the problem will continue to worsen until any power usage trips the circuit. At this point the GFI outlet needs to be replaced and should only be done so by a licensed electrician.

Other causes of GFI failures including improper wiring or inefficient appliances that are shorting or pulling too much power due to load or electric motor failure. In all cases, a licensed electrician should be commissioned to troubleshoot and manage the electrical repairs.

Electrical Shorts

Often, circuit breakers trip because of electrical shorts, which can be caused by defective wiring due to exposure to the elements or damage from rodents or other pests. Identifying and locating an electrical short can be difficult, but you should never ignore the problem. In most cases, repairs involve locating and replacing the damaged wiring or electrical components, and is not something that will ‘self correct’ or be reliably repaired with a simple fix.

The technicians at Penny Electric have extensive training and the proper tooling to quickly and accurately identify shorts and perform the proper repairs without major interruption to structural surroundings or adjacent electrical circuits.

Ground Faults

A ground fault, which is much like an electrical short, is the result of a “hot” wire contacting a ground wire. It can also occur when a live wire touches the grounded part of a device, an appliance or part of a junction box. Ground faults involve large amounts of electrical current that are propelled through a circuit breaker or fuse. This leads to a fuse blowing or circuit breaker tripping. The process of repairing ground faults is much like that with electrical shorts, and should always involved a properly licensed and trained electrician.

Potential Fixes and When to Call a Licensed Electrician

Tripped circuit breakers are common and typically only require resetting the breaker. To do this, you must first locate the service panel most often located in garages or basements and then by determining which circuit is affected. A tripped breaker is usually evident when a switch position is between the on and off position. After moving the breaker first to the off then on position, see if power has been restored. If the power is still off, or if the breaker continues to trip … chances are there has been an equipment failure and in the absence of identifying an appliance as a cause you should give us a call to troubleshoot further.

Considerations and Warnings

  • Besides failing to provide electricity, defective circuit breakers can be hazardous or even fatal. Electrical problems are a major contributor to fires but dangers may also include electrocution, shock and burns.
  • When resetting a circuit breaker, protect your eyes by wearing safety goggles. Also, stand to the side of a panel in case any sparks are ommitted from the breaker when moving it.
  • Use a flashlight for illumination when the power is off.
  • When working in damp areas, examine electrical equipment and cords to make sure they’re in good shape and don’t have any cuts or defects. Its imperative to make sure that any live wires do not come in contact with water.
  • To be safe, avoid any wet electrical equipment. Instead, hire an electrician to examine it and resolve the issue.
  • Older Las Vegas and Henderson homes, especially those built before the mid-1980s, should undergo a thorough inspection of circuit panels and have any original major electrical panels or equipment updated for continued safe and reliable use.

Never ignore a circuit breaker that trips. And if you have one that persists, don’t hesitate to contact us. At Penny Electric, we’ve earned the reputation for providing fast, high quality service. Our family-run business serves both home and business owners in Las Vegas, Henderson, Green Valley, Summerlin and areas surrounding Southern Nevada.