How Many Times Should You Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker?

November 15, 2015 12:04 am Published by Leave your thoughts

If you’ve ever had the experience of losing power to a particular power outlet or electrical device, with seemingly no explanation or warning, chances are good that the cause was a tripped circuit breaker. While a circuit breaker is easy enough to reset, it’s not always the case that the easiest solution is the best, which is why it can be extremely helpful to have an electrical contractor in North Scottsdale, AZ to whom you can turn for help.

Whether to reset a circuit breaker comes down to whether you truly know what caused the trip—and that the cause doesn’t pose a hazard. Circuit breakers are designed to protect you, your family and your home. If a circuit breaker trips, it means there was too much current flowing through that particular circuit breaker.

Let’s consider an example. A 15 Amp circuit breaker will trip if more than 15 Amps of current are flowing through it. In the event that you knowingly plugged appliances into that circuit whose total draw was greater than 15 Amps, you can unplug things to reduce the load and reset the breaker one time. However, unless you’re able to determine for certain the cause of that excess current, you’re better off not resetting the circuit breaker.

Beware aging wire

Unfortunately, the problem with the above example is that it’s too easy. Most trips of a circuit breaker don’t have such obvious causes, which makes the key factor harder to isolate. A big issue is that wiring ages, and over time, the insulation becomes less and less effective at resisting the voltage. Eventually, it just breaks down, and when that happens, the result is an electrical short. Electrical shorts allow lots of electrons to pass very quickly through the degraded insulation.

The situation described above is comparable to what happens with a leaking pipe. Eventually, the pipe will burst and flood your home. With electrical wire, loss of insulation allows the wires will get hot and potentially burn down your home.

The Threat of circuit breaker failure

The circuit breaker acts as a sort of safety valve to prevent wires from overheating and causing damage. But just as wires age, so do circuit breakers themselves. When a circuit breaker gets old, it doesn’t trip prematurely—it just doesn’t trip at all.

The combination of old wires and old circuit breakers produces just the recipe needed for catastrophic failure and an electrical fire. In our hot desert environment in Arizona, you can expect your circuit breaker to have a useful life of about 25 years, after which they it need to be replaced. If you hear your electrical contractor in North Scottsdale, AZ talking about “electrical panel rejuvenation,” this process is what he’s referring to.

In the event that you’re experiencing what you believe to be a tripped circuit breaker, but you aren’t 100 percent sure, you need to enlist the services of a professional electrician. Eavenson Electric Co can provide an accurate safety assessment—we will determine whether your circuit breakers are functioning properly. If there is any problem, we can correct any faulty wiring or failed circuit breakers, thus making your home safer. Call us today to schedule an appointment.

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