What To Do When A Circuit Breaker Trips

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If a circuit breaker in your switchboard trips it can mean anything from one appliance going down to a whole section of the house being left in the dark. It pays to know how to reset one that’s fizzled out so you can get your day or night back on track, without having to call out the electrical services company. Here are a few things to remember when your circuit breaker trips:

Keep an emergency torch (and remember where this is)

If the circuit breaker trips and it’s night then you’re in the dark. Use the flashlight function on your phone to find your way around the house. It’s also a good idea to have a torch on hand for situations like these, or at least matches and a candle. Even if you know where your electrical box is and feel confident you could do it with your eyes closed; it’s just not a good idea to go feeling around inside electrical boxes without a proper light source.

3 steps to follow when a circuit breaker trips

  1. Turn appliances off

    Always turn off appliances that are connected to the affected circuit. Your circuit breaker tripped for a reason. Having all of your appliances on can do that. If this was the case when the breaker tripped, make sure you go around and switch off and unplug everything that’s connected to the circuit, otherwise it will be immediately loaded with power and may cause the issue to occur again.

  2. Master switch

    Once at the power board, turn off the master switch. Make sure you do this before doing anything else! This is going to cut all the power to the circuits, so if there is a fault it cant hurt you while you are in the switchboard.

  3. Safety switch

    Make sure you always have a RCD safety switch installed and tested regularly. These are essential for houses to ensure that everyone in the house is protected from getting a zap! These will also be triggered if, while making the Christmas pavlova, the mix master burns out. If that is the case unplug all of the appliances, see if they’ll work in another area of the house. If one of these appliances doesn’t work at all, it’s likely that this was the cause of the tripped circuit breaker. Don’t plug this appliance back in. See if you can replace it or have it fixed.

Ready to go again

Turn on the master switch. After all this fuss you almost expect a sort of powering-up noise to signal that you’ve done it. No such luck. Go back to your appliances and turn them all back on.

What causes circuit overloads?

One of the most common problems of tripping a circuit breaker is what we call “overloading the circuit”. Too much extra power consumption on one circuit could cause the breaker to trip.

This may seem like an inconvenience, but it’s actually a nice reminder that your circuit breaker is working. Using both thermal and magnetic tripping mechanisms, modern circuit breakers will cause a power outage, rather than allowing a circuit to overwork, catch fire, and burn your house down. Electrical circuits have a limit to how much electricity they can provide, so it’s also a reminder to consider the amount of appliances you’re powering.

Common causes include an extravagant nativity scene on your house during Christmas, excessive powering of air conditioning and fans during a heat wave, or overloading a circuit with too many electrical devices.

If you notice your lights are dimming, buzzing, your outlets are warm or your appliances are lacking power then you can catch a trip before it happens.

There are a few ways you can prevent a circuit overload:

  • Have an electrician rewire old circuits with new ones that can meet a higher electrical demand (you can get in touch with a master electrician here).
  • Avoid connecting too many devices to the one circuit.
  • Instead, share the load across different circuits.

Back to life as normal again

Now go back to whatever it was you were doing before you were so rudely interrupted. Resetting a circuit breaker isn’t rocket science, and certainly doesn’t require an electrician. It’s a matter of preparation and keeping calm. If you’re uncertain of what the problem is after trying the above, or if you want a professional to look at it, just give us a call on 1800 752 846, we are always here to help. Plus we have on call electricians over the Christmas break, so even if it happens on Christmas morning we can have someone there.