Tips On Fixing A Blown Circuit Breaker In Your Home

Depending on the age of the home you live in, the number of electrical appliances you run, and the last time the wiring was updated, you could have lots of blown fuses. The older homes, from decades ago, actually had small fuses that either screwed in or popped into the electrical panel. Those have largely been replaced with circuit breakers that can be reset many times before wearing out. There are some important things you need to take care of first though, here's a short guide.
Fuses Rarely Just Blow On Their Own It does happen, especially if a circuit breaker has gotten old and has been flipped on, off, or blown many times. Their contacts can become worn, burnt, or other parts just wear out. Circuit breakers aren't really supposed to be flipped on and off like normal switches, and doing that can cause early failure. It's not a huge problem though, just something that you should be aware of. When a fuse blows there are some things that you should check first before resetting the breaker. Knowing that there's a reason why fuses blow, you should take the time to see what appliances are now off because of the blown fuse. Some electrical devices, especially those that generate heat like a heater, cooking appliances, or even air conditioners, use a lot of power. Check to see if you have more than one of those on the same circuit. You'll be able to tell by what's not running since the blown fuse. If you find that you have several large appliances on the same circuit, that's probably why it blew. If not, keep searching a bit to see what the real problem is. Just resetting the breaker is not a good idea without knowing the real cause of the failure. Fuses blow to protect your wiring from overheating and causing an electrical fire, so it's important. Check Your Circuit Breakers To See Which One Is Blown You should take a flashlight with you if needed and open the electrical panel and look inside. You'll see rows of what look like switches and one of them will look like it's half-way turned off. That is the one that is blown. Look on the lable which should be next to each switch, to see what the main appliance or area of the home that is running through that breaker. If that doesn't give you a good hint as to what's running on that circuit, you'll have to turn it back on to investigate further. Flip the breaker switch all the way off and then all the way back on again and then wait a few seconds to see that it seems OK and doesn't immediately flip back off. If it does, don't force it, check to see what's shorting it out. If not, go back up into the house and see what's running now that wasn't before. You most likely have too many high wattage appliances connected into the same circuit. Try moving one of the appliances to another circuit. Or, many times, it's a mobile appliance like a vacuum cleaner combined with a stationary appliance like a heater and just moving one of them will solve your problem. Sometimes The Circuit Breaker Is Just Bad They do wear out and you may have a bad one. They usually aren't very expensive as long as you have a common brand. You can write down the name of your fuse box, like Square D, and then call the local hardware or home improvement store to get an idea of how much they cost. Sometimes they're very easy to replace, about 5 minutes, and sometimes more difficult. However, if you don't know what you're doing, you should call a professional and get help. At least if you head down to the store and buy a replacement you'll know how much that part is going to cost. Paying for an electrician will be a lot more, but it's better to pay a little money, have it done right, and not get electrocuted trying to save a dollar.

How To Tell If A Circuit Breaker Is Bad

Sometimes when you're dealing with an electrical problem in your home, the easiest solution isn't always the right one. When you have a circuit breaker that is constantly flipping off, you might think that it's because it's defective. But the real cause could be that it's overloaded instead. Here is how to troubleshoot that circuit to pinpoint the problem.
Start By Figuring Out What's On It Flip off that circuit breaker and then go see which wall sockets or appliances are no longer working. If there are two or more heavy users of current on the same circuit that is most likely the cause. That would be something like your air conditioner, a space heater, vacuum cleaner, cooking appliance, or other obvious power user appliance. Most circuits will only be able to handle one of these types of appliances running at a time. The object of having a circuit breaker is to avoid burning up your house wiring or causing a house fire, so don't keep flipping the breaker, move one appliance to another circuit and see if the problem is resolved. Some Circuit Breakers Are Just Bad Lots of people don't realize it but circuit breakers weren't made to be flipped on and off like light switches. They wear out fast that way since they were made as circuit protection devices to protect you and your home from the danger of overloaded wires. If you find that the breaker in question easily flips back and forth with no clear "ON" or "OFF" position, it's bad and needs to be replaced. However, if it flips on and stays there for a few seconds before flipping off again, there maybe a short in your wiring and it's doing its job. That's why you need to check the appliances carefully before replacing a circuit breaker. How Do You Find The Right Breaker Breakers, in most situations, aren't very expensive and can be found at the local hardware store. First, look on your electrical panel and see what brand it is, then check the breaker to see how many amps it's supposed to carry. There are also double pole and single pole, double is when there are two breakers connected and they usually only are running one large appliance like a water heater. Next, go online to several of the large online retailers or home improvement stores and find the right breaker, same amperage, same number of poles, and identical brand. You'll note that a regular breaker of average amperage and single pole will usually sell for around $5 or so. Anything odd, double pole, high amperage, strange brand, and the price immediately rises. But still, $40 is an average high price when looking online. If you know what you're doing, changing a circuit breaker on your own with an identical one is very easy. You flip off the whole house voltage, usually the large double pole breaker marked "MAIN" and then remove the inside cover of the breaker panel. The old breaker usually pivots on one end on a connection bar and unplugs on the other end, with one thick wire attached. All you have to do is unplug it, remove the wire, hook that wire onto the new breaker, and plug it back in. It's a five minute job for an experienced electrician. If you don't have experience with electricity, you should probably hire a qualified electrician rather than electrocute yourself. There are online videos showing just how to do this, but you should play it safe if you're unsure.