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What is Tripping My Circuit Breaker?

As seasons change, different parts of your electrical systems may see heavier workloads. With summer looming, homeowners may find they are making frequent trips to their basements to switch on tripped or flipped breakers. Generally, tripped breakers are caused by either overloaded circuits, shorts in wiring, or grounded wires.

1) Overloaded Circuits

Most of us have experienced the inconvenience of overloaded circuits. The microwave, toaster, and television are all working fine until someone begins blow drying their hair and everything goes dark. When this occurs, simply flip the breaker switch, and move the microwave or the blow dryer to a different circuit.

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However, with the change of seasons, you may have noticed the breaker trips whenever the air conditioning engages. This could indicate a more serious issue:

  • Faulty wiring associated with the HVAC unit.
  • Improper installation or wiring.
  • Your HVAC system is too large or too small.
  • Other issues associated with your home’s wiring.

The best practice is not to allow these issues to linger into summer. If your breakers are regularly tripped, it could be indicative of a short in your home’s wiring.

2) Short in Wiring

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When a “hot wire” touches another hot or neutral wire, this is called a short. If you suspect you have a shorted wire, examine the outlets associated with the tripped breaker. You may notice a burning smell or blackened outlet covers (though likely not as pronounced as the image above depicts). If this is the case, contact a professional, licensed electrician as soon as possible.

 3) Ground Fault/Grounded Wire

Similar to a short, a grounded wire is a hot ground wire that touches either its copper encasing or a metal box to which it’s attached. As the temperatures heat up, HVAC units are likely culprits for ground faults, tripping breakers more often as their use becomes more frequent.

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Electrical systems should be repaired immediately. If your home has shorts or grounded wires, it is at risk for fire. Furthermore, costs will only increase as repairs are delayed. If you suspect your system is experiencing one of these issues, contact a professional, licensed electrician as soon as possible.