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Circuit Breaker Troubleshooting for Beginners

Although every home has a circuit breaker, not every homeowner knows what to do when theirs stop working. That’s why we put together this circuit breaker troubleshooting guide, which covers the most common problems and what to do about them.

4 of the Most Common Reasons for Circuit Breaker Troubleshooting

We’ll begin our circuit breaker troubleshooting guide by quickly looking at the four most common reasons you may need this, to begin with.

1. Flickering Lights

When you turn on a certain appliance or flip a switch, do the lights in the room flicker? This is often because of faulty wiring.

2. Circuit Overload

If your circuit breaker keeps tripping, the culprit is probably an overloaded circuit. You can try to reset the breaker, but this probably won’t work as it does nothing to lower the load placed on the circuit.

3. Humming Sound from the Breaker

When a circuit breaker is overloaded, it may begin humming, even though its performance doesn’t change. This probably means the breaker needs to be replaced and the problem can even escalate to the point that the device begins letting off sparks.

4. Malfunctions

Sometimes, your breaker may trip continuously or you may even get shocked when using a certain appliance. Again, your breaker probably needs to be replaced as this is an extremely dangerous problem.

4 Steps to Take if You’re Having Breaker Problems

In this part of our circuit breaker troubleshooting guide, we’ll look at four easy steps you can take to address these common problems.

1. Reset Your Circuit Breaker

This is always the easiest step you can take. Unless your breaker is humming or sparking, try resetting it. Just turn the switch off before moving it back on. If your breaker was overloaded or short-circuited, it’s probably already off.

2. Check Your Appliances

Another really simple reason for what appears to be problems with your circuit breaker is actually an issue with one of your appliances.

All it takes is a damaged cord to cause a short in your appliance which could in turn trip your circuit breaker. Check for damage to the cord or signs that it has been burned.

3. Check the Load

Another issue involving appliances could just be that you’re using too many. All you need to do is take a look at the label on each appliance to see how much power they require and, if the total amount is too much, move one of the devices to another circuit.

4. Check for Loose Wires

As we mentioned above, if your lights flicker constantly or even just a little when you first turn them on, you’re probably dealing with faulty wires. You should be able to unscrew the panels over your light switches to see if this is the case. Turn off the power to those switches before trying to address the wires.

When Circuit Breaker Troubleshooting Doesn’t Work

Although we hope this circuit breaker troubleshooting guide works, if you find it hasn’t, the problem could be something more significant than the options mentioned above.

In that case, it’s important that you call an electrician ASAP. You want to avoid doing further damage to your breaker or risking injury. Fortunately, you’ll find that even when an electrician is necessary, the problem is usually a minor one.