Q:

Why does my circuit breaker keep tripping?

A:

A circuit breaker trips when the current traveling through the circuit exceeds the rating of the breaker, causing it to become warm and spring open. This occurs when too many electrical devices are plugged into a single circuit. Moving some of the devices to other circuits should relieve the problem.

Circuit breakers in the home are often rated for 15 or 20 amperes. With 120-volt service, this means they have a limit of 1800 or 2400 watts, respectively. However, circuits should only run at 80 percent capacity for long periods, so if a circuit is loaded near its maximum, it may cause the breaker to trip.

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Related Questions

  • Q:

    What determines the circuit breaker size?

    A:

    The load a circuit is to carry determines the appropriate size circuit breaker. For safety, the total circuit load should be 80 percent of the breaker's capacity. This allows for factors such as ambient temperature and its effect on the operation of the circuit, according to Electrical Construction & Maintenance.

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  • Q:

    How can you tell if a circuit breaker is bad?

    A:

    A breaker may be bad if a circuit running from the breaker panel box has lost power. A process of elimination can determine if a faulty breaker is the problem. Test to see if the breaker has simply been tripped. Firmly move the switch on the breaker from the on position to the off position and then back again.

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  • Q:

    What is the function of a circuit breaker?

    A:

    The function of a circuit breaker is to cut off electrical power if wiring is overloaded with current. They help prevent fires that can result when wires are overloaded with electricity.

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  • Q:

    What causes a circuit breaker to get hot?

    A:

    Circuit breakers get hot when the current exceeds the rating of the breaker. The electricity that flows through the circuit produces heat in the unit. When that heat reaches a certain point, the breaker trips and breaks the circuit. Warmth indicates that the circuit is at or near capacity.

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