Why is My Power Tripping all the Time?
Updated: May 6, 2022
Constant power tripping should never be ignored.
Power that trips all the time is annoying. It means having to reset the circuit breaker every time it trips. While some people may think that this is just their breaker acting up, it is crucial to get to the bottom of the problem. Figuring out the cause of these frequent power trips could save you from fixing the entire circuit, or worse, a major disaster that could cost lives.
Why Does the Power Keep Tripping?
If the power trips frequently, it’s usually a sign that something is wrong with the circuit. Identifying the cause will help decide the course of action that needs to be taken. Here are some of the main reasons why the circuit breaker trips all the time.
1. Overloaded Circuit
A circuit overload occurs when a particular circuit exceeds its capacity for electricity. This could overheat the circuit and put all the electrical appliances connected to it at risk.
For example, a TV set requiring 15 amperes is connected to a circuit with a load of 20 amperes already. The circuit breaker trips to prevent the TV set’s circuit from getting fried or damaged, and to prevent a potential fire.
It does not need to be a large appliance for the circuit breaker to trip. Even something as small as a hairdryer can trip the circuit breaker if it is close to maximum capacity. Circuit overloading often happens around winter, when air conditioners and seasonal items such as Christmas lights are plugged at the same time.
Distributing electrical devices to different circuits will prevent overloading from occurring. An ASP Level 2 electrician will be able to recommend which electrical appliances to keep off of one circuit, be sure to consult one for your peace of mind.
2. Short Circuits
A short circuit is another common reason why power keeps tripping. It is more dangerous than a circuit overload because it has a higher chance of causing a fire if not caught in time.
A short circuit occurs when a hot wire touches a neutral wire in an electrical outlet. When this happens, the current surges through the circuit creating more heat than the circuit is designed for, thus tripping the circuit breaker and shutting the power off.
A burnt smell around the breaker usually signifies a short circuit. There may also be a black or brown discolouration around it.
Short circuits could be due to various reasons, including a loose connection and faulty wiring. It poses a huge risk to any home or establishment, so being able to call an electrician even after hours is vital.
3. Ground Fault
Like a short circuit, a ground fault surge occurs when a hot wire connects with a bare copper ground wire or the side of a metal outlet box that is attached to the ground wire. This will cause a large amount of electricity to pass through which the circuit cannot handle. The breaker trips, thus shutting the power off to prevent the appliances from overheating and causing potential fires.
Ground fault surges can be identified through a discolouration around the power outlet. It is therefore best to have a licenced electrician look and assess any damage that the ground fault surge has caused and prevent it from causing a major disaster.
4. Defective Circuit Breaker
If a short circuit, an overloaded circuit, or a ground fault surge is not causing your power to trip, it may be the circuit breaker’s fault. A circuit breaker is bound to wear out over time, especially if it is not maintained. Some signs that the breaker needs to be replaced are frequent tripping, a burnt smell, scorch marks, and an inability to reset.
5. Arc Fault
A power outlet producing a buzzing sound or light switches hissing are signs of an arc fault. Considered to be a major reason circuit breakers keep tripping, an arc fault occurs when corroded or loose wires create a short contact that causes a spark or an arc. Unfortunately, this can start an electrical fire.
6. Defective Electrical Appliances
Extensive use is bound to wear electrical appliances out. The older they become, the more they tend to stop functioning normally, causing them to trip the breaker. Unplugging and re-plugging the appliances one by one is the simplest way to test which of these appliances are pushing the power to trip.
How to Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker
A tripped circuit breaker can be reset by moving the handle or switch to the OFF position before turning it back on. Be sure to stand back or stand a little bit to the side to avoid sparks from the breaker. Also, consider wearing safety goggles to protect your eyes from getting hurt.
Don’t Ignore a Circuit Breaker That Trips Frequently.
There is nothing more vexing than a circuit breaker that keeps tripping. But more than being bothersome, it poses a serious problem that should not be ignored. If your power is tripping all the time, it could mean one of your circuits keeps getting overloaded. So, have an experienced electrician test your circuits and electrical appliances as soon as possible.
Should You Fix a Frequently Tripping Circuit Breaker?
There are electrical works that can be done even by a DIY-er. They include changing a fuse or blown light bulbs, changing the battery of smoke detectors, and replacing a drive belt in a washing machine.
Unfortunately, fixing a circuit breaker that keeps tripping is not among them. Having a licenced electrician fix major electrical problems will prevent injuries, electrical fires, and damage to your property. This will also ensure that insurance policies and product warranties are not voided.
Contact Real Electrical Solutions for Exceptional Electrical Services in New South Wales
Real Electrical Solutions provides a variety of residential and commercial electrical services to hundreds of clients in Newcastle, Maitland, Central Coast and the Hunter Region. Our services include after-hours emergency work, switchboard upgrades, overhead/underground connections, private pole installations, solar metering, and more. Call us at 0403 306 842 today or send your enquiries to email@example.com.