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Troubleshooting Circuit Breaker Problems

A tripped circuit breaker can be a sign of trouble with wiring, and may require a trained professional to get to the root of the problem. This guide is about troubleshooting circuit breaker problems.

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July 2, 2016 Flag
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I have a circuit breaker that tripped last week. The backyard lights and dinning room light run off it and everything was off when it tripped. It would not reset even after pushing it all the way to off. I thought maybe it overheated so I left it off over night, but then the next day it still did not reset.

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I waited until today when I am off work to go to Home Depot to by a new breaker and see if that was the problem. As I was getting ready to leave, I decided to test the breaker again just in case and lo and behold it reset and everything works just fine again. What would cause a breaker to not want to reset for several days?

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    July 12, 20160 found this helpful

    Turns out I had a bad 3 way light in the stairwell. The light for the stairwell has a switch at the bottom, top, and a third one on the wall on the outside of the stairwell. We never used the one on the side until recently but when the switches were all in a certain position and the wall was used, it would trip the breaker. We could not reset unless we repositioned the on/off switches in a different combinations. Once we figuredo it out, we remove the light switch and saw where the insulation had melted away on one of the wires and was making a short. We fixed the wires and the breaker reset just fine. The light switch wold still make a quick buzz when used so we replaced it. Now everything works.

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    June 23, 2016 Flag
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    We live in a 10 year old home. The main breaker in our box has shut down our power two days in a row. We have been able to re-set it and get power back, but we are concerned. Any advice? We haven't been operating anything new in our home, so our usage should be the same as it's always been.

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      June 25, 20160 found this helpful

      Breakers don't just shut off without a reason. Please call an electrician to help you figure out what the problem is. This could be a serious issue that could cause a fire.

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      April 4, 2016 Flag
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      We have been experiencing a "hot" smell whenever we use the clothes dryer. We have cleaned all possible lint and dust from the dryer and the vent to make sure that was not the source. New notice the smell coming from the circuit breaker panel, any thoughts?

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        June 19, 20160 found this helpful

        You should never use water to extinguish an electrical fire. It conducts electricity and you run the chance of being electrocuted by doing so. The fire can be put out using a Class C fire extinguisher or smothered. Then if you are able turn off all power to appliance to keep it from spreading.

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        June 1, 2016 Flag
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        The celing fan with lights, was off one night. While watching TV there were sparks coming from the celing fan housing and then the breaker tripped. I tried to reset the breaker and it will not reset. What could be the problem?

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          June 6, 20160 found this helpful

          It sounds as though your fan motor failed. You will need to replace the unit.

          If you don't use the fan, you could have an electrician unwire the fan and leave the lights connected. They could also verify there is no damage to the lighting circuit while doing this.

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          June 13, 2016 Flag
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          I have a breaker box where every third breaker is out. I tripped a breaker just before this happened.

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            February 13, 2016 Flag
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            I plugged a small space heater into an outlet in my bedroom. I then showered, dressed, returned to the bathroom, plugged in my hair dryer, and lost all power in bedroom/bathroom/hall. I flipped all the switches in the circuit breaker panel, but that failed. Help!

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              February 15, 20160 found this helpful

              It sounds as though the circuit was overloaded, so resetting the breaker is correct.

              To reset a breaker, first shut off then turn on. Most breakers have a red flag in a window to signify they are tripped. This , I assume is what you already did.

              Breakers, on an overload, will trip due to heat (kind of like the thermal overload that will prevent your hair dryer from running when it overheats), and may need to cool down before they can be reset. So you could try resetting again now without the hair dryer and heater plugged in. (the more things you can unplug or switch off of the dead circuit, the better)

              If that doesn't do it, look for an AFCI or GFCI receptacle that may have tripped and reset it.

              If that still doesn't do it, then an electrician would be needed to determine if the breaker is bad, the wiring has problems or a receptacle is bad.

              Good Luck.

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              February 2, 2005 Flag
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              I recently purchased a house, and it is clear that the previous owner had not always done things correctly. My present concern is that there seems to be 14 gauge wire running off a 20 AMP breaker. I believe this is a code violation, and more importantly a fire risk. I would rather not open up the walls to replace the wire. Assuming the circuit would be OK on a 15, can I just have the breaker replaced? Is that an adequate solution?

              Thanks,

              Concerned

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              February 2, 20050 found this helpful
              Best Answer

              Yes, that is a code violation and a fire risk.

              And it invalidates the insurance.

              To fix the problem,

              1) get a breaker from the same brand and series but with a 15 Amp rating

              2) turn the 20 Amp breaker off and pull it out.

              3) swap the wire, that goes to it, over to the 15 Amp breaker

              4) Make sure the 15 Amp breaker is turned OFF

              5) insert the 15 Amp breaker

              6) make sure the 15 Amp breaker is inserted fully and looks level with the other breakers

              7) turn the 15 Amp breaker on and test the appliances or outlets that are fed from it.

              If you forget point 4), there will be scary sounding arcing and sparking that could startle you into falling off your ladder or chair.

              Have FUN!

              DearWebby

              http://www.webby.com/humor/

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              October 11, 2015 Flag
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              I have a 42 in. plasma, a lamp, another smaller TV, a DVD, and a Dish box connected to brand new surge protector. I went to turn my TV on and everything connected to that surge protector went out. Do you think maybe it had a sudden surge and it tripped the protector or is it the breaker box?

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                October 19, 20150 found this helpful

                Surge strips often have breakers that trip. A button will pop out that needs to be pushed in to reset.

                Electrical loads often have an inrush current many times the steady state load. It is possible that your television may pull 3 or 4 amps ordinarily and 20 to 30 amps for a very short period of time starting up. This inrush current combined with the other loads could trip the breaker on the strip.

                One solution is to turn the tv on first.

                Another solution is to replace the power strip.

                Make sure the surge strip does not plug into a surge protected outlet. You do not want to double up surge protection.

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                January 15, 2016 Flag
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                I was charging my mobile phone in my kids' room. I woke up with a spark and fire. Now the television, fan, and modem, even all the outlets in the room are not working. I am glad nothing happen to my kids they are still asleep. Unfortunately I can't use the television or any electronics. What can I do?

                Breaker Not Working
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                  January 18, 20160 found this helpful

                  I cannot tell from the picture, but I am assuming that is your phone charger. It appears as though it failed. When it failed, it probably shorted the circuit and tripped a breaker (or blew a fuse) in your panel. This can be reset (turn breaker off and on) or replaced (in the case of a fuse).

                  You had an electrical fire, I would call an electrician to verify no damage has occurred to your household wiring or receptacle before resetting the breaker (or replacing the fuse).

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                  December 23, 2015 Flag
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                  We have a GE wall oven/microwave combo unit, Model JT965SK4SS 2007 model. We had new cabinets put in. The installers put the unit back in the wall. Now it turns on, but after a while the oven cuts off and throws the breaker off. The top microwave works fine. The repair man says it may be sensor and wants to charge $300 for a sensor. They are $14.73 for the part. But is it the sensor or a wiring problem or a bad circuit? We have outlets in two bathrooms on the other side of our house that don't work, but not sure if this all happened at the same time or not.

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                    December 30, 20150 found this helpful

                    Why don't you call in an electrician to check out the wiring. He can fix the bathroom outlets at least, and can let you know if this is a problem with the wiring or with your oven. If it turns out it is the oven, then you can decide what to do about that.

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                    July 21, 2015 Flag
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                    I just replaced a fuse box with circuit breakers. Now my stove is not getting hot. It just gets warm. They just put a 40 amp breaker in and it is still not hot.

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                      July 27, 20150 found this helpful

                      Verify that you are connected to a two pole breaker (240 VAC) not single pole (120 VAC) and that your stove requires 240 VAC (most stoves do). The two pole breakers take up two spots in your panel.

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                      December 15, 2015 Flag
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                      A room is receiving power to its outlets, but the ceiling fan is not working in that same room. Suggestion? At the same time this issue began to occur, all the power to the master bedroom went out and the breaker to the master bedroom will also not reset. Any suggestions to these problems?

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                        December 16, 20150 found this helpful

                        It is probable that the ceiling fan is on the same circuit as the master bedroom if they all lost power at the same time when the breaker tripped.

                        It is possible that it is a bad breaker. If so an electrician could change it.

                        Were any changes being made to the house when the power went out. Drive any nails into the wall? Plug in any new load?

                        Unplug all cord and plug devices in the master bedroom and see if the breaker resets.

                        Is this a standard breaker or AFCI? AFCI breakers have trouble with certain types of humidifers.

                        If problem persists, call an electrician. They can meter the circuit to determine if the breaker should be tripping and if so where the fault is that is causing the issue.

                        Good luck.

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                        June 4, 2015 Flag
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                        When I run my two window units at the same time why does the breaker arc/spark? It rarely trips the breaker.

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                          June 8, 20150 found this helpful

                          Excellent advice Helmut!

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                          April 19, 2015 Flag
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                          I have tried every breaker in the box, but cannot turn off the stove top unit. Help!

                          By Rdm

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                          April 20, 20150 found this helpful

                          Bruce is right. My feeling is that a stove top is an 80's appliance. When I had mine, it was wired directly to a box under the house. Yes, get it fixed and quick. Hope these both helped.

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                          March 21, 2015 Flag
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                          What would it be if you turned off your main breaker, then turned it back on and there was one breaker to a bedroom that was tripped and could not be turned back on?

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