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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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June 23, 2016 Flag
0 found this helpful

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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    Answer This QuestionWas this helpful?Helpful? Yes
    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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    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
      0 found this helpful

      I have a breaker box where every third breaker is out. I tripped a breaker just before this happened.

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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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          April 5, 20160 found this helpful

          In addition to Bruce's recommendations, I strongly urge you to not leave the house when the dryer is running until this problem is addressed. Also, please consider keeping a bucket of water and / or fire extinguisher close at hand.

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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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            October 11, 2015 Flag
            0 found this helpful

            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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              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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              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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                  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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                    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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                      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?

                        By Patty P.

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                        March 26, 20150 found this helpful

                        A standard breaker will trip on an overload. This is often a short circuit between hot and ground.

                        The short circuit can be part of your household wiring. But that probably hasn't changed. I have heard of someone hanging a picture by driving a nail in the wall and going through the electrical cable causing a short.

                        I would unplug everything fed by that circuit before attempting a reset.

                        In case you don't know: to reset a breaker first turn it off and then back on.

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                        September 4, 2015 Flag
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                        I bought a house in December of 2014, and as a result of the home inspector finding rust in my electrical breaker box, the seller had the box replaced. When I was having someone install a ceiling fan the other night, we discovered my whole first floor: 5 rooms are connected to one circuit breaker. Can this be legal? I'm concerned about overloaded circuits. I've always seen separate rooms on separate breakers, and I'm thinking whoever did this the circuit breaker box install just connected it as quickly as possible, not safely, and probably not up to code. I'm also thinking that they never labeled the circuit breakers because it would have been obvious how it was wired. The outlets on the first floor are on a separate circuit than the overhead lights if that info helps any. Is this dangerous, illegal, or what? Thanks in advance.

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                          September 7, 20150 found this helpful

                          I don't know if it is illegal or not. It may depend on where you live. Perhaps electrician Bruce will provide some insight. Five rooms on one breaker sounds like a lot, but it does depend on what you've got in those rooms. If it is a very old home, you may only have one outlet and one light in each room, and if they were bedrooms, it is unlikely that would overload a circuit. I had 5 outlets on one circuit in my living room and kitchen, and that blew the breaker all the time, because it was the fridge, microwave oven, coffee maker, toaster, TV and all it's assorted extras, my Roomba, and Christmas tree lights all at the same time, but it was only using the kitchen things that caused the problem. I also saw on TV on one of the home reno shows that the electricians are supposed to label the breakers, and if yours are not labeled, it may indicate that the change was not made by a certified electrician. Or that yours was not very careful. Or maybe the codes are different there. However, all that being said, I think you should call in a journeyperson electrician for a consult. If shortcuts were made with the breaker box, they may also may have been made elsewhere, and you may want to consider some electrical upgrades. Better to be safe than sorry.

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                          February 4, 2015 Flag
                          0 found this helpful

                          I woke up this morning to one entire side of my kitchen not working including the main overhead light and dining area light. The other side has my large items and it appears they are fine. I checked my box and one of the circuits had tripped. I tried to reset it, but it would not.

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