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Troubleshooting Why a Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

Determining the cause of the overload of the electrical circuit is essential. This guide is about troubleshooting why a circuit breaker keeps tripping.
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March 3, 2016 Flag

human hand flipping the switch on the circuit breaker.

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This is a guide about dishwasher tripping a circuit breaker. It is frustrating when trying to run your dishwasher repeatedly trips the breaker. Troubleshooting the cause can be daunting.

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December 31, 2016 Flag

Two months ago, we had power outlets that were having issues getting plugs to stick, so my dad had us replace all of the outlets in the room, including mine, but my plugs were all working fine before yet he wanted them all replaced anyway.

At one point, we were having to fiddle with one of the outlets' wirings in the living room because we couldn't get it to work without shorting out two of our other rooms. So they eventually got it to work, but then, except for my fan, I've had no power in my room for two months. So I just didn't bother with replacing my outlets.

Only now has my dad stepped in to replace the perfectly fine outlets in favor of these newer ones, saying this'll bring back power into my room. I don't know how, he just said it would fix it. So then I test it and it runs hot. All of the outlets are receiving power and yet I plug my lamp in them and I'm still not able to get it to turn on.

I am getting outright annoyed with this. What did we do to get the outlets to stop working?

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January 1, 20170 found this helpful

Not sure what kind of plug your cord has but try to reverse the polarity.

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December 31, 2016 Flag

One of my breakers at the box is tripping at night. I only have an electrical heater on with an auto temp setting. I have had it on nightly before without issues. I live in 1976 mobile home. Could it be rodents or moisture? What should I do? Thank you.

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January 20, 20170 found this helpful

Hopefully this problem has been corrected and you are now able to use your heater.

Many times we think that we only have one item on but other things on the same line can be coming on at the same time and takes more power than is available.

It is very dangerous to continue using an appliance, especially a heater, if the breaker keeps tripping.

Since this is an older mobile home it is possible that wiring needs replacing in some areas due to exposure, rodents, other animals (seeking shelter under your home). This is especially true if the skirting needs repairing or replacing.

Do you own or are you renting?

If you are renting then this is something you should talk to your landlord about as it is definitely a fire hazard and should be fixed ASAP.

There is probably no insurance on a mobile home of this age so a fire could cause you to lose your possessions but more importantly, it could cause an injury as these older homes are many times called fire traps due to the way they were made.

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January 21, 2011 Flag

My circuit beaker keeps tripping on my dishwasher, garbage disposal, and light above sink. I changed the breaker and light switches and it still won't turn on help?

By Ann from Greenville, SC

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February 9, 20111 found this helpful
Best Answer

You should really buy a continuity tester.Just a starting point.

1. Make sure power is off at each item with a volt meter before working on them.

2. Disconnect each appliance completely from the circuit.

3. Then check first for continuity from the black wire to the green wire/frame of the appliance. If you have continuity to ground from the black of an appliance that's your puppy.

If you don't no how to use a tester, I would say this job is not for you and you should call a pro.

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January 2, 2011 Flag

We have a 15 amp breaker that keeps tripping. This is something that just started happening. This is what feeds off that breaker: livingroom lights, 2 TVs, kitchen lights, fridge, washer, dryer, master bedroom, guest bathroom, laundryroom lights, all porch lights, and a new gas heater with an electronic ignition and fan. This is a 1977 doublewide mobile home. What could suddenly cause this to happen and is it dangerous?

By Kim from Silver Springs, NV

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Anonymous Flag
January 6, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

You bet your bippy that's dangerous! Unplug everything and get an electrician out there today to help you sort out what is overloading that particular breaker. My guess is that whomever installed the new gas heater didn't 'add' a new breaker for it exclusively.

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November 28, 2016 Flag

I have two leads coming from the wall, two white and two black. I have joined the whites and blacks together. I connected a new fixture by connecting the one black wire and the one white wire to the supply in wires. When I turn on breaker the light comes on in the "off" position. When I move the switch to "on" position the breaker pops.

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March 4, 20170 found this helpful

We need a bit more info. How many amps is the breaker? How many outlets and switches are on that same circuit and in use? How much is the fixture drawing (1 light bulb or 6?) You could be overloading that circuit. You only have 2 wires coming from the wall? Is this old wiring? Modern wiring in the US has 4 colors-are you elsewhere? You have your ground which is green (easy to remember-ground-green grass), white, which is your neutral, and your hot or live wires which are of the following colors black, blue, red, orange, yellow or brown, depending on the voltage that the line is carryring. (120 or 240...) If you are in the US and only have 2 wires from the wall, that is a problem.

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May 19, 2011 Flag

I just moved into a brand new apartment, we are the first tenants to live here. In my bedroom I have a 47 inch TV, Xbox, surround sound system, alarm clock, cable box, laptop, desktop computer, and monitor (for the desktop), a total of 8 things plugged in.

My 20 amp breaker would pop all the time, so I unplugged everything except my Xbox, cable box, TV, and my surround sound. It still tripped the breaker. So I thought it might be the surge protector I have so I got another one and it still tripped. Now I have used two surge protectors and two separate outlets and it still trips all the time.

I currently have only three things plugged into two different surge protectors on two different outlets and it pops a lot less often, but I shouldn't have to do this. The breaker should easily be able to handle everything. I had an electrician come and check it out and they said everything was fine and it was probably something I had plugged in, but with my Xbox, TV, and surround it doesn't trip. If I add anything else no matter what, alarm clock, laptop charger, anything it trips. It's really getting old. Any suggestions? The breaker only runs the outlets, nothing else, no lights or anything.

By Tyler H.

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May 21, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

In order to decide how big of an electrical service is needed in your home, one has to do a little math homework. Calculating how much power both you and your electrical appliances use is necessary to calculate this number. I'm often asked how to figure this load. It really is pretty simple if you know what to look for and how to add up the loads.

Answer:

The first thing to know is that circuits should only be loaded at 80% of the total circuit load. To help you understand the concept, if you have a 15-amp circuit, the safe operating amperage would be no greater than 12 amps. The total wattage would be 1,800 watts, meaning the safe wattage usage would be 1,440 watts.

If you have a 20-amp circuit, the safe operating amperage would be no greater than 16 amps. The total wattage would be 2,400 watts, meaning the safe wattage usage would be 1,920 watts.

On a 30-amp circuit, the safe operating amperage would be no greater than 24 amps. The total wattage would be 3,600 watts, meaning the safe wattage usage would be 2,880 watts.

To determine the wattage, you take the voltage times the amperage. Check the tags on all of your appliances for the required amperage rating. Add all of the lighting load by adding the total wattage of the light bulbs in your home. Look at the light bulbs and read the wattage that is printed on them.

Your home will likely also have 240-volt appliances like water heaters, air conditioners, electric dryers and electric ranges. These too will have an amperage rating label and the wattage can be calculated. The voltage, 240 volts, times the amperage, say 30 amps, will equal the wattage requirements.

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October 16, 2016 Flag

A breaker tripped every time it was reset. I searched everything on the circuit, but couldn't find any reason for it to trip. I took the wire off of the breaker and later found the disconnected wire still has full power. What should I look for?

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October 17, 20160 found this helpful

It is possible that an amateur tried to install a 3-way switch to a light by using two single pole switches on two different circuits. This would work until both switches were turned on resulting in a hazardous dead short.

Have an electrician check the wire for power with all your light switches off. If it goes away, he/she can then turn on each switch until it comes back and identify the problem.

If the breaker works in tandem to supply load to a 240 volt device such as a stove or dryer, it is possible that the load device has failed in a short causing your breaker to trip.

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July 29, 2016 Flag

I live in an RV that has a double pole 15 amp breaker that's tripping. The load is 8 plugs and 2 110 volt AC window units. The breaker box is full, so can I install another breaker box and split up the load?

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August 12, 20160 found this helpful

Another box would probably require another feed, maybe another generator or power source.

The breakers is protecting the wire within the walls. It does not allow more current to flow through them than what they are rated for. This is to prevent overheating.

volts times amps equals watts. 240 volts times 15 amps equals 3600 watts. This is where your breaker will start tripping. If each A/C unit is less than 2880 watts (12 amps) (80%) then they can be run individually but not together.

An electrician is always your best bet.

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June 28, 2012 Flag

My breaker keeps tripping. My air conditioner is on a 15 amp circuit and it goes out every 6-19 minutes, and then I will have to reset. It also takes out the living room, kitchen, and bathroom lights. This is in a one bedroom apartment. I have unplugged everything in the bedroom, bathroom, and kitchen except for the fridge, but it still goes out. What to do?

By Tameka

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June 29, 20120 found this helpful
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Actually contact your apartment manager and he should have maintenance check it out for you. Unless you own the apartment, instead of renting it is his responsibility.

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April 19, 2015 Flag

We have a circuit breaker that all of a sudden keeps tripping. The breaker box goes directly to the power pole and the only thing on the problem circuit breaker is the pump for our well. We've had this pump on this breaker for 15 years and just started having a problem in the last few days. We already tried replacing the circuit breaker. We replaced it with a 15 amp breaker because that's what was in there before. That did nothing. Can anyone help please?

By Tim A

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April 20, 20150 found this helpful
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The breaker is tripping from overcurrent. If it trips immediately, it is most likely a short to ground. It could also be a locked rotor on your pump.

If it takes time to trip, it is an overcurrent, and for some reason the pump is working harder than it used to. Maybe buildup within the pump or bearing failure.

Look for physical damage of the cable feeding the pump from the breaker.

If none is found, have an electrician megger the leads to the motor to see if you have a short to ground.

If you do not, you may need to have someone pull the pump and have the motor tested and/or replaced. If it has been the same pump for 15 years, it may be at the end of its life.

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June 14, 2011 Flag

I have girls and they keep tripping the 20 amp breaker. I made sure there is 12 gauge wire and there are only two receptacles on this circuit. But when the girls plug in both hair dryers and curling irons it blows the breaker. Will I have to run a dedicated line for each receptacle?

By Troy

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June 23, 20110 found this helpful
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A hairdryer is nominally rated 1500watts; according to the NEC, the breaker has to be rated at least 80% greater than the load. Hence, 1500w divided by 120vac = 12.5 amps x 125% = 15.63 Amps (minimum rating for the circuit breaker) Now if you have TWO hairdryers (12.5A x 2 = 25 Amps) on the one 20A circuit breaker, you'll trip every time. If you don't, then you really have problems.

You could run #10 Romex and change out to a 30A circuit breaker but that will put the breaker at maximum capacity. It may make more sense to leave the #12awg, change the circuit breaker to a 25amp rating and run an identical separate circuit of the same. Otherwise you will keep having issues.

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June 23, 2016 Flag

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 24, 20160 found this helpful

To be safe, call an electrician. This could potentially be a serious problem.

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January 31, 2014 Flag

I live in a three bedroom deluxe seven room plus basement altogether. So I just got my circuit breaker replaced because it was going out. The workers put in new one.

I keep small heaters on, but now that it's been replaced I can't use the microwave or my room, kid's room, parts of my mom's room, part dinning room, kitchen, and basement goes out. The guy who fixed it put it on 15amp. Should it be all on one like that?

By LW from Kansas City, MO

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February 1, 20140 found this helpful
Best Answer

No, it should not. It might be a good idea to figure out what is all on that breaker. From my experience, a microwave takes a lot of power. Perhaps, in the short term, you can plug that microwave into a different outlet that is not on this circuit. I have too many outlets on one breaker, and I am going to have the electrician come in and add more circuits (put in more breakers). This may be what you need to do.

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June 3, 2011 Flag

We have a 3 bedroom house and my son's family started living with us. Before this we were only using 1 bedroom. Now there is a 110 volt window unit in every room, AT&T U-verse TV in every room, plus naturally the lights. The breaker started tripping (15 amp) so we bought a new one. The new one is tripping now. Help! What to do? Can we go up to a 20 amp breaker?

By Carol

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June 3, 20110 found this helpful
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Do not put in a 20 amp breaker. Breakers are sized to protect the size of wire in a circuit. In general 15 amp breakers are used to protect 14 gauge wire, 20 amp 12 gauge. You most likely have 14 gauge wire and over sizing the breaker is dangerous and can lead to short circuits and fire. The answer is to use fewer appliances, especially a/c units or have more circuits put in, maybe even a dedicated line for each a/c unit.

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November 24, 2011 Flag

I live in senior housing, 55 and older. I have an assigned post for my vehicle. When I plug it in the breaker trips. So I move to another plugin and that works for a couple days, then when I plug in again it pops the breaker again. Maintenance keeps telling me it's my car, but if I go to a friend's and plug in there are no problems. I just have problems at the senior housing. Why does this happen?

By Marilyn

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November 28, 20110 found this helpful
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Your car shouldn't be tripping the breaker at your home if it's not tripping the breakers elsewhere. Do any of your neighbours have the same problem?

The maintenance guy could be dangerously wrong; I say dangerously because the electrical problem needs to be looked at and resolved before it causes a fire.

The draw from your car (and anyone else') is overloading a circuit not up to the work of recharging your vehicle. But if you are plugging into a circuit that is assigned to the purpose of recharging your vehicle, the complex is responsible for maintaining that outlet in a safe and satisfactory condition to accomplish the recharging. For the maintenance guy to say it's your vehicle sounds as though he doesn't want to be bothered.

You should check your agreement to see if you have any recourse to the services of a licensed electrician to check the electrical system you are plugging into, and to whom you can lodge a request for further investigation of the electrical system. Be sure that your vehicle is checked by the dealer or a licensed mechanic certified to work on your model to be sure it really isn't your car, first:)

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August 25, 2011 Flag

I just moved into a 1950s house. All the electric seemed to be working fine until carpet was installed yesterday. The circuit breaker flipped and flips again immediately after each attempt to turn it back on. There is no power being drawn on the circuit. It is only feeding overhead lights and outlets with nothing plugged in.

By Susan

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August 26, 20110 found this helpful
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If this started after carpet was installed, I'd say somewhere a wire got nicked. It is time to have an electrician come check it out. I am speaking as a fire fighter here, who has heard similar stories that later resulted in a fire

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July 26, 2011 Flag

I have an outside vapor light my husband installed on one end of our barn. The light is on a separate breaker with just the light and a plug on it. I have noticed the past few nights after it has been on about 6 hours the light goes out. When I went to check on it the next morning the breaker had tripped.

My husband had put another vapor light on the other end of our barn and it is fine; it also is on a separate breaker. We have a breaker box with about 20 breakers in it and so far none have tripped except the one.

By annie1 from Crosby, TX

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July 27, 20110 found this helpful
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Something is causing that breaker to trip-don't take the chance of a fire or electrocution, call a pro in to find out what is wrong.

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July 11, 2011 Flag

The breaker to our living room and patio has tripped twice at night. Once my husband just flipped it back on and it was fine. The next night it happened again and will not flip back on.

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