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Troubleshooting Why a Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

Category Electrical
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, 20160 found this helpful

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.

human hand flipping the switch on the circuit breaker.

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

By 1 found this helpful
January 21, 2011

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

Answer Was this helpful? 1
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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By 0 found this helpful
January 2, 2011

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
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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January 6, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

1) the circuit breaker has gone bad (they do that)

2) you have way, way too much on that breaker!

I would bet that the breaker trips when the heater comes on. The heater should be on its own breaker. I agree with everyone else, call the electrician now!

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May 19, 20110 found this helpful

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.

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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.

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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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June 14, 20110 found this helpful

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
Best Answer

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 28, 20120 found this helpful

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
Best Answer

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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June 3, 20110 found this helpful

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
Best Answer

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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By 0 found this helpful
November 24, 2011

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

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
November 28, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

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, 20110 found this helpful

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
Best Answer

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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By 0 found this helpful
July 26, 2011

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

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
July 27, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

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, 20110 found this helpful

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. The things on the breaker are just standard things (TV, 2 lamps, an overhead light and fan, as well as, the overhead lights and fans on patio).

We can't figure out why it won't flip back on or why it is tripping at night when everything is off. Any ideas? Oh, and this is a new construction home. We have been in it 1 1/2 years.

By K.D.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
July 12, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

Usually you will find it on the outside part of the things you mentioned. A bug or spider in the fixture. Turn the breaker off and clean all the fixtures outside including the plug ins. Moisture sometimes causes the wires to corrode, usually something simple like that if it hasn't been doing it before. I do my own and there is no risk as long as the breaker is off.

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January 31, 20140 found this helpful

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

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
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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May 27, 20110 found this helpful

One circuit breaker is for the pool filter, it was working fine and now it keeps tripping. I unplugged the filter and it is still tripping?

What is wrong with it?

By Karen C.

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
May 28, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

Although breakers can go bad, it isn't very common. Chances are good that there is something else on the circuit that you don't know about that is causing the problem. Look for something else that isn't working when the breaker is tripped, check receptacles with a good lamp to see if you can find ones that don't work.

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September 28, 20131 found this helpful

I live in a two tenant house. The upstairs neighbors keep blowing the circuit. Last night at least 2 went down. The landlord said that it's impossible for 2 different breakers to go without shutting power down to the whole house. He also said that they think I intentionally shut the breakers down and that this is a criminal offense. I know nothing about breakers (only to reset them). Is it possible for more than one breaker to trip without shutting power to the whole house down?

By Diane

Answer Was this helpful? 1
September 29, 20130 found this helpful

Yes, it is possible. It used to happen here all the time. Whenever anything was on and someone used the toaster, the breaker for the kitchen outlets and the breaker for the lights would click off. The electrician said they were "cross wired". We had a new panel put in with more breakers and everything rewired, and the problem was fixed. He just doesn't want to spend the money. It's a fire hazard. You should report the problem to your local rentals board.

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September 29, 20130 found this helpful

Absolutely agree with everything Dena said! This landlord is trying to dodge the cost of having the house electricity supply brought into the 21st century. If he doesn't get it fixed within a week report him - this really is a fire hazard!

It's also seems he might be trying to cause trouble between you and your fellow tenants - you might want to make a point of talking to them so they know this is nothing you're doing. Then all of you can work together to make sure your landlord upholds his contractual obligations to maintain the wiring to a safe standard.

If you decide to move because of unsafe conditions, under most US state tenant-landlord laws you are not liable to any charges owing to breaking any lease. Don't let this creep intimidate you into paying a cent, this is HIS problem - multiple circuits being blown is not only possible, it means there are very serious problems with the wiring.

Check your lease - no tenant is ever responsible for faulty wiring unless they can be proved to have illegally tampered with it. Should the property catch fire the subsequent investigation by the fire department will prove tampering or that the wiring was deficient and sub-standard - can't fool FD (or insurance) investigators. Many have tried, all have failed.

Consult your local legal aid group, you do have a case.

I wonder - does your landlord even have proper zoning permission to be renting a multi-family property? You might want to check on that.

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April 19, 20150 found this helpful

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

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
April 20, 20150 found this helpful
Best Answer

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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February 19, 20140 found this helpful

I bought my house a year ago. The electrical box was replaced because it did not meet code as well as some wiring and new outlets were installed. I have had absolutely no issues, never blown a breaker or anything.

I came home tonight to find only some of my house working. Half the kitchen, half the living room, half the basement, and my garage door won't open. I checked the electrical box and a breaker blew. I reset it and switched it back on and all it does is spark a little and shut right back off. I unplugged eerything in my house and waited a few hours and tried again and still nothing.

I live in Illinois where we've had the worst winter ever, averaging 70 inches of snow over the course of winter. Today however it reached around 50 so everything was melting and water just pouring down my house non stop. I read there is a box outside as well. Could that be an issue? Or a bad breaker? Please help! The electrician wants $150/hr.

By Missy Mo

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February 21, 20140 found this helpful
Best Answer

That electrician might be worth every cent of that $150 /hour. Since you have had no serious issues before, and have just had everything replace, this sounds like a serious issue to me. I'd call the electrician. You may have something dangerous going on - better a big bill than a house on fire.

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July 10, 20120 found this helpful

My trailer house has a breaker box in my trailer for different parts of my trailer, but it keeps tripping the breaker box on the outside pole that my trailer is plugged into. If I have the dryer and AC on it trips. If I have the microwave and washer on it trips and I have to go outside to reset the switch. Help.

By tootiel from Menominee, MI

Answer Was this helpful? Yes
July 10, 20120 found this helpful
Best Answer

Those appliances are pulling to much power. You or the owner of the trailer park need an electrician to up the ampage to the outside pole or to the house.

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June 1, 20110 found this helpful

I have a 7.5 Kw motor started by a control circuit with breaker. The breaker is tripping while I stop the motor. What is the cause for this?

By Linga

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June 19, 20110 found this helpful
Best Answer

There's an electrical problem of some sort that could be dangerous, that's why the breaker is tripping. Have the motor checked soon.

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By 0 found this helpful
December 31, 2016

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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By 0 found this helpful
December 31, 2016

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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May 8, 20130 found this helpful

I live overseas, and have a 220V circuit. Yesterday, when I came home and turned on the light at the bottom of the semi-outdoor stairwell, the main circuit breaker shut off. I turned it back on and it was fine and I shut the light off from the switch at the top. It happened again today, but this time I switched it off from the top before I turned on the circuit breaker.

I plan to not use the stairwell light any more, but is that enough or is it dangerous to leave in that condition? I can call the landlord, but if it's not dangerous, my lease is almost up and I expect to be moving in a couple of months anyway so I'd just as soon not bother the landlord now. But I will if I need to.

By Joy C

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May 9, 20130 found this helpful

I would alert the landlord just in case. You might save the life of the person that moved there after you.

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May 10, 20130 found this helpful

As a landlord myself, I would definitely want to know about this problem so it could be fixed. Even if you are moving, please contact the landlord ASAP and let him know.

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May 10, 20130 found this helpful

I would recommend telling your landlord about the problem because if you don't he/she may very well charge you for any repairs that have to be made or not release your bond when you leave.

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By 0 found this helpful
June 8, 2017

I have had the same appliances, television and computer connected to the same 15amp circuit for at least a year. However last night I connected a lamp to that circuit and it tripped the breaker. When I reset the breaker with the lamp disconnected within a second the breaker tripped again. Next I disconnect all the appliances from that circuit (resulting in no load on the circuit) and tried resetting the breaker again. The same thing happened the breaker tripped again almost immediately. In this scenario would I be safe in assuming the circuit breaker is bad and should be resplaced? Thank you in advance for your assistance.

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By 0 found this helpful
July 29, 2016

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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By 0 found this helpful
June 23, 2016

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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By 0 found this helpful
December 29, 2015

Starting about 2 months ago the main breaker outside has shut off my electricity 7 times. I had to call maintenance each time as I do not have access to the breaker panel. In each case, there were no breakers tripped on the panel inside the apt. The maintenance man said I should not have the central air/heat running at the same time as the washer and dryer. Last week the air conditioner had been turned on a little while prior to it happening, but neither the washer or dryer was in use. Then yesterday, it happened again. This time, the central air/heat and the washer and dryer were off. There was a small electric heater being used in the bedroom, but we didn't even own the heater during the first 5 times the main breaker tripped. Also, last month our bill showed we had used over 5,000 kwhs! Our highest usage ever was around 2,000 prior to that. What is going on?

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December 30, 20150 found this helpful

Just a question, Linkeen1, but do your power circuits (the use of which are calculated and billed to you) include any outside outlets? Is it possible someone has been plugging in at your expense?

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By 0 found this helpful
May 8, 2015

My downstairs lighting circuit breaker trips every 30 minutes or so. It is a 10 amp breaker. Can you tell me what I should check?

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May 8, 20150 found this helpful

It may be that everything is working properly. 10 amps is a small breaker and if it is loaded to between 10 and 12 1/2 amps it could take 10, 20, 30 minutes or even longer to trip based on the temperature around the breaker box.

Breakers do not trip instantly:

a standard 10 amp breaker I use trips as follows:

over 10,000 amp : max breaker rating, may not trip, may have other problems.

300 to 10,000 amp : 1/60 of 1 second to trip

200 to 300 amp : up to 0.4 seconds to trip

100 to 200 amp : up to 1.5 seconds to trip

20 to 100 amp : up to 50 seconds to trip

15 to 20 amps : up to 150 seconds to trip

12 1/2 to 15 amps : up to 250 seconds to trip

voltage x current = power

voltage=120 volts

amps= 10 amps max

power= 1200 watts max

Your total connected load at lights and receptacles on this circuit cannot exceed 1200 watts

If the circuit is loaded, which an electrician can verify with a meter, your options are limited. The wire size needs to be identified to see if it can handle a larger breaker, if it can then simply put in a larger breaker. (#14 awg wire can be protected with a 15 amp breaker).

If the wire size is too small then you will need to replace it with larger wire before increasing the breaker size.

Another option, which I should have suggested first, is to replace less efficient lighting such as incandescent with more efficient such as LED. This will shed load dropping your amp draw. A 60 watt incandescent will pull 60 watts of power. A 60 watt CFL will pull 15 watts of power. A 60 watt LED will pull 8 watts of power. (60 watts of power is 1/2 amp and your breaker only has 10 amps available)

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