3 Reasons Your Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

Electrician Testing an outlet

There are 3 main reasons that are surprisingly common for your circuit breaker to begin tripping.

  • Circuit Overload
  • Short Circuit
  • Ground Fault

Here’s some information about the differences between a circuit overload, a short circuit and a ground fault to help you solve your circuit breaker and electrical system issues.

You go to plug in something or reach to flip on a switch and nada, nothing happens. Your circuit breaker has tripped again. Sure, you can just reset the circuit breaker each time it trips, or you can figure out the cause of the problem so you can fix it once and for all!

 

How Do You Know If a Circuit Breaker Has Tripped?

If the power has gone off in a certain area of your home rather than a whole-house power loss, the problem may be a tripped circuit breaker.  Electrical circuits of your home are protected by either circuit breakers or fuses.  All homeowners should know the location of their electrical panel or fuse box, and the opening should be easily accessible and not blocked by shelving, storage, or furniture. If each circuit breaker or fuse isn’t already labeled, take the time to identify each switch or fuse and the area it controls – Farryn Electric can help you label your panel if you would like our help. This will save you time and effort if a circuit or fuse trips again. If there are two breakers or fuses for one area, such as the kitchen, take care to detail which part of the kitchen each of the two switches controls. For example, you might label one switch “kitchen appliances” and the other switch “kitchen counter outlets” or other designations as appropriate.

If a circuit breaker trips because it has exceeded its maximum amperage, the switch handle will have moved between the on and off position and may show a red area alerting you that it has tripped. Depending on your electrical panel, sometimes the “trip” causes only a slight movement of the handle, and you’ll have to look closely at the switches to discern which one has tripped.

 

How Do You Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker?

To reset a tripped circuit breaker, turn off the breaker by moving the switch or handle to the off position, and then turn it back on.  For safety, it’s a good idea to stand back or to the side of the panel, just in case any sparks come from the breaker when it’s moved, or to wear safety goggles when resetting a circuit breaker. It’s also smart to keep a flashlight and batteries near your electrical panel to help light the area if the power is off. Rest the circuit breaker for a few minutes before unplugging and plugging items to determine what might have overloaded the circuit or caused the trip.

 

What is a Circuit Overload?

A circuit can become overloaded when an electrical wire/circuit receives more amperage than it’s intended to handle or may be caused by loose or corroded wires or connections. If a circuit trips because it has been overloaded, you can try disconnecting something from the circuit and using another circuit for the electrical power instead.

To help determine what caused the problem, unplug all the items on the circuit before resetting the breaker. After it’s reset and rested for a few minutes, turn on or plugin items, one at a time, to determine what may have caused the overload. If circuit overloads continue to happen in your home on a regular basis, you may need to install a new dedicated circuit and outlet for the area to handle the amperage load.

 

What is a Short Circuit?

A short circuit happens when a hot or active electrical wire and a neutral wire touch, causing a large amount of current to flow and overload the circuit. A short circuit should always cause a breaker to trip or a fuse to blow and may also cause sparks, popping sounds, or smoke. It may also be caused by issues like loose connections, a slipped wire, or even from damage caused by animals (mice or squirrels) chewing on wires. A short circuit can be caused by a faulty electrical switch, receptacle, fixture, appliance, plug, or cord. You can try to trace the short circuit yourself or call Farryn Electric for help. Short circuits can be dangerous due to the high temperatures from the current flow which can pose a fire hazard, so proceed with caution if you think your home has an issue and seek our professional assistance, especially if you can’t find the source.

 

What is a Ground Fault?

A ground fault can happen when a hot or active wire makes contact with the ground wire, a grounded portion of the junction box, or a grounded area of an appliance (Hot wires are usually black, neutral wires are usually white, and ground wires are usually green). When contact is made between a hot and ground wire large amount of current go through the circuit breaker which can cause it to trip. Many areas in the home are required by the National Electrical Code (NEC) to be protected by Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) to prevent electrical shocks and fires, including kitchens, bathrooms, garages, unfinished basements, outdoor areas. Ground faults usually happen when equipment is damaged or defective and can pose danger since live electrical parts may no longer be adequately protected from unintended contact.

Keep in mind that circuit breakers and fuses are safety devices for our protection when electrical malfunctions occur. Although, it may be frustrating when a circuit breaker trips or when a fuse blows, this action has served to protect us and our property. When troubleshooting or dealing with home electrical repairs, always take safety very seriously and never attempt to inspect or repair anything that you aren’t certain is safe. Always follow these electrical safety tips from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), including:

  • Never repair electrical cords or equipment unless qualified and authorized.
  • Have a qualified electrician inspect electrical equipment that has gotten wet before energizing it.
  • If working in damp locations, inspect electric cords and equipment to ensure that they are in good condition and free of defects, and use a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI).
  • Always use caution when working near electricity.

When your home’s electrical system malfunctions, you need expert assistance. Enjoy the reliability and security of having a comprehensive electrical diagnostic and repair by Farryn Electric, which includes a lifetime warranty on our workmanship, for as long as you own your home and a 5-year warranty on any new part replacement – our workmanship is guaranteed! Even if the part’s manufacturer has a lesser warranty, we still cover the part for 5 years.

Back to Basics: Tips to Prevent Overloading Circuits and Blowing Fuses

We’ve all been there: blow drying our hair, vacuuming up, turning on the kitchen blender, only to have the lights go out from an overloaded circuit, and ultimately, a blown fuse. Wires and a variety of devices being plugged in are all a part of our everyday lives, so it’s easy to forget that they can easily overload a home’s circuit breaker until it’s too late. Luckily, the experts at Farryn Electric have three tips that can help shed some light on this topic, so you can keep your circuit breaker happy, your fuses from blowing and your home running smoothly.

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Breaker and Wattage Conversion is Key

In order to figure out how many devices you can plug in without blowing a fuse, you must first figure out how many circuits your panel can handle. To figure this out, open your electrical panel to find the information of how many amps each circuit can handle without being overloaded. From here, multiply the amperage rating by 120 volts—this will give you your total wattage capacity. For example, the maximum wattage of a 15-amp circuit (multiplied by 120 volts) is 1,800 watts.

 

Keep Extension Cord Usage to a Minimum

A tripping circuit breaker can be a pain, so if you want to keep this from happening, you may want to think twice the next time you whip out an extension cord as an easy solution. While extension cords can give your circuit some temporary relief, it’s important to note that they are not a long-term solution. And as with most things in life that come with a user manual, it’s important to read the one that comes with your extension cord and to follow the tips in it provided by the manufacturer.

 

Wattage Comparison is Crucial for Plugged-In Devices

Between kitchen appliances, grooming tools, entertainment devices, cleaning equipment, and light bulbs, it can be easy to not realize how many things we have plugged in—until a fuse is blown, that is. Here’s a quick list of some devices you may plug in daily (or always have plugged in) to give you an idea of how much your circuit is being utilized:

  • Dishwasher (1,200-2,400 watts)
  • Blow dryer (600-1,200 watts)
  • Television (200-500 watts)
  • Speakers (220-1000 watts)
  • Vacuum cleaner (250-1,200 watts)
  • Light bulb (20-250 watts)

To decrease your chances of blowing a fuse, compare the wattage and amperage rating of each of these devices with the amount of power your circuits can handle. This information should be easy to find on their packaging, rating plates or tags. Once you know these numbers, it will be easy to determine if your circuit is overloaded or not.

If you’re finding that you’re consistently cursing (in the dark) because of a blown fuse, there may be an issue with your circuit’s wiring. The experts at Farryn Electric can help you figure this out. We provide electrical upgrade services, including amp upgrades, knob & tube removal, off-peak metering, and more! Not only do we have the tools and expertise to detect the issue for you, but we’ll easily fix it, so you can blow dry your hair, plug-in those new surround-sound speakers and vacuum the day away without having to worry about blowing a fuse. Please contact us today to learn more!

The Importance of Whole-House Surge Protectors

whole house surge protectors

Power surges can wreak havoc on your expensive electronics and appliances. A whole-house surge protector can save you both time and money in the long-run. This will safeguard your entire electrical system. At Farryn Electric we are here to help our customers!

What causes a power surge?
People tend to think a power surge is caused by something outside, like when lightning strikes or when a power line goes down. While external influences like lightning aren’t the most common cause of power surges, they can certainly cause the most destruction because it involves the entirety of your home.  Believe it or not, power surges usually occur right inside the home.

One of the most common causes of a power surge is overloaded outlets or circuits. Plugging in too many appliances or electronics in the same socket can lead to power surges and electrical fires.

Damage or exposed wiring is also a common cause of power surges. This can cause power surges when electrical wiring is damaged because the electricity that is flowing through the wiring is not being directed as it normally would.

Lastly, high power electrical devices like refrigerators and air conditioners can cause energy spikes and power surges. This happens because these appliances tend to draw an abnormally large amount of electricity.

Whole-house surge protection
80 percent of surges are generated internally. Most of these surges are very short and come from your homes appliances, but over time these surges can degrade the performance of your appliances. Having a whole-house surge protector can protect your home for years. This device is wired to your electric box and is typically placed in a more convenient location to be easily accessible.

Protective devices aren’t required by building codes or homeowner’s insurance carriers. However, it is recommended by the National Fire Protection Association and the Institute for Business and Home Safety. The good news is that protection is readily available, and affordable! Feel free to give us a call at (484) 316-0449.

 

Checking Your AC Breaker

checking ac breaker

 

During the summer and the excessive heat, home outdoor AC units are working overtime, attempting to make sure your home stays cool. Ultimately, the hot summer days can cause an enormous amount of electrical current to flow through your breaker. Your breaker box distributes electrical power to different circuits.

 

What is Arcing?

If your breaker is dated or not maintained properly, “arcing” will occur. It becomes so hot within the breaker, that this can actually lead to your panel melting! Arcing is an electric current that is brief, strong and highly luminous. An arc is the luminous current discharge which is produced when strong current leaps across the gap between electrodes or within a circuit.

What Can You Do to Prevent Arcing?

Simply open the door to your panel and run the back of your hand down the face of the breakers. If the breakers are slightly hot to the touch, it is normal. However, if the breakers are excessively hot there may be a potential danger.

What Do You Do if Your Breaker Gets Too Hot?

You may also notice a “fishy”/burned plastic smell and odds are your breaker needs to be repaired. If this is the case, immediately turn the breaker off and call us at Farryn Electric for a diagnostic, we will be happy to help!

How Can an Electrician Help?

If you don’t feel comfortable performing the check, making a quick call to Farryn Electric is the safest bet. Trust the experts!

How Can Breaker Problems Be Avoided?

If you want to lessen the chances of this or any other electrical hazard in your home, Farryn Electric offers comprehensive safety checks as well as electrical service upgrades to make sure your house isn’t outdated. Call Farryn Electric today for details.

 

5 Signs Your Electrical Wiring Needs an Upgrade

electrical wiring upgrade

Electrical malfunctions are a leading cause of house fires – over 50,000 a year – but the majority of these fires are preventable. Inadequate or faulty wiring is the most common culprit, but they often go unnoticed because homeowners don’t recognize the symptoms.

Homes are often only inspected during a renovation, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission recommends having an electrician look over your electrical system every 10 years. If your inspection is overdue, or if you recognize any of the following warning signs, call an electrician to inspect your home and fix any potential hazards.

Common Signs You Need an Electrical Upgrade

  1. Too many extension cords – Aside from creating a messy tripping hazard, there’s a reason electrical wires are kept in the walls: a protected wiring system suffers less wear and tear. Exposed cords can get pinched, kinked, or shorted out, leading to tripped breakers, damaged outlets, or even a fire. Extension cords should be used briefly and sparingly, such as for the holidays or other short-term uses. If you find yourself consistently needing more outlets, Farryn Electric can install them for you.
  2. Funny odors – A new appliance may produce an odd odor the first few times it’s used, but it you notice an unusual smell coming from an outlet, turn off and unplug anything connected to it immediately. Don’t use the outlet again until you’ve had it inspected by a qualified electrician. If your fuse box or breaker panel smells funny, call your Farryn Electric right away.
  3. Hot outlets or switch plates – Even if you are using a heat-producing appliance (such as a space heater), its outlet should never become hot. A switch plate may be slightly warm, but if it is too hot to touch, remove any plugs. If it remains hot without anything plugged in, the outlet may be wired incorrectly. Consult your electrician, who may advise you to shut off the breaker for that outlet until your system can be serviced.
  4. Frequently blown fuses or tripped breakers – Circuit breakers and fuses are designed to fail before they overload your system. If an appliance routinely trips a breaker, regardless of the outlet used, the appliance is likely at fault. But if a particular outlet repeatedly blows its fuse, the circuit is probably overloaded. Call Farryn Electric to discuss upgrading the circuit or adding a new line.
  5. Buzzing – When your electricity is working properly it shouldn’t make any noise: it flows quietly between connections. But if there are loose outlets, prongs, or fraying wires, the current will jump, causing a buzzing sound. If you hear buzzing from an outlet, stop using it and call Farryn Electric.

Whether you need to upgrade your electrical service or replace faulty outlets, Farryn Electric’s skilled electricians will complete your job with quality and care. Our company is built on a reputation for high-quality work and friendly service, and we work hard every day to maintain our reputation by being mindful of your time and respecting your home. If you’re in need of an electrical upgrade, we service the Greater Main Line area and much more. Check out some reviews from past customers and please call us today!

Adding or Upgrading Your Electrical Panel

electrical panel

If you have recently purchased a home with an older panel or your current panel cannot supply the amount of power you need, then you might need to upgrade the panel or install a new one. The minimum requirement for an electric breaker panel is 100 amps. Panels come in 100, 150, 200 and 400 amp capacities. Old panels, especially those with the old glass fuses, are prone to tripping and can pose a fire hazard. Remember to choose a panel that exceeds your electricity needs so you won’t tax your electrical system, which can cause outages, or worse, a fire. Your electrician can advise you on whether your panel can be upgraded or needs to be replaced. Keep in mind that an old style fuse box cannot be upgraded and must be replaced with a new panel.