I live in an old farm house, and one of the things that irritated and worried me the most was that the circuit breakers were always tripping. It seemed that whenever I plugged something in or turned something on the circuit breakers would trip. I could tell when one would trip because I would hear a loud pop coming from the breaker box. I would go into my laundry room, where the breaker box is, and open the box to find one of the circuit breakers in the off position, and then click it back into place. It seemed that I was having to flip one breaker or another into place several times a day. I wanted to find out what caused my circuit breakers to malfunction.
There definitely is a problem if you have to frequently snap your breakers back into place. There is something either overloading your circuits, or you having a grounding problem, or a short circuit of some kind. First, I must say that you and I should be thankful that breakers do trip. They are designed to do that so that the connection will be cut, preventing a fire.
The first problem you should look for when a circuit breaker trips is an overloaded circuit. If you live in a house with very few electrical sockets, like I do, you might be tempted to use a plug in addition to your sockets. I have a plug in multiple outlets in almost every room. In my kitchen alone, I have the coffee pot, toaster, microwave, blender, all plugged into the same socket. All these appliances pull juice even when they are not in use. I learned to keep some of my appliances unplugged until I need to use them, because when the circuit has more current running through it than it can handle-the circuit breaks-and that is what the circuit breaker is designed to do.
The circuit breaker
Circuit breakers come in different amp ratings. Some are 15 amp breakers and some are 20 amp. An amp or ampere is a measurement of an electrical charge. There is a whole scientific explanation for the word, but basically I think of an amp as a measurement of heat. The heat is caused by electrons (electrical current) flowing through the wires. When the current you are using exceeds the amps (heat) that the breaker can withstand, the circuit is broken as a safety measure.
How to stop your circuits from breaking
As I said earlier in this topic, if you only have limited outlets in your home, unplug what you aren’t using. Another thing that is a must do, is to spread out your electric heaters and hair dryer, and other power suckers to different outlets. Don’t dry your hair in the same circuit you have your space heater plugged into. What I have not mentioned yet-but is important-is to check for any loose connections in your home. If you have an old outlet you may find that a plug is loose and has lots of play in the connection when you plug it in. You may notice sparking when you plug something in to that outlet. If this happens, the outlet needs to be removed and a new one needs to be installed. If you know how to do it, then do it, otherwise get a professional to do it for you.
Checking your outlets
If you have one outlet that has a loose connection, chances are you have more. You may have outlets with loose wiring, causing a black wire to touch a white one, or you may have a hot wire touching an outlet box, both of these conditions are called a ground fault. What is happening is a hot wire is touching a neutral wire. You or an electrical professional will need to check all your outlets. That means turn off the main breaker to cut the power to your house and check all your electrical outlets. Unscrew the face plate of the outlet and examine the wiring in there. Take note if there is any evidence of melted wire insulation. Examine the wires and see that they are not touching each other.
Besides checking your wiring, check your cords to your appliances to make sure they do not have any melted places on them. If your cords do have that melted appearance, you definitely do have an electrical problem. Another thing you need to do is use your other senses. Put your nose near the exposed outlet and take note if you smell anything that smells like something has been burned. Examine all your outlets in this way. If you find the problem is with the wiring or a loose connection be sure to get it fixed. It should stop your breakers from tripping.