HomeTips & GuidesReset Breaker: How To Reset the Breaker When It Trips

Reset Breaker: How To Reset the Breaker When It Trips

It is uncommon to find circuit breakers in vehicles because they are expensive and take up a lot of space; cars use fuses in fuse boxes. So we’ll cover how to reset breaker in buildings, such as garages, where you park or repair your vehicle. 

The process only takes a few steps and minutes, so you’ll complete it shortly. Let’s get right into it!

Table of Contents

Why Do Circuit Breakers Trip?

Circuit breaker tripping is not bad because it shows your electrical system’s safety net is fully functional.

The ideal situation is to have electrical current flowing through the system with zero interruptions, but certain conditions hamper this perfection. They include the following.

Overloaded Circuit

The breaker will trip if the circuit has too many devices that draw more power than the wires can transmit.

Each electrical circuit from the breaker panel should have a circuit breaker amp rating equal to that of the cables.

A circuit breaker rated at 63 amps (D63)

A circuit breaker rated at 63 amps (D63)

So, if you connect multiple power guzzlers, such as air conditioners, dryers, and wall heaters, to an electrical circuit that cannot handle the load, the wires and breaker will heat up.

This excessive power activates sensitive components in the breaker, causing it to trip.

The switch interruption only takes milliseconds, meaning a breaker’s spring-loaded mechanism will cut off the power supply before damage hits.

Short Circuits

Short circuits occur when hot wires at higher potential differences contact other conductors at lower voltages.

For instance, if the wire has melted insulation, the exposed copper can short circuit if it comes into contact with water.

This fault can also occur if a hot wire touches a neutral wire.

A person resetting circuit breakers after tripping due to an electrical fault

A person resetting circuit breakers after tripping due to an electrical fault

The excess current flow heats and activates the sensitive components in the breaker, causing the spring-loaded mechanism to trip the switch.

Ground Faults

Ground faults are similar to short circuits because they occur when electrical current flows into an unintended path.

In this case, the unintended channel is any grounded conductor, such as a ground wire and metal circuit breaker box.

How To Identify Tripped Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers are like switches but with three states (they are not binary).

  • On position: The circuit breaker switch is on if the handle feels firm and points towards the electrical service panel’s centerline. And it should allow power to flow through to get to the devices.
  • Off position: First, the circuit should have no power flowing through. Secondly, the handle should be firm and point towards the breaker box’s outer edge.
  • Tripped position: If the breaker trips, the handle feels springy or spongy and settles mid-position between on and off.
Multiple circuit breakers at different positions in a panel box

Multiple circuit breakers at different positions in a panel box

These positions apply to single-pole breakers, tandem breakers, and double-pole breakers.

How To Reset Breakers After Tripping

Houses usually have multiple breakers with different ratings to safeguard various electrical circuits.

For instance, lighting circuits can have a 10 to 15-amp breaker, while wall outlets for regular devices like TVs have 30-amp breakers.

It is rare for all breakers to trip concurrently because they regulate different circuits.

So you’ll know one has tripped if power goes out in a specific section of your home. For instance, the lights might be on, but the wall outlets are not working.

Follow these steps to rectify the issue.

Step 1: Locate the Breaker Panel

Look for an interior wall-mounted box, usually in the utility closet or basement. This large, rectangular panel should have thick wires going into it.

In most cases, the breaker panel will be near the power meter in the exterior wall. So try to follow it from the electric meter.

An indoor electrical breaker panel box

An indoor electrical breaker panel box

Step 2: Dry Your Hands

Wipe your hands using a dry towel to eliminate the chances of being hit with an electric shock.

And we recommend wearing rubber gloves to cut off any direct contact that can put you in danger.

Step 3: Open the Electrical Panel Cover

Press the door latch lightly using one hand, then pull it outwards to open the cover. The door has hinges, so it should swing open easily.

Step 4: Look for the Tripped Breaker

Most circuit breakers have sides marked on and off. All of them should be in the “on” position if there are no issues. So look for any breaker that is off or not wholly in the “on” position.

Although this switch has three states, the off and tripped states have the same effect; they cut the power flow.

A person turning a tripped circuit breaker back on

A person turning a tripped circuit breaker back on

Refer to the circuit breaker diagram if you cannot locate the tripped switch. Or you can flip the breaker switches off, one after the other, while observing which circuit goes off.

The last resort should be to call the licensed electrician who did the installation.

While having access to the breaker box, check if any of the breakers feel hot. Breaker switches should never run hot, so this scenario means there is an electrical issue.

Contact a professional electrician to look into the problem immediately. The breaker switch will most likely need a replacement.

Step 5: Flip the Tripped Circuit Breaker Switch

After identifying the breaker switch, turn it off, then flip it back on.

The breaker might need a replacement if the power does not come back on in that part of the circuit or the switch can’t hold the handle in the on position.

And if the breaker trips almost immediately again, the circuit has an electrical fault that needs immediate fixing.

Electricians replacing a 20-amp circuit breaker in a panel box that has gone kaput

Electricians are replacing a 20-amp circuit breaker in a panel box that has gone kaput.

How To Eliminate the Circuit Breaker Tripping Issue

Follow these tips to avoid this problem.

  • Balance the load in the circuits. Try to unplug some devices and connect them to other breaker circuits.
  • Don’t run multiple power guzzlers concurrently. Power one or two at a time.
  • Replace your regular wall receptacle with GFCI outlets for ground fault protection. This device will take the bullet for the circuit breaker, but only when there is a ground fault surge.
A GFCI electrical outlet

A GFCI electrical outlet

  • Get a certified electrician to separate the hardwired electrical appliances, like air conditioners and clothes dryers (high-amp devices), into a different circuit with high-amp-rated wires and breakers.
  • Replace the old or worn electronic devices, light fixtures, and switches that might be shorting.

What Are Sub-Breakers?

Housing electrical circuits have a main circuit breaker that cuts off power to all the wires inside.

So this switch is like the safety net of the last resort, and it helps you replace the sub breakers safely when damaged.

A main circuit breaker (double-pole) with three single-pole sub-breakers

A main circuit breaker (double-pole) with three single-pole sub-breakers

On the other hand, sub-breakers are the switches that control the various circuits inside your house.

You can have several sub-breakers in the panel, including one for the lighting circuit, the other for the cooker switch and electric shower, and another for regular wall outlets.

So, sub-breakers split the power into individual circuits depending on the power rating or draw.

Wrap Up

As stated earlier, circuit breaker tripping is not bad. But it signals something is wrong with the circuit wiring, electrical devices, or the breaker. 

So, begin the troubleshooting process using the steps explained earlier. That’s it for today. Check out this article about industrial control panels to learn more about regulating electrical circuits.

Hi I am Christa, sales manager of Cloom.

I have extensive expertise and experience in wiring harnesses and I believe I can help you.

And we have a very professional technical team who can clearly understand the customer’s needs and give professional suggestions and solutions after receiving the drawings.

If you also have wiring harness needs, please send me the drawing so that we can give you our quote and start our business.

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