why does my main breaker keep tripping
Going outside to mess with your tripped circuit breaker can be overwhelming if you don t know what or why it happened. If you re not an electrician we d suggest you contact one. Something may be seriously wrong with some electrical wires as to its overloading of current. A circuit breaker trips or shuts off the electrical flow to protect the circuit from overheating and causing damage--
even possibly an electrical fire. We don t want to alarm you, but it s better to be safe than have you or a loved one hurt or in danger. Before you go and flip the switch on again, take a moment to determine what the root cause is of the tripping of the circuit breaker. The circuit overloading is the most common reason your circuit breaker is tripping. That means you re running too many heavy power consuming devices at the same time on the same circuit. For example, if you have a 15 amp circuit with 20 amps worth of electricity running through that same circuit because your hair dryer, TV and air conditioner were all on at the same time, then the circuit breaker will trip to prevent overheating.
Redistribute the power-heavy devices on the overloaded circuit to another general purpose circuit. Turn off some devices on the circuit to reduce the electrical load. UPDATE: Another cause of an overloaded circuit is an overheating appliance. It pulls in more amps than normal, causing the circuit to overload. An overheating central air conditioner is notorious for this during the summer. The next possible (and more dangerous) cause is a short circuit. A short circuit happens when a hot wire (black) touches another hot wire or touches a neutral wire (white) in one of your outlets. When these two wires touch, a large number of current flows, creating more heat than the circuit can handle, so it shuts off. You can tell if there was a short circuit by checking your outlets and plugs for the smell of burning, or brown/black discoloration.
These wires can cross for multiple reasons, but it could be as simple as a loose connection or improper wiring. Similar to a short circuit. A ground fault happens when a hot wire (black) touches the ground wire (bare copper) on the side of a metal outlet box which is connected to the ground wire. Just like a short circuit, you need to see if anything looks out of the ordinary with your outlets. Need help with your Circuit Breaker in Phoenix, Scottsdale, Glendale, Mesa or in the East Valley of AZ? Our number one recommendation with electricity is to call us and have one of our highly trained and knowledgeable electricians visit your home to make these determinations. Safety first, always!!! If you re not sure which of the problems listed above is causing your circuit breaker to trip, and want on-site help with your circuit breakers or to check your wiring,.
I'm not disagreeing with either John or Racraft; I just want to add a bit of explanation. When a breaker trips on overload, it doesn't do so because of current; it does so because of _heat_. In normal operation, the current flowing through the breaker heats up a metallic strip, and if that strip gets hot enough, the breaker trips open. However if anything else causes such heating, it will cause the breaker to trip. There might be no current flow at all; if that strip gets hot enough for any reason, the breaker will trip. Something that will cause heating, and which will cause breakers to trip well below the current where they should trip, is a loose connection. This loose connection could be where the service cable connects to the main breaker, it could be where the breaker connects to the panel bus, or it could be at the contacts inside the breaker itself.
This should be investigated by a professional electrician; dealing with your main breaker is not a DIY job. I would in any case replace the main breaker. While the actual problem may be the connection between the breaker and its incoming wire, investigating the bus connection will require removing the breaker anyway; once you've paid for the labor of pulling and replacing the main breaker, it might as well be a new breaker. If the problem is between the main breaker and the panel bus, then this may force a replacement of the panel. A bad connection between breaker and bus can cause pitting of the bus, which means that you will never get a good connection, and that both the bus and breaker need replacement. The electrician should also look for any causes of the problem, eg a bad water seal on incoming wires, letting water leak in to the main breaker, or poorly arranged insulation causing condensation.
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