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The circuit breakers in your home have a very important job: to protect you and your family from electrical shock and electrical fires! If your home circuits are wired and connected properly, your breakers should rarely trip. That said, what exactly causes breakers to trip? There are three possible causes we’ll discuss – circuit overload, short circuit, and ground fault.
A Circuit Overload is the most common reason that a circuit breaker is tripping. It basically means that there are too many heavy power consuming devices running at once on the same circuit. A 15 amp circuit with 20 amps of electricity running through it will cause the breaker to trip to prevent overheating of the wire, the appliance, or both.
Short Circuits are more dangerous than circuit overloads. What happens with a short circuit is the hot wire (typically the wire with black insulation) touches the neutral wire (white insulation) in an outlet, lamp, or any other appliance or place along the circuit where a connection is made. Similarly to an overload, it causes a large amount of electrical current and heat.
Ground Fault is similar to a short circuit. To better understand it, however, let’s explain what a ground is. A ground wire takes excess electricity and carries it safely away from an appliance or electrical load – ground wires are typically bare or coated in a green insulation. A ground fault is when a hot wire touches the ground wire, or any metal that’s connected to the ground wire.
What Should You Do if you feel you’re making too many trips out to the garage or down to the basement to reset a breaker? Call or contact E.T. Lawson to have our master electricians come and check to make sure that your home wiring was done properly, if your panel needs updating or if you simply need a new circuit breaker to replace a faulty one.