14 July, 2023

When your electricity suddenly goes off without warning, the first thing you need to check is if the circuit breaker has tripped. Why do circuit breakers trip? 

The circuit breaker. in your home is responsible for automatically operating electrical switches, using on and off buttons. These breakers are designed to protect the electrical circuit from being damaged by excess electric currents. 

The switch will flip, breaking the electrical circuit connection. This is a key safety feature.

What Causes Circuit Breakers to Trip


The most common reason a circuit breaker trips is due to the circuit being overloaded. Each circuit is designed to carry a certain electrical load. If the load is exceeded the breaker will trip. This will prevent an electrical fire and ensure your home’s electricity isn’t damaged further. The circuit will remain dead until the breaker lever is reset to the on position.

Short circuits

A short circuit occurs when the hot black wire touches a neutral white or bare ground wire. A short circuit allows for a sudden burst of power within the breaker, due to lower resistance levels. The sudden increase causes the breaker to trip. This usually occurs when an appliance or device that has faulty wiring is plugged into the circuit.

Ground fault surges

A ground fault occurs when a hot wire comes in contact with the ground wire or the metal box it’s housed in. These faults can be extremely dangerous in areas with high moisture levels, such as the kitchen, bathrooms, or outdoors. This is one of the largest causes of people being shocked by the electrical current.

Old or faulty circuit breakers

If you notice any rust, burn, or scorch marks, you should call emergency electrical services immediately. These signs often indicate there is a problem with the wiring. The wires on old circuit breaker wiring and insulation can overheat. You will usually notice a burning smell.

If the circuit breaker is overheating, shut down the power immediately and call a trusted electrician.

How to Tell If You Need A New Circuit Breaker

Why does my breaker keep tripping? If the circuit breaker has gone bad, it won’t be able to protect your home from your electrical devices. It won’t trip during an electrical power surge! This could lead to an electrical fire or damage to your home and appliances.

Warning signs to look out for, these include:

  • A burning smell: If wires overheat they will give off a burning smell. If you notice this smell or any smoke. Shut down all the power without delay.
  • Breakers that are hot to the touch: If you feel the heat through the breakers when you touch them, this is known as a hot breaker. Turn off the power and call for professional assistance.
  • Power surges: If your home experiences a sudden burst of current, this is known as a power surge. Your circuit breaker should be fitted with a surge suppressor, but even this device isn’t always effective at preventing damage.

What To Do When the Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping?

How dangerous is it if a circuit breaker keeps tripping? The short answer is – very dangerous! Follow these steps if your circuit breaker keeps tripping.

  1. Check for overloaded circuits: There shouldn’t be too many devices plugged into one circuit. Unplug each device to determine which is drawing the most power. Plug that device into a different circuit to even the load.
  2. Check for a short in the devices that are plugged in: If a device that is plugged in has faulty wiring, it can trip the circuit breaker. Try each device in another circuit until you can determine which device is faulty.
  3. Check for a short circuit: A short occurs when two wires that shouldn’t come into contact, touch. This can happen in an outlet or a switch, or if the wires in an appliance are loose. This triggers a sudden surge of power through the wires and trips the circuit breaker.

Shop At ESD For High-Quality Circuit Breakers

Why do circuit breakers trip? Hopefully, this article has given you some insight into this common problem and the tools you need to identify an electrical problem in your home.

ESD can help you source high-quality products and provide you with expert advice you can trust. 

Electricity can be an extreme hazard and cause expensive damages, so it’s essential you check that your circuit breakers are always in perfect working order. We would be happy to assist. Simply contact us!