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Having a repeatedly tripping fuse board is no one’s idea of a good time, especially when you don’t know why it’s happening. Each breaker in your fuse board is responsible for a specific part of your electrical network, and, while some breakers deal with single high-power appliances (cookers, electrical showers, etc), most of them are responsible for several things at once. For example, it is common for all the lighting in a home to be on the same breaker, meaning one faulty light fixture tripping the breaker will take out all the lighting.
Electrical outlets are similar in that one breaker will be responsible for several electrical outlets. For smaller properties, you may have all the electrical outlets on a single breaker. The problem with this is that a single faulty appliance causing that breaker to trip is also cutting the power to all the other appliances on the same circuit.
It is not advisable to just reset the breaker and hope for the best. Aberrations do happen, but if you reset your breaker, and it immediately trips, or it happens again down the line, you almost certainly have a problem that needs dealing with. Not only will ignoring it not fix the problem, you could be putting yourself at risk from electrical fire, shock, or any number of other problems that can arise from faulty electrical systems.
Why Do Breakers “Trip”?
The purpose of the fuse board and the breakers and RCDs they contain is to protect people and property from injury and damage as a result of faulty electrical systems. When electrical appliances or wiring go wrong, they can start fires, cause minor explosions, and electrocute people. The point of a breaker or RCD is to detect the sudden changes that occur in the electrical current when a short happens, and cut the power immediately. In theory, a human should be able to touch an exposed electrical wire and the RCD would trip and cut the power so quickly that the human would be safe from electrocution.
Do not try this! “Should” is the important word there, and, while a great deal of effort goes into making these systems foolproof, it’s best not to tempt fate. So, when your fuse board trips, it is a sign that there is an electrical problem in your property, potentially one that could have caused you harm, had the fuse board not done its job.
Narrowing Down the Problem
If you have followed what we said above, you might have spotted the inherent problem here; determining the cause of your tripping fuse board. If the dedicated breaker for your electric oven keeps tripping, you can comfortably assume that the problem is with the oven. At the very least, you will be able to narrow it down to that specific part of your electrical network. However, if the breaker tripping is responsible for several electrical outlets in your home, working out which one is the culprit is a little trickier.
Naturally, the easiest way to deal with this problem is to get a professional to come in and run some tests, but it’s perfectly understandable to want to do what you can first. Unfortunately, unless you have the tools and expertise that a qualified electrician would use, you will be limited to a somewhat tedious afternoon of unplugging things and plugging them back in.
The easiest way to narrow things down to the appliance that is causing the problem is to unplug everything and then try plugging them back in one at a time to see which one is causing the breaker to trip. Of course, if one of your appliances is literally smoking or showing signs of electrical damage, that’s a strong sign that it might be that appliance that’s causing the problem. As we’ll get into below in our 5 reasons, a breaker tripping when you plug a particular appliance in doesn’t guarantee that the appliance is at fault, but more on that below.
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5 Reasons Your Appliance is Tripping Your Fuse Board
So, you’ve narrowed the problem down to a particular appliance, but what could be causing it to make your breaker trip like that? The important thing to remember here is that the breaker is responsible for the whole circuit, not just the appliances connected to it. That means that problems with the wiring and, indeed, the fuse board or breaker itself could be causing it to trip.
#1 Damaged Plug or Cable
Probably the most common cause of an appliance causing a breaker to trip is a faulty plug or cable. This can happen because the cable has been damaged somehow, such as might be the case after something heavy has been dropped on it. If you have small pets that are allowed to roam around the house, check that they haven’t been chewing the cable.
The plug could become damaged after being knocked or pulled violently from the wall. A common cause of this kind of damage is from someone tripping over the cable and violently yanking the plug from the socket. In this case, the circuit is probably being shorted as the live and neutral wires come into contact with each other. The breaker detects the sudden change and trips, cutting the power. If the damage is in the cable, things may seem a little inconsistent as it could be the case that the cable is fine in a certain position but shorts the circuit when moved. In these cases, you could go for months without a problem and then one day the cable is moved and the breaker trips again.
#2 Placing Excessive Load on Circuit
Electrical wires are rated for a certain amount of electricity, placing a built-in hard-limit on how much of a load you can put on those wires. Unfortunately, exceeding the capacity of electrical wires tends to lead to things like electrical fires, so the breaker will be sized to trip before that capacity is reached. Now, while it is certainly possible to plug an appliance into an outlet that single-handedly exceeds the capacity of the wiring and causes the breaker to trip, this problem is far more likely to occur as a result of cumulative overloading, which is a fancy way of saying you have plugged too many things into the same circuit.
The easiest way to determine if this is the case would be to unplug two appliances—the one you suspect is the cause of the problem and another one—and plug them back in but connect the suspected problem appliance first. If the breaker only trips when you reconnect the second appliance, you are overloading your circuit, and will need to find somewhere else to connect some of your appliances.
#3 Faulty Appliance
Unfortunately, appliances sometimes do just go faulty. It could be due to physical trauma (a lamp being knocked off a table, for example), or wear and tear, or just because the appliance was poorly made. Regardless of the reason, you can identify this by trying the appliance on a different electrical circuit to see if it trips that breaker too, or disconnecting everything so that the potentially faulty appliance is the only thing connected. If your appliance is faulty, your next course of action will depend on your own preferences. If the appliance is something like a cheap radio, you might want to just throw it away. If it’s an expensive appliance, or an appliance with some intrinsic value, you might want to get it repaired. Regardless, you should not be plugging it back in while the fault remains.
#4 Faulty Electrical Outlet
Sometimes your investigation may lead you to a specific appliance as the cause of your tripping breaker, but it is actually the outlet that is at fault. Remember, the breaker is responsible for the whole circuit, and that includes all the wiring and outlets between it and the appliances.
Obvious signs of a faulty electrical outlet include scorch marks around the socket, burning smells, and smoke. You can relatively easily test this fault by moving the appliance to a different socket on the same breaker circuit. If the breaker stops tripping, the problem wasn’t with the appliance.
#5 Water Shorting
Water conducts electricity, so getting water in the inner workings of an electrical appliance or outlet is less than ideal. If your appliance has been the victim of a spillage, there’s a good chance there is moisture inside shorting the electrical components out. In many cases this will only affect the appliance, perhaps blowing the fuse in the plug, but it can cause your breaker to trip as well.
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Electrical appliances causing your fuse board to trip are not that uncommon, but it’s important to remember there are a lot more points of failure in your home’s electrical network than just the appliances. And, of course, never try to ignore a problem like this. If your fuse board is repeatedly tripping, there is a problem that needs fixing.
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Why does my appliance keep tripping the circuit breaker? ›
Three of the most common reasons why this may happen are: Too many electrical appliances are in use together, which overloads the circuit. One of the electrical appliances in the house is faulty. There is a faulty power connection in one of the appliances.What is the most common cause of blown fuse or tripped breakers? ›
The most common cause of a blown fuse is when something draws too much power from the circuit. This is most often caused by either too many lights or from using too many plug-in appliances at once. The biggest culprit for this kind of issue is a multiple outlet adapter plugged into a socket.
The easiest way to tell is by locating your fuse box and seeing if any of the electric breaker switches have flipped downwards. If they have, you have either overloaded a circuit with too many electrical appliances or one of those electrical appliances is faulty.How do I stop my appliance from tripping the power? ›
Switch the frequently tripped breaker to the OFF position and then back to ON. Then plug your appliances and electronics back in, one at a time. Stop this process immediately if you see any damage to wall outlets or external wires.What is the most common causes of a tripped breaker? ›
The most common cause of a tripped circuit breaker is an overload in that circuit. Each circuit is only intended to carry a certain electrical load, and if it exceeds this load, it will cause the breaker to trip.
When a circuit breaker regularly trips or a fuse repeatedly blows, it is a sign that you are making excessive demands on the circuit and need to move some appliances and devices to other circuits. Or, it may indicate that your house has too few circuits and is in need of a service upgrade.Why has my electricity gone off but my fuse box not tripped? ›
A circuit breaker can fail without tripping and is an indication it needs to be replaced. It can also mean there are wiring issues with the circuit itself, such as exposed/loose wiring, overheating, and unregulated voltage.What causes circuit breaker to trip amps or volts? ›
In most cases, a circuit breaker tripping occurs because of an overloaded circuit. What this means is that a circuit is trying to draw more power than it is designed to carry. The circuit wires will heat up due to the excess power that is being drawn.How do you stop a fuse from tripping? ›
The simple answer to how to stop your circuit breaker from tripping in your fuse board is to not overload your electrical circuits. Everything from your power outlets to your electrical wires is rated for a certain amount of electrical current and exceeding that will cause your breakers to trip.How do I test a circuit breaker that keeps tripping? ›
To test for circuit overload, the next time the breaker trips, go to the electrical panel and turn off all the switches in the affected area and unplug all appliances, lamps, and other devices. Flip the breaker back on and then turn on the switches and plug in/turn on devices one at a time.
Why is my breaker tripping with no load? ›
If the breaker trips immediately upon resetting, even with nothing plugged in or turned on, it's likely something in your home's wiring causing the problem. This could be a loose connection at a receptacle or other device, or something more complicated, like worn insulation within your walls.Can a bad appliance trip a breaker? ›
Your appliances are faulty – Sometimes a faulty appliance (even something simple like a hair dryer, toaster, or lamp) can cause a circuit to trip over and over again. This issue is usually easy to diagnose, and the best way to get rid of the problem is to replace the appliance!Can one bad electrical outlet affect others? ›
Many older homes have all of the electrical outlets in a room or an area of the home all connected on a single circuit breaker. With old homes like this, a bad outlet may cause all of the other outlets in that room to stop working because it will trip the breaker.Can power out on one side of house breaker not tripped? ›
So, if power suddenly goes out to part of the home, but no breakers trip, it could be that one of the two hot wires has become loose (causing flickering) or disconnected (no power). This can happen at the transformer, in the meter base, or at the connection to the main breaker in the panel.Can a power surge cause a fuse to trip? ›
Short circuits are dangerous because high levels of electricity can heat up the wiring and cause a fire. However, that's where your circuit breaker comes in by detecting the surge and then it'll trip, or a fuse will blow.How do I know if my circuit is overloaded? ›
An obvious indication of an overloaded circuit is a breaker that keeps tripping and shutting off your power. Other signs of a circuit overload include: Lights that flicker or dim, especially when you switch on appliances or more lights. Buzzing noises from outlets or switches.Should I be worried if my breaker keeps tripping? ›
Don't ignore a circuit breaker that keeps tripping. This is a sign that one of your circuits is getting overloaded on a regular basis. Your circuits are only able to handle up to a certain level of voltage. Beyond this voltage, you run the risk of starting an electrical fire.Can a bad appliance trip a circuit breaker? ›
Your appliances are faulty – Sometimes a faulty appliance (even something simple like a hair dryer, toaster, or lamp) can cause a circuit to trip over and over again. This issue is usually easy to diagnose, and the best way to get rid of the problem is to replace the appliance!Is it bad if my circuit breaker keeps tripping? ›
Why Does My Breaker Keep Tripping? If there is frequent tripping in your circuit breaker, it indicates something going wrong with the circuit. There may be a short circuit in one of your appliances or a ground fault. Maybe there is a circuit overload or a sign indicating the circuit breaker box is faulty.Will a breaker go bad if it keeps tripping? ›
That means it is successfully protecting your appliances from a damaging electric fault or hazard. However, if your breaker keeps tripping every time you use an electronic device, it can be one of the signs of a bad breaker. In that case, you need to repair or replace your circuit breaker.
What are three warning signs of an overloaded electrical circuit? ›
- Dimming lights.
- Buzzing outlets or switches.
- Warm outlets or switch covers.
- Burning smells from or marks on outlet covers/switches. (This can also be a sign of other serious wiring issues!)
- Power tools, appliances, or electronics aren't as powerful as they once were.
Unplug all appliances on that problem circuit and switch off any immersion heaters (if you have one), boilers, outside lights etc. Switch the tripped switch to the ON position and plug in the appliances one by one until the trip goes again. If it does trip again then you will require a new appliance.How do I know which appliance is tripping my circuit breaker? ›
Open the cover on the consumer unit to see which switches have tripped to the OFF position. Put them back to the ON position. If tripping occurs again, it is probably being caused by a faulty appliance. You need to identify which circuit is affected and which appliance on that circuit is causing the problem.What makes an appliance trip? ›
Overloads. Overloads are a common reason for circuit breakers to keep tripping. They happen when you put a greater electrical demand on a particular circuit than it's capable of producing, or if you have too many light fixtures or appliances going simultaneously.Can an appliance cause a short circuit? ›
Sometimes an appliance, rather than your home's electrical wiring, is the culprit behind a short circuit. The problem could be faulty wiring within the appliance itself, its power cord, or its plug. (Faulty power cords and plugs are often easy to spot since they can appear scorched, melted, or frayed.)What are the symptoms of a bad circuit breaker? ›
- Noticing blinking or flickering lights inside your home.
- Experiencing poor performance or interruptions with appliances.
- Regularly replacing light bulbs since they're quickly burning out.
- Smelling an electrical burning odor originating from your panel.
In order to diagnose a circuit breaker overload you can test the circuit breaker by using a clamping ammeter. This circuit breaker tester is used to check overloads and shorts that are in progress and determine whether the electric current is running through the circuit.How do I tell why a breaker is tripping? ›
To help determine what caused the problem, unplug all the items on the circuit before resetting the breaker. After it's reset and rested for a few minutes, turn on or plugin items, one at a time, to determine what may have caused the overload.