We all know that feeling when you’re just sitting down to enjoy a meal or a favourite television show and “click!” All the lights go off, appliances shut down and electronics go dark. It’s the obvious sign of a tripped breaker, but don’t worry, you don’t have to sit in the dark.
It’s frustrating, but when a breaker trips it is not the end of the world. It happens because of a surge of power, which occurs when there is a sharp spike in your home or business’s electrical current, or when the current is stopped and then started again. A tripped breaker can happen for several reasons, and in some cases can severely damage appliances and electronics.
Most power surges originate from inside the house, most commonly when an electrical appliance is turned on. These are generally small in scale, however a number of them over time can cause electrical degeneration. Less common (but far more powerful) surges originate from outside the home, such as when lightning strikes, a power line goes down, or an animal gets into a transformer.
Steps to Take When the Lights Go Off
Fortunately, a tripped breaker is pretty easy to “fix.” Unfortunately, it may be a sign of something more serious, such as faulty or inadequate wiring or an older or insufficient electrical panel.
When a breaker trips, follow these steps:
- Turn off all the lights, electronics and appliances working off of that particular circuit. When you turn the breaker back on, it’s best to not have anything drawing power. Turning the breaker on will cause a surge, so having everything off will help protect your appliances, fixtures, and electronics. Gaming systems and computers are especially susceptible to harm from surges.
- At your electrical panel, find the switch for the tripped breaker. Search for the one facing a different direction than all the others, or in the “off” position. Many breaker switches are marked with a red or orange colour when they are off.
- Flip the switch back to the “on” position.
- Turn your lights, appliances, and electronics back on one by one.
If the breaker trips again, it’s time to call in an expert like A-Star Electric. We think of your electrical system as integral to your day-to-day life, and believe in ensuring everything is running as efficiently as possible. That may mean reconfiguring your circuits, upgrading your electrical panel, or replacing faulty wiring.
Reasons Why a Breaker Trips
A breaker usually trips because of general wear and tear to your electrical system, and if this happens often it will need to be replaced. Reasons why circuit breakers wear out are because of:
- Short circuits. When a hot wire comes into contact with a neutral wire in an outlet or a fixture casing, this will cause an overload of current flow, or what is also known as a short circuit. The overload causes heat, which can start an electrical fire. Breakers are developed to sense situations like these and should automatically shut off to help avoid a fire.
- An overloaded circuit. If your electrical system is older or the circuits were not set up properly they will not be able to handle the amount of amps coming through. This will cause the breaker to trip. Overloaded circuits can also cause electrical fires. We can add additional circuits to help circumvent this problem.
- Ground faults. Ground faults happen when a hot wire and a bare ground wire are both touching the metal box holding them, which sets off a chain reaction that thrusts more electricity through a circuit than it’s actually meant to hold. This will cause a breaker to trip. More than often, ground faults will ruin outlets.
Contact A-Star Electric for Your Home and Business Electrical Needs
Do the breakers keep tripping in your home or at your business? We at A-Star Electric are certified journeyman or apprentice electricians who can mitigate the problem and will take the time and care necessary to create an electrical system that will work for you on all levels. Contact us for a service inquiry today.