22 Sep Is It Dangerous If Your Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping?
The repeated act of your circuit breaker experiencing tripping is not inherently dangerous, but it is indicative of potentially big concerns within your household.
Hidden from your sight, may lie faulty appliances, damaged wiring or an over demand for electrical power. As such, it is important that you investigate the cause of a circuit breaker trip each time it happens.
In this article, we explain how your circuit breaker works, why it gets tripped and the potential dangers that can result if it is left unchecked.
What is a Circuit Breaker?
A circuit breaker is essentially a safety mechanism used to protect your home or office against circuit overloads or short circuits. This is managed by cutting off the flow of electricity in your circuit whenever current jumps above the safe level.
At which point, your home or office will experience a blackout with no appliances connected to their circuit receiving any electricity. Following this you will be required to reset the circuit to get electricity flowing again.
In order to learn about circuit breakers, you will need to first understand how electricity works in your home.
How does Household Electricity Work?
All buildings connected to your local powder distribution grid will receive electricity at a consistent voltage. However, the resistance (which affects current) varies depending on the appliances in used in the circuit. All electrical appliances offer different amounts of resistance, which is what allows the conversion of electrical energy into the appliance’s function.
If current were to exceed the safety levels of your circuit, the amount of charge flowing in it would overheat the wires and appliances. This could possibly cause a fire to break out.
How do Circuit Breakers Work?
2 things need to happen in order for a circuit breaker to achieve its purpose. Firstly, it requires a way of determining if the amount of current exceeds the safe levels of the circuit. Secondly, a component must exist to shut down electrical flow once this happens.
How do circuit breakers perform these 2 functions? The answer being it depends on the type of circuit breaker used in your home or office.
Fuse Based Circuit Breakers
The simplest type of circuit breaker that your home could have installed is the fuse. A fuse can be described as a thin wire that is enclosed in a casing and is connected to the circuit. When the circuit’s switch is turned on, all charge flows through the fuse, meaning that it experiences the same current as the rest of the circuit.
As a thin wire, the fuse will heat up and disintegrate when too much current passes through it. Once the wire is burnt, the circuit becomes broken meaning that no electrical energy can pass through it. This effectively prevents the excess current from damaging any other part of your home’s circuit wiring.
The only one drawback of fuses is that they are a disposable item, meaning that they only work once. Once a fuse is blown, it must be replaced with a new one.
Electromagnet Based Circuit Breakers
Electromagnet based circuit breakers perform the same function as fuses but can be used repeatedly. Essentially a switch of sorts, this type of circuit breaker consists of a hot wire which is connected to both ends of the switch and to an electromagnet. When in “on” position, the circuit breaker allows electricity to flow through the circuit.
However, when the current in the circuit jumps to unsafe levels, the electricity will sufficiently magnetize the electromagnet. Upon which, the electromagnet will be strong enough to pull down the switch, and removing its connection with the circuit. Once this is done, the circuit is broken, and no electricity and pass through it.
Why Does Your Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?
A number of different culprits could be responsible for your circuit breaker tripping on a regular basis.
Faulty or Damaged Appliances
Faulty electrical appliances tend to require more electricity to function. As such, their operation may cause a surge of power throughout the entire circuit. When this happens, your circuit breaker trips in order to prevent any other component of the circuit from overheating.
If you have old appliances that have wear and tear, it is recommended that you replace them. This will also help you to save on your electricity bills as newer models are typically more energy efficient.
Faulty appliances also pose the risk of exploding or burning up. As such, if you spot a pattern of appliance usage that causes the breaker to trip, we recommend carrying out a thorough inspection of its condition.
Both electrical wiring and its insulating materials can get worn out or damaged over time. This may be due to wear and tear, over heating or physical damage dealt to the wire. Once a wiring has been damaged, its resistance may drop thus allowing for surges in electricity to occur in your circuit.
Another big danger of damaged wiring is that the lack of insulation may expose the live wire to a multitude of other objects. For example, if it comes into contact with another worn out wire, a short circuit may occur. In which case, the current in the circuit will multiply way above the safety limit, causing your breaker to trip.
We strongly advise you to engage professional electrical contractors to carry out regular checks and maintenance on your home’s wiring. This will help you to avoid any unforeseen electrical fires in your home.
Using Too Many Appliances
Using too many high power consuming appliances can also cause a surge in electricity in your circuit. This is particularly so if you utilize a multiplug from a single power socket. In this arrangement, current increases rapidly and thus causes your breaker to trip.
We recommend avoiding turning on too many powerful appliances at once and limiting the number of devices connected to a multiplug.
Lightning in Your Neighbourhood
Finally, if your area is experiencing bad weather, you should attempt to lower your electricity usage. Each time lightning strikes your area, an electrical surge and voltage fluctuation will occur. This causes your breaker to trip in order to protect both your wiring and your appliances.
Furthermore, rainwater may also penetrate into power points, terminals outdoor fittings. Since water is an excellent conductor of electricity, a short circuit could be formed.
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