The circuit breaker is an important part of your electrical circuit. It’s more than just a means of turning the power on and off to a specific circuit. Circuit breakers are extremely sensitive to any drop in voltage and will switch off in less than a second if the voltage changes or current short circuits across the wires.
This makes them an essential safety stage, in short, they can actually save your life.
If a circuit breaker trips then the normal thing to do is to reset it and carry on, but, sometimes this isn’t an option. Every time you try to put the switch into the on position it will simply flick off again.
Your first reaction may be that the breaker is faulty and you need your local level 2 electrician to come and replace it. While it’s a good idea to have an electrician ready, a circuit breaker that won’t reset is not necessarily faulty.
Before you call the electrician it’s worth checking a few things yourself, the breaker may just be doing its job!
Unload the Circuit
A breaker can trip because there has been too much draw on one circuit. This can be because you have too many appliances plugged in or you’re trying to use something that pulls more volts than the breaker allows.
The first thing to do is unplug everything on the circuit and see if the breaker will reset.
If it doesn’t then you may have an issue with the breaker. But, it will probably reset. You can then start plugging devices in again.
The breaker will probably trip when you plug a specific item in. If this happens, unplug everything and start again, with the item that made it trip.
If it trips again, then the item you’re plugging in has a fault. If it trips after a few things have been plugged in then you’re probably overloading the circuit and need to plug something into a different circuit.
Should you have discovered a faulty appliance you can verify this by plugging it into a different circuit, a different breaker should trip.
Replace The Breaker
When you’ve tied the above and none of it makes any difference then you either have developed a wiring fault or have a bad breaker.
Replacing the breaker is surprisingly simple, but, you’ll need to remember that the bus bar inside your terminal may remain live, even with the power turned off. If you’re going to do it yourself you’ll need to remove the breaker from the bus bars with pliers, to avoid getting a shock. You can then safely remove the outgoing connections and swap the circuit breaker.
That’s why you may prefer to get an electrician to help. Equally, if there is a fault in the line then an electrician will be able to run the necessary tests to determine the fault, they can then fix it.
Don’t forget, a blown light bulb can blow a circuit breaker. If turning your light switch on causes the breaker to shut off try replacing the bulb before you turn it back on.