What Causes a Circuit Breaker to Trip?
Circuit breakers are designed to trip during an emergency. Circuit breakers trip when there is too much electricity flowing through them or when they can no longer handle the excess current load. The breakers trip to turn off the power and cut off the flow of electricity to avoid problems that might exacerbate and cause more damage. There are a few reasons that this can happen, but it usually boils down to three situations:
1. Ground Fault Surges
The first cause of a breaker trip is a ground fault, which happens when it detects that current is flowing along an unintended path. GF detection is available in two types for permanent installation: The Circuit Breaker type that installs in the circuit breaker itself (trip unit or solid-state device), and the external type which is mounted external and communicates with the breaker.
2. Short Circuit
A serious reason for breaker trips is a short circuit. A short circuit is an abnormal connection between two nodes of an electric circuit intended to be at different voltages. It can also happen when a hot wire touches another hot or neutral wire. This causes circuit damage, overheating, fire or Arc flash. Because of the various reasons for a short circuit, it can be difficult to determine what is going wrong and how to fix it and be very dangerous. If you believe you have a short, do not run power to that circuit until a professional has looked at it.
3. Overloaded Circuit
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. The circuit breaker realizes this and shuts off the flow of electricity, which breaks the circuit. Some other signs of an overloaded circuit situation include melted plastic housing, corroded wires, burning smells, hot hardware, and loose wires.
While there are three primary reasons for circuit breakers to trip, each is a unique situation and must be handled differently. This is a situation where hiring a professional may be to your best bet. Coastal Power Systems is here to help you with all your electrical needs, and prevent a dangerous situation.