With so much information available on the internet, you may think that Googling “How do I Repair my Circuit Breaker” is a great way to learn the ins and outs of DIY electrical repair. Before you dive into any type of DIY repairs, you first need to understand the basics. And, even then, you may still want to consider hiring a professional.
Your electrical system allows you to perform everyday activities in your home such as light rooms, heat water for bathing, run an electric dryer, control your indoor temperature, and cook on an electric stove top. We give little thought to the wiring that conducts electricity whenever we turn on our hair dryer or flip a switch. And yet it is an essential system that provides us all the comforts of home.
Even though the electrical system is technically all connected, the actual network is broken up into smaller sections called circuits. Circuits jobs are to ensure that when we turn on all the lights, the house gets the right amount of power to both cook a dinner and light up the living room. When too much power draws through a power cord, the breaker could overheat and cause an electrical fire that could severely damage your home.
The electrical panel, sometimes called a breaker box, is where the circuits live. Each circuit has a specified switch in the panel, known as a breaker. While many electrical issues affect the entire system, others simply impact a single circuit breaker.
The fact is circuit breakers can wear out and need to be replaced. Let’s examine symptoms of a bad circuit breaker.
If the circuit Is in the “on” position, but there’s no power to your outlets, that is a breaker trip. One of the first signs of an issue within the electrical panel is frequent circuit breaker trips. This may happen every time you turn on the microwave or switch on a bathroom light. A breaker trip may be accompanied by an audible click or pop before the power to a specific room or section of your home shuts off.
The reason for a circuit to trip is to prevent potentially dangerous electrical overloads that could damage your system or create hazardous conditions. Be aware that if there’s a specific circuit that seems to trip constantly, you have a bigger issue.
You will need the help of an electrician to establish if these frequent trips have occurred due to a failing circuit. There are other reasons for frequent breaker trips such as a wiring issue, or the need for an additional circuit to distribute your home’s electrical load. Regardless, it is advised to call in a professional to evaluate the situation.
When you touch any surface in your electrical panel, the materials should all be approximately the same temperature. However, if a single circuit has begun to fail, that circuit and the material around it could become hot to the touch. If a circuit breaker feels warm, call an emergency electrician before attempting to reset the circuit breaker.
How else can you tell if the breaker is bad? Use your nose. It is a good idea to sniff around and see if you smell a burning odor coming from the panel. If so, that means the wires and insulation have become overheated.
Keep track of how long you have had to consistently reset a tripped breaker. Has it been over a week? Months? After a long period of having to reset the circuit breaker you may notice it does not stay on long. This is a warning sign that the breaker has failed. You should hire an electrician to check the entire circuit. He’ll be able to diagnose it and ensure no further damage was done to the wiring.
Seeing burn marks around your circuit breaker, electrical outlets or other electrical appliances? Then that means the wiring has melted and is inadequate. It is also an indication that your electrical panel breaker needs immediate service. A melted wire is one bad step away from your whole home lighting on fire. This is a very serious situation. Immediately unplug all the fixtures from the breaker and call a professional.
Circuit breakers are built to last for decades. However, if you’re not regularly checking your breaker or haven’t had it inspected in a while, then it could very well be failing without you knowing it. Old age is another reason a circuit breaker may need to be replaced. Having an electrician inspect your panel is a wise investment, especially for those of you who haven’t done so in the past decade.
A bad circuit breaker can mean the inconvenience of having to walk to the breaker box to flip the circuit switch. However, be on the lookout for other potentially dangerous situations such as scorch marks around plus and appliances, burning smells, surface areas that are hot to the touch. These issues require the care of a professional electrician.
DIY electrical repairs always come with a fair amount of risk. Not only is there the risk of shock, but if you were to repair something incorrectly then it could cause serious problems down the road. What you really should ask yourself is “Should Someone Else Repair My Circuit Breaker?” If you’re not experienced in electrical repairs, then hiring someone who has experience may be a better option.