An appliance that consistently trips your circuit breaker is not only annoying, it could be the sign of a bigger problem. The most likely reasons for this problem are an overloaded circuit, overheated appliance, electrical short, or ground fault issue. Each of these problems has several potential causes, so troubleshooting the specific issue can quickly become complex and frustrating.
Regardless of the cause, your tripped circuit breaker is telling you something: A breaker that consistently trips is the sign of an issue that, if not promptly addressed, could cause a fire or electrical shock.
Let’s walk through a few simple steps that can help determine the source of the problem. Once you identify the source, you can safely resolve it with the help of an expert or two.
An Overheating Appliance
When an appliance overheats, it may cause the breaker to trip. The first potential cause of an overheating appliance is user error, such as overloading a clothes dryer. Think about the main appliances on the circuit you’re having trouble with. Have you used one of your appliances more frequently lately? Does the appliance get very hot when in use?
If you’ve been using your appliances correctly, it could be overheating for another reason. For example, a vent is blocked, a component has worn out, or there’s an electrical short somewhere.
Ultimately, if you suspect your appliance is overheating, reach out to Mr. Appliance®, and we’ll run a full assess and maintenance check of the unit for you. If your appliance doesn’t appear to be overheating, move on to the next troubleshooting step.
Related Topic: Is It Bad If My House Lights Dim When I Turn on Appliances?
An Overloaded Circuit
When your breaker panel is too small to handle the electrical load, or when you don’t have enough dedicated home appliance circuits, it causes the circuit to be overloaded. To check if this is the problem, and to troubleshoot further, unplug everything on the circuit (that is, anything that turns on or off when you flip the breaker on and off). Switch the frequently tripped breaker to the OFF position and then back to ON. Then plug your appliances and electronics back in, one at a time. Stop this process immediately if you see any damage to wall outlets or external wires.
This process can help identify the appliance(s) that are the cause of the problem, especially if only one appliance seems to trip the breaker to the off position. However, this process can also leave you even more confused—and obsessively repeating the process in a different order.
Ultimately, the safest and quickest way to fix an electrical circuit problem is to reach out to a trusted local electrician, like Mr. Electric®. Just like Mr. Appliance, they’re a reliable Neighborly® experts, who specializes in adding circuits and upgrading electrical systems.
An Electrical Short (in the Appliance or Elsewhere)
An electrical short circuit can be in an outlet, a switch, or inside an appliance. These are the main electrical shorts that can cause an appliance to frequently trip a circuit breaker:
When a hot and neutral wire touch it creates an overload of current and heat.
Wires are damaged or severed (e.g., from rodent damage).
Components in the appliance or electrical system that are damaged or loose.
When an appliance repair expert like Mr. Appliance is diagnosing an electrical short problem within an appliance, they not only look for visible damage to wires and parts, they’ll also test outlets in different parts of the home to determine whether the short circuit is occurring within the appliance or at the outlet or switch.
Related Topic: Appliance Electrical Testing Equipment and Steps
A Ground Fault
A ground fault is a specific type of short circuit that occurs when a hot wire (current flowing through it) touches a grounded part of a switch box, appliance, or bare ground wire. This event causes the breaker and GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets to trip. Ground faults may occur due to a water leak, wire damage, or appliance damage.
Because ground faults can be a dangerous indicator that water and electricity are making contact, it’s highly recommended that you leave all the troubleshooting and repair work to a licensed electrician.
After the electrician has come and gone, you’ll likely need more help if a water leak is present:
Your local Mr. Rooter® expertly resolves many types of plumbing leaks.
Rainbow International® Restoration is the industry leader in water damage restoration services.
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