Why Do Electrical Circuit Breakers Trip?


Circuit breakers are crucial electrical appliances for every building including residential, commercial and industrial property. Circuit breakers can either be manual or automated. The devices mainly serve as protectors for your electrical systems and appliances. Whenever a building experiences electrical power surges or supply of excessive power, the circuit breaker is designed to trip. Tripping refers to the process of automatically cutting off the power to prevent it from reaching your electrical appliances.

Without circuit breakers, several buildings could be disasters waiting to happen. In fact, these devices play an important role in preventing dangers like electrical fires that can impact serious losses. Whenever a circuit breaker trips, it has to be manually switched on to bring the power back. The circuit breaker contains the main switches to all the power outlets in a building, which makes them more convenient in ensuring safety from electrical fires. Occasional circuit breaker tripping is normal but, if the issue occurs frequently, it could mean some serious trouble in the wiring or other structural and technical components.

Despite the frequency of occurrence, there are various reasons why circuit breaker tripping happens.

Key reasons why circuit breakers trip.

Short circuit

Short circuits are among the most common electrical safety hazards that many people do not really know about.  In power outlets, the hot wires and neutral wires are separately attached and should always remain that way. However, sometimes, wiring problems in electrical outlets can make the wires to become loose or detached from their terminals, and accidentally touch each other. Such actions trigger more electrical power exceeding the limits of the circuit, creating short circuits. As a result, the circuit breaker will instantly shut down the entire electrical system to avoid incidences of fire and damage to appliances.

Apart from loose, faulty or damaged wiring, burning smells from the power points could also suggest short circuits. Black or brown discolorations around the terminals are also clear indications of short circuits that should never be ignored.

Power overload

Perhaps, this is the main reason behind the frequent tripping of circuit breakers in homes and businesses across Singapore. As it suggests, a power overload happens whenever an outlet is subjected to excessive amounts of electric current than it is made to carry. It basically suggests overworking the power outlets. An example is connecting a 20 amps TV to a 15 amps circuit. Since the circuit is only designed to carry 15 amps, the excess 5 amps will no doubt cause overheating on not only circuit but, might also extend to the appliance. To avoid that from occurring, the circuit breaker will automatically trip.

Overloads can be self inflicted by homeowners whenever the circuits are jammed with lots of appliances. In such instances, you can simply disconnect some appliances that are idle. Besides, you may also consider installing additional circuits or upgrading the electrical system in case you will need to use several appliances at once. However, overloads can also be caused by external elements, especially during power failures. Whenever blackouts occur, many buildings experience power surges as the lights come back on. If your circuit breaker trips due to a power surge after a blackout, it will automatically switch back on in a few seconds. You can also get down to the circuit breaker and manually turn the power on.

Ground issues

These are almost similar to short circuits and, can also make your circuit breakers to trip. While ground issues also result from the accidental contact between separately attached electrical wires in power outlets, the wires in this case are the hot wires and ground wires. Sometimes, ground faults can also be experienced when the hot wires come into contact with the metallic structural parts of the power outlets. Both actions generate excessive heat in the circuit, leading to the tripping of the circuit breaker. Recurring ground issues can easily start electrical fires and cost you a lot in terms of electrical repair and replacement.

Constantly tripping circuit breakers are a significant threat that should be immediately diagnosed and resolved by a licensed electrician. At Electrical Service Singapore, we provide professional circuit breaker installation, troubleshooting, repair, upgrade and replacement.