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When the Space Heater Trips the Circuit Breaker

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Space Heater Trips the Circuit BreakerWhen a space heater trips the circuit breaker, that is a warning signal for you.  You need to look at the situation and determine why it is tripped, or call a professional.  We recently received a customer question about this, so here are a few tips on how to handle it yourself.

Overheating the Circuit

There are a couple of reasons why it happens.  The most likely reason is that the heater is drawing too much current and overheating that circuit.  This can be dangerous so the breaker shuts off to protect you.  A second reason is that you might have too many other appliances on the circuit.  And, a third reason is that the circuit breaker might just be old and weak, in need of replacement.  There are other conditions that could cause it, but these are most common.

Determining the Problem

The first thing to do when a space heater trips the circuit breaker is to see if you are running the heater on the highest level.  Most heaters have 2 settings for watts used.  If your has that, reset the breaker and try to use it at the lower level.   It might work fine on LOW heat (without tripping) but not on HIGH heat.   If it trips again, look for another reason.

What other electrical appliances are plugged into that same circuit? Are you using a lamp or a sewing machine or a hair dryer near by?  Each appliance draws some current, so the total current they are drawing might be too much for that circuit.  Try unplugging them and see if the heater works alone.   You should not be using two heating devices, such as a space heater and a curling iron at the same time on a circuit.

You can also try moving the space heater to a different outlet.   It’s not easy to tell which outlets are on which circuits, but if you find an outlet where it works without tripping, at least you’ll know the heater is not defective.

Recognize the Warning

Finally, if the breaker continues to trip, do not continue to reset it multiple times.  The breaker is giving you a warning every time it trips.   You need to contact a professional who will look for another cause.

Since 1975, Frye Electric has been providing excellent service at reasonable prices.  We service the Indianapolis area and have a great reputation.  When you need a professional electrician, give us a call!


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