Handling a Tripped Breaker

If you have ever had a problem in your home with a tripped breaker or a blown fuse, this post should help you figure out what’s going on.   The answer may be as simple as an overloaded circuit or a faulty electrical appliance.  You might think that resetting the breaker is a pain, but the breaker device is really protecting you and your family by alerting you to a problem you may not have noticed any other way. 

Think of it as a safety alarm, not a nuisance.   If we didn’t have these protective items in our homes, the electrical wiring could overload and heat up, leading to a fire.   If you have a tripped breaker, something caused a problem in that circuit.  Here are some simple steps to find it safely.  If you are not comfortable doing this, call an electrician and let them investigate the cause.  We also have a video available if you’d prefer to watch that instead of reading the rest of this post.

When the lights go out, the first step to head to your electrical panel (with a flashlight) so you can check the breakers.  Open the door and look at the position of the breakers.  They should be all in the same direction (ON) down each side of the box.  You can run your hand down the column of breakers to see if they are all aligned or if one is out of alignment.   When you find one that is not fully ON, you have probably found the circuit that has the problem.  

Now you should look at the legend (panel schedule) which is pasted on the inside of the door.  Hopefully, it will give you the circuit number and some text that explains what each circuit does (furnace, dishwasher, master bathroom, etc.)  Now you can reset the breaker to see if it trips again or if it stays on. 

  • If the circuit trips again, go into the home and unplug everything that is plugged into it.   For instance, if it’s a living room circuit, unplug all the lamps, the TV, and other items.   Then reset the breaker to see if it stays on this time.  If it does not reset and stay on, you may have a wiring problem and should call an electrician for assistance.
  • If it stays on, try plugging in one device at a time to test each one, like each lamp.  If the breaker does not trip, that device is probably OK, and you can repeat the process to test the next device.  When the circuit does trip, you have found the problem.  Maybe it has a short inside the device or the cord is faulty, but you should stop using that device until it is repaired.

A good rule of thumb is not to be scared of electricity, but to respect it.  However, if you are not comfortable doing this, call an electrician.  A simple short circuit today can lead to costly repairs later.   Don’t put off either finding the problem yourself or calling a professional.   

We’ve been in business over 35 years in central Indiana, so we’ve seen it all.  Give us a call at (317) 659-6899 and we’ll come out and find a solution for whatever electrical problem you have. 

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