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7 Signs You May Need to Replace a Circuit Breaker

In your everyday life, you likely only think about the surface level of your electrical system. This fundamental aspect of the system lets you light rooms, heat water for bathing, control your indoor temperature, and cook on an electric stove top.

Behind your power outlets and light switches, your electrical wiring creates a network that conducts energy throughout your home wherever it is needed to flip on a certain light or heat up a stove burner.

However, while your electrical system is technically all interconnected, the network is broken up into smaller sections called circuits. Circuits ensure that even with all the lights on, your range still gets enough consistent power for you to predict how a burner will operate as you cook dinner.

Your circuits are all connected to an electrical panel, sometimes called a breaker box. Each circuit has a designated switch in the panel, known as a breaker. While many electrical issues affect the entire system, others simply impact a single circuit breaker.

In this blog, we list seven indicators that you may need to upgrade a circuit breaker.






  1. Frequent Trips

Often the first sign of an issue within an electrical panel is frequent circuit breaker trips. During a typical trip, you may hear an audible click or pop before the power to a specific room or section of your home shuts off.

Circuits trip in order to prevent potentially dangerous electrical overloads that could damage your system or create hazardous conditions. However, if a specific circuit seems to trip constantly, you likely have a bigger issue.

You will need the help of an electrician to determine if these frequent trips have occurred due to a failing circuit, a wiring issue, or the need for an additional circuit to distribute your home’s electrical load.

  1. Hot Components

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.

  1. Inexplicable Trips

You may know that you’re headed toward a tripped circuit breaker when you overload the system by having the television playing, a fan running, several lights turned on, a gaming system going — and then you power up the vacuum cleaner.

However, if the frequent circuit breaker trips you are experiencing seem to happen when the system isn’t overloaded, this issue points to a bad breaker.

  1. Singed Areas

When electricity is not properly grounded and contained, sparks can fly as the power jumps between components. This phenomenon is one of the reasons that disconnected wires and other common electrical issues may lead to fires.

If your circuit breaker is failing due to a disconnection or similar issue, you may see areas that appear singed when you go to reset the breaker. Exercise caution when resetting this breaker and have the panel assessed as soon as possible.

  1. Tricky Resets

Circuit breakers are essentially switches that flip between on and off positions just like your light switches. When you reset a breaker, the process should be as simple as changing the switch’s position.

If the breaker flips back immediately, stays in the center, or won’t budge from the off position, have an electrician come to service the broken circuit breaker immediately.

  1. Unpleasant Odors

Electrical issues often come with distinct odors. If your breaker is severely damaged or has failed due to an issue that is encouraging sparks, you may smell something burning when you open your electrical panel.

Be careful when examining or resetting a circuit breaker that smells like this. Even if you don’t see evidence of sparks or feel any hot areas, schedule a service as soon as possible to have the breaker evaluated.

     7. Make Special Arrangements for Fragile Household Members

In a new electrical panel, the system wires would be hidden from sight. However, over time, electrical components can shift. This movement actually accounts for some wire disconnections and circuit breaker failures.

If you can see visible wires in your breaker box, look for any signs of damage. Fraying or unraveling points to serious potential electrical issues and supports the hypothesis that you have a damaged circuit breaker. In this situation, your electrician may need to provide some new wiring in addition to the circuit breaker replacement.

If you notice any combination of the indicators listed above, schedule an assessment from a qualified electrician as soon as possible. Failing circuits can cause a range of issues, from power loss at the most inconvenient of times to safety hazards like electrical fires.

Your electrician can determine the extent of the damage and whether any rewiring is necessary in addition to the circuit breaker replacement.

For comprehensive residential electrical services, including circuit breaker and electrical panel upgrades, trust A To Z Electric Co.

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