Home Wiring 101: Dealing with Circuit Breakers and Fuses
By: Barbara Johnson
How to Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker
When a breaker trips or a fuse blows, it’s usually due to a power surge beyond the rated amperage of the breaker or fuse. This could be the result of:
- An overloaded circuit with too many electrical devices on it.
- Faulty wiring, such as a short in a wire or a connection that’s loose.
- Short in an appliance, light fixture, lamp, or other electrical device.
- Lightning or a power surge from the main line leading into the house.
It’s also possible that the circuit breaker or fuse itself is defective and needs to be replaced.
It’s important not to repeatedly reset a circuit breaker or replace a fuse, since it’s usually a sign of a problem with the wiring which needs to be fixed to prevent a fire or electrical shock.
To reset a tripped circuit breaker:
- Turn Off Electrical Devices: If the breaker tripped because the circuit was overloaded, turn off or unplug any electrical devices on the circuit before resetting the breaker to prevent it from tripping again.
- Locate Tripped Breaker: The switch on a tripped breaker will be near the off position or between the on and off settings.
- Turn Breaker Off: Switch the breaker completely to the off position (away from the center of the panel box).
- Turn Breaker On: Flip the breaker back to the on position (toward the center of the panel box).
- Test Circuit: Turn on a light fixture or lamp on the circuit to make sure the circuit has power.
If the circuit continues to trip, there is either a problem with the wiring that needs to be fixed or the breaker itself is defective and needs to be replaced.