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How to Test a Circuit Breaker That Keeps Tripping?

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If the circuit breaker becomes in a faulty condition, it keeps tripping again and again. The whole area will be gone in a dark situation, and one would not perform any task as the world is entered in the modern zone where you can't perform anything without electricity. 

Circuit breakers mostly expired after a quarter-century passed. In this situation, it is suggested to test the circuit breaker to check why a circuit breaker keeps tripping. Further, you may prevent any severe condition due to this fault of the circuit breaker.

Here we have compiled the details and the easy method of how to test a circuit breaker that keeps tripping. So, this article will be helpful for those technicians who are finding the best way of checking a bad circuit breaker.

Why Would a Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?

If circuit breakers keep tripping, there must be some reasons behind it. Below we've highlighted some significant issues to get the information and examine why a circuit breaker would keep tripping.

Short Circuit:

A short circuit is the most common issue that happens mostly and becomes the bad circuit breaker. This short circuit can occur in a switch, outlet, or appliance due to the touching of two wires. 

Overloaded Circuit:

An overloaded circuit is another leading cause of the bad circuit breaker. It happens when the system or circuit encounters a load greater than its tendency. When the circuit breaker gets overloaded, it also becomes the reason for the bad circuit breaker. It can damage the whole electrical system, including wirings. 

Ground Circuit:

This condition is also known as the reason for facing a bad circuit breaker. It happens when the hot cables and the bare ground gets in touch with the box. Due to this ground circuit issue, you may face a damaging outlet issue.

How Does a Circuit Breaker Work?

To check or replace a bad circuit breaker, it is essential to know how a circuit breaker works. 

A circuit breaker performs the work to ensure the protection of the electric circuit. It is like an electric switch that becomes on and off to allow and restrict the current flow to the appliances. It controls the flow to voltage and allows a reasonable rate of voltage to pass through it to the devices. 

The size of the electric circuit breaker may vary and depends on the building's requirement for electricity.

How to Test a Circuit Breaker That Keeps Tripping?

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1. Testing a Circuit Breaker with a Multimeter:

To identify the problem of the bad circuit breaker, technicians are required to perform checks on a circuit breaker that keeps tripping, the steps to test a circuit breaker is listed below:

  • First of all, you need to switch off all the appliances that perform tasks by getting the voltages from the circuit that keeps tripping. Ensure you have switched off all the appliances and no one is connected with the breaker directly or indirectly.
  • Now, you need to open the circuit breaker by unlocking the screws of the box where the circuit breaker is located. 
  • Remove all the screws carefully and keep them safe to use them again to close the circuit breaker.
  • Now, you are allowed to turn on the multimeter to perform the test.
  • Connect the probes of the multimeter. 
  • Make sure you have connected the black probe with the port where the “COMMON” is mentioned. At the same time, the red probe should be connected with the port where the “V” is written. If you don't find the letter “V,” you can see the symbol “Ω.”

NOTE: Make sure there is no damaging issue with the wires of a multimeter.  

  • You need to hold the red probe from the covered side. Then touch the meta side of the probe with the screw on the right or left side of the circuit breaker.
  • Like the above, hold the black probe from the covered side and touch it with the neutral box.

NOTE: If you are testing the double pole breaker, it is needed to touch the black probe with the second screw.

  • Notice the readings that the multimedia has recorded.
  • Now it's time to check and understand the readings. 

If you have noticed the reading 0, then you need to replace the circuit breaker right away to prevent it from tripping. If the multimeter has shown a reading of about 120 Volt, it means the circuit has no issue if it is a single pole. While for the double pole circuit breaker, if the readings are  220 to 250 Volt, then the circuit breaker is fine. 

2. Circuit Overload Test

Mostly when the circuit breaker gets up to 40 years in use, this issue happens. The overloading of the voltages occurs in the circuit breaker when it gets tired. Now it's time to replace the circuit breaker. This condition results in automatic power of the whole system of electricity, which goes on until it is replaced. Just replacement is the solution to this condition. 

A circuit breaker that keeps tripping, again and again, can cause damage issues for the appliances, like T.V, Computers, or other machines. So, it is recommended to the technicians to replace the electric circuit that is overloaded.

To test this type of overloaded circuit breaker, you need to switch off all the appliances and then turn on the circuit breaker. After turning on the circuit breaker, you need to turn on the appliances and notice when the circuit breaker trips. If the circuit breaker trips before switching on the appliances, it is confirmed that the electric circuit needs to be replaced. 

3. Check Short Circuit

If you are facing electric circuit issues, and you noticed that there is a problem with the short circuit in the wires, you are recommended to test the electric circuit.

You can check the electric circuit by following a very easy method. First of all, you have to switch on the electric circuit. Then, switch on the appliance that you have noticed that by turning on this specific appliance, the electric circuit breaker gets tripped. When you switch on the appliance, the circuit breaker will become tripped again. It is proved that there is a short circuit problem with the circuit breaker.

You can also run this test by turning on the appliances one by one if you're unsure which device is causing trouble.  

FAQ's

What is the lifespan of a circuit breaker?

The electric circuit breaker is a mechanical device used to control the voltages and allow the flow of current to the appliances. It gets affected by the environment, abnormal voltages, and other factors. So, mainly the lifespan of the electric circuit breakers is 30 to 40 years. After 30 to 40 years, it expires and needs to be replaced