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How Can I Tell What Is Tripping My Circuit Breaker?

As the summer or winter months roll around, you probably start to experience more power outages than usual in your Northern Virginia home. In fact, these are the times of the year when the experts at John Nugent and Sons receive the most calls from the community. Your first option is to check the circuit breaker box. The rows and rows of switches make it almost impossible to guess which one is linked to which appliance, so naturally, most people just flip the switches that are out of alignment to get everything working again. However, we should warn you this doesn’t always solve your problem.

Flipping the Circuit Breaker Switch Doesn’t Always Work

Sometimes, it isn’t simply a matter of flipping the switches back on to get your power working again. If you reset the circuits, only to have the breaker trip again, it is likely that you have a problem that needs to be addressed by a qualified electrician. If there’s a burning smell coming from the box, then the lines are overloaded and you shouldn’t try to fix anything yourself. At John Nugent & Sons, our electricians are available around the clock for the residents of Northern Virginia when they need a certified electrician.

Steps to Trouble-Shooting Your Circuit Breaker Problem

The way that the appliances in your home are wired depends on how much power they draw. Power-hungry electric ranges might be connected to a dedicated circuit that draws a much larger current than smaller electric appliances like lights and outlets.

Of course, certain rooms tend to draw more power than others, which explains the layout of the circuit breaker box. If you plug in too many items into an outlet in a room that isn’t connected to a more dedicated circuit rating, then there’s a chance that the circuit breaker kicks in to protect the wires from overloading. In this case, troubleshooting is simple retrace your steps to find the offending appliance.

Our years of experience at John Nugent & Sons has taught us that in most cases, it’s a space heater during the winter, an air conditioning unit during the summer, or a hair dryer at any time during the year that causes the circuit breaker to activate.

Circuit Breaker Problems

If you determine that it isn’t simply a matter of a power-hungry appliance, then you may need to up the rating of a frequently-used circuit. For example, if a 15 amp circuit keeps tripping, then you may need to have it changed to a 20 amp to handle the expected load more easily. Of course, changing circuits should only be done by professional, certified electricians. Call at John Nugent & Sons today to schedule an appointment with one of our certified electricians. We have experience installing:

  • Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI breaker)– this is an exceptional circuit protector mechanism that monitors the amount of current flowing between its parts. If something goes minutely wrong, a sensor automatically trips the circuit to keep the wires from overheating and starting a house fire, or electrocuting the person using the appliance on the other end.
  • Arc-fault circuit interrupter (AFCI breaker)– the high-intensity heating caused by unexpected arcs can be dangerous to electrical components and people. An AFCI circuit breaker is an advanced protective mechanism that preempts these arcs by shutting off the electricity when arcing conditions are present.
  • Standard circuit breakers– available in most households.

Circuit breakers are there for your protection, so if you determine that they’re not working correctly, call us at John Nugent & Sons and we’ll have everything working properly in no time-703-291-1926!

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