Circuit Breaker / Safety Switch Tripped - Troubleshooting

Dealing with tripping safety switches and circuit breakers can be frustrating and inconvenient. Whether you're in the middle of an important task or trying to relax at home, sudden power disruptions can disrupt your workflow and daily routine. Understanding why safety switches and circuit breakers trip is crucial to maintaining the electrical safety of your premises.

This troubleshooting guide will explore the common causes behind safety switches and circuit breaker tripping in switchboards. We'll delve into the various factors that can lead to these electrical interruptions, helping you diagnose the issue and potentially resolve it without needing professional assistance.

If you are unsure or uncomfortable with any step, it's best to consult a licensed electrician to ensure safety and compliance.

How do I check my Switchboard for a trip?
  1. Locate your switchboard: It is usually found in a utility area, basement, garage, or near the main electrical meter.
  2. Open the switchboard panel: Use caution and ensure your hands are dry. Remove the cover of the switchboard panel by unscrewing or flipping open any latches.
  3. Inspect the switches or breakers: Look for any switches or breakers that are in the "off" or middle position. These are typically safety switches or circuit breakers.
  4. Reset the switches or breakers: If you find any switches or breakers in the "off" or middle position, flip them to the "on" position. This resets the tripped switch or breaker.
  5. Test the power: After resetting the switches or breakers, check if power has been restored to the affected areas. If not, there may be another underlying issue that requires professional attention.
What can I do if my switchboard keeps tripping?
Below we go through some things you can try if your switchboard continues to trip after moving it to the on position.
  • Reduce the load: Check if you have multiple high-power appliances running simultaneously and try unplugging some to reduce the electrical load.
  • Inspect for faulty appliances: Disconnect any recently added appliances one at a time to identify if a specific device is causing the trips. You should disconnect each device/appliance and then test turning on the switch to identify which device is causing the issue. If you disconnect and unplug all devices on a circuit and the switchboard stays in the on position, one of the disconnected appliances is most likely causing the issue.
  • Inspect the area: If a certain area is tripping, check any appliances or devices in this area of your home. Make sure that there are no exposed wires or damaged switches which could be causing an electrical issue. If you discover any issues, do not attempt to repair them yourself.


Common Causes of Trips

There are several potential reasons why your switchboard circuit breakers may be tripping repeatedly. By identifying the underlying cause, you can take appropriate action to rectify the issue. Here are some common culprits:

Overloaded Circuit

Plugging in too many electrical devices or appliances on a single circuit can overload it, causing the circuit breaker to trip. This typically occurs when the combined electrical load exceeds the circuit's amperage rating.

Short Circuit
A short circuit happens when a "hot" wire (carrying current) comes into direct contact with a neutral or ground wire or when wires of different phases touch each other. This can occur due to damaged insulation, loose connections, or faulty appliances.
Ground Faults
Similar to a short circuit, a ground fault occurs when a "hot" wire comes into contact with a ground wire or a conductive surface. Ground faults often arise from damaged wiring, faulty equipment, or moisture intrusion.
Faulty Appliances or Equipment
A malfunctioning or defective appliance or equipment connected to the circuit can cause the circuit breaker to trip. This could be due to internal wiring issues, a motor seizing up, or a damaged component.
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