How Do You Know If a Breaker Needs to be Replaced

Updated: Mar 23

Well, your circuit breaker in your house tripped, and now it doesn't work anymore. You have tried resetting it, but it just trips again or doesn't seem to do anything. Here Are the things that you should be looking at to see if you need a replacement.


circuit breaker reset

Identify What Was On The Circuit Breaker


This seems like an obvious place to start. Put on you detective cap and see if you can solve the mystery! First start by checking at the electrical panel and see if the circuit breaker is labelled. This might be your first clue as to what is wrong.


Secondly, check to see what size of circuit breaker tripped, It should indicate on the breaker itself by having a quick look. Common sizes of circuit breakers are 15,20,30,40,and 60. Some examples of common household electrical circuits include:

  • 15 amp circuits - common uses include refrigerator, lights and general purpose plugs, hood fan, specialty plugs, nook plugs, sump pumps, Christmas plug, outdoor plugs, older style kitchen counter plugs, small heaters

  • 20 amp circuits - modern kitchen plugs ac units, smaller heaters

  • 30 amp circuits - dryer plugs

  • 40 amp circuits - stove plugs

  • 60 amp circuits - sub panel, detached garages

* Please note that this is not a comprehensive list, as every house is different, built in different years, and to different codes. It is only meant as a general guide.


Hopefully by either recognizing what breaker tripped or reading the label you know what has tripped by this point. Now it is time to move on to figuring out whether or not the breaker needs to be replaced.


How to Figure Out Whether You Need a New Breaker

  1. Check for Overloading Conditions - If you know what tripped, look for signs of burning or melting at the electrical device or outlet. If the electric item is damaged, then more than likely you have had an equipment or device failure. Unplug or disconnect the device to see if the breaker holds. If it holds, then you know all you need to replace is the damaged electrical item.

  2. If The Breaker Still Turns On - If the breaker turns on, and there is no power at the turned off electrical item, it is likely that the breaker has failed internally. You will have to confirm this with the use of an AC multi-meter. If you are not comfortable with electricity, please contact your local electrician to do this for you

  3. Use Your Nose - If you can smell something that is burnt inside the electrical panel this is likely a sign that the circuit breaker has failed and needs replacement

  4. The Breaker Had Tripped Before - If this breaker has been tripping a lot for whatever reason and no longer resets. Inside most common breakers there is a bimetallic strip that touches when it trips. Over time the strips wear out and the breaker no longer works.

  5. Its Just Really Old - Like anything else in this world, things get old and break, including circuit breakers. Having an electrician inspect your panel is a wise investment to check the condition of your electrical system. Who knows, you might need more than just the circuit breaker replaced.

  6. If The Breaker Still Trips - If the breaker still trips and you cannot identify what is tripping, you probably need someone else to investigate for you further. Consult with your local electrician and he might be able to help you out!

If you need help replacing your circuit breaker or any other electrical needs Contact Firestorm Electrical Services today at (587) 434-8939 for a free quote!

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