Why do Circuit Breakers Trip?

Let’s talk about circuit breakers, and we can show you how simple it is to reset these breakers. However, these complex devices monitor and protect circuits. Before moving to the various types, they discuss the sizes of different breakers. In this article, we will show you how to test breakers to make sure they work properly.

Circuit breakers are used to protect appliances and people from electrical currents. But few people know why they work and what their purpose is.

Breakers Protect Circuits

The electrical service panel is where electricity flows when it enters the house. The electrical service panel controls the flow of electricity through the house. Each branch is controlled by a circuit breaker. The breaker will trip if a branch becomes overloaded or heats up.

Breaker Sizes

There are two types of house breakers: the 15 amp and the 20 amp. Each breaker requires a different size wire to be able to handle the amp rating. For 15-amp breakers, a 14-gauge wire is required. 20-amp breakers need a 12-gauge.

How they work

A 15-amp circuit breaker will not trip if it experiences an amp spike of more than 15 amps. These breakers are able to allow temporary spikes because many devices draw more power upon startup. The breaker will trip if it senses an increase in amperage that is not normal. This will prevent the circuit from overheating.


There are several types of breakers that provide additional protection beyond circuit overload protection. These include GFCI and relatively new AFCI breakers.

Ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) breakers must experience the same current going out and coming back through the circuit. A drop in the return current indicates that the circuit is experiencing a leakage, regardless of whether it is from water or people. The GFCI will trip immediately if this happens.

The arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers detect when a circuit, a device or an appliance is arcing. This is the current jumping from one circuit to another or onto someone else. The breaker trips instantly if it detects an arc signature. Although these breakers look very similar to GFCI breakers in appearance, they are becoming a code requirement in most places.

How to Test Breakers

Inspectors, electricians, homeowners, and others can test their breakers. Users can plug in a device to replicate an error. These devices are called AFCI/GFCI testers and can either trip the breaker or reproduce an arc fault or ground, triggering it. This is the best way to make sure that your breaker is functioning properly.

When should you call a professional?

Call a professional if a circuit keeps tripping or if you suspect it is. An electrician can diagnose the problem and ensure that your circuit breakers are working safely.


Heath explains the purpose of the circuit breaker, how they trip, and what it does to protect a home. A circuit breaker is an electrical device that controls the ability of power to be sent through an electrical circuit. It is located in the panel. Heath explained that this ability can be controlled by a switch. It can be operated manually, such as when someone wants to cut off the power, or automatically like a trip breaker.

He said that a breaker could trip due to power overloads, current leaks, and arcs. A power overload is when a device calls for more power than the receptacle or circuit can provide. Current leaks are when current is unable to flow through a circuit due to moisture. Arcs can occur when wires become brittle over time, but also for other causes such as animals chewing wires or other decay.

We recommend that a licensed electrician diagnose the problem if a particular receptacle is constantly tripping the circuit breaker. This will ensure safety.

Contact Us Today!

expert lighting and sign technicians near me in Peoria, IL
Contact Us for A Free Estimate
Call Now