What Does a Circuit Breaker Do?

Electricity and our access is a central focal point for what we do each and every day, but when it gets out of control things can get dangerous. That’s why circuit breakers have become such an essential part of your home or business, holding it all together.

Why is your circuit breaker important? As your automatic circuit protection system, it keeps a tight ship in keeping things safe. When circuits draw a greater electrical load than can actually carry, the circuit breaker trips. Overloaded circuits are caused when you have a number of high energy appliances plugged into a home outlet, such as your TV, your gaming console, your Christmas lights, your vacuum… and boom! The breaker trips because you asked a single circuit to do too much with what it has.

The circuit breaker is an incredible device that is key to electrical safety, especially in a state like Florida with its tropical storms and power outages. Faulty breakers increase the risk of fire hazards and blackouts and if it is run on bulbs or is decades old, you need to take a serious look at upgrading. We’re here to help!

What is a circuit breaker?

It’s an electrical switch that protects circuits from damage by interrupting current flow once a fault is detected. It’s saved properties and lives in detecting excess current, faulty conditions, and overheating. It’s installed in an electrical panel, or breaker box, either indoors or outdoors, and its outer mechanical body can grapple with any potential damages from tough environmental conditions it may face.

It’s designed to protect your electricity from damage caused by either overload or short circuit, and is automatically operated to discontinue its flow. Each circuit is attached to a singular breaker. The breaker monitors the circuit, and in the event of a complication, the breaker shuts off that circuit immediately.

It’s like a fuse in that it serves the same function. Unlike a traditional fuse, however, a circuit breaker doesn’t have to be replaced after one use, but can be manually or automatically reset to continue operating normally. It can be used and reused over and over again, until it eventually wears out over time.

Why is it important?

Circuit breakers have proven to save lives. Over 50% of electrical fires that occur annually can be prevented by circuit interrupters, while 47,000 home fires were caused by electrical malfunction in 2011. This leads to more than 1,400 injuries and nearly 500 deaths each in hme electrical fires.

In the United States, arcing faults initiate over 28,000 home fires each year, leading to more than $700 million in property damage and injuring hundreds.

Be wary of frayed wires and burnt cords. Remember, if you smell something, say thing. The symptoms of wire damage can’t always be seen, but can be detected through foul odors or scorched plastic.

What are arc faults?

Arc fault circuit interrupters (AFCIs) break the circuit when it detects an electric arc to prevent electrical fires. While conventional circuit breakers only respond to short circuits and overloads, an AFCI detects potentially dangerous arcs to harmless ones, sensing wiring problems before they happen and giving you protection against arc faults.

Arc faults are caused by loose screws, poor terminal connections, and overheated or damaged electrical wiring and devices. They become dangerous when the wiring is frayed or when outlets or circuits are compromised.

It is important that breakers be tested monthly. AFCIs are reset in the same way as ordinary breakers. If the circuit is repeatedly tripping, there may be loose wire connections along the circuit, which causes arcing.

What can I do?

If your circuit breaker is tripping up more and more frequently, contact us for a consultation with us so we can get your energy where it needs to go.

Make sure you:

  • Avoid overloading outlets

  • Take stock of what appliances you have plugged in and where

  • Update your grid so your circuit breaker can handle your daily needs

  • Evaluate whether additional circuits or outlets would benefit you

  • Test your breaker to ensure its safety and reliability as such a key piece in the power asset chain in your home

If your home is older than 40 years or has had a major renovation, addition, or large appliance added, we’re happy to make sure everything is running smoothly and safely.

Call us today at (924) 577-7923 for any and all issues related to your circuit breaker and electrical grid. Our talented team is ready to answer your questions, hear your concerns, and discuss any issues you may be having.

Chris Pacchioli