This is one of the most common questions I get about tripped circuit breakers. Some circuit breaker models will trip to the middle position. The handle on the tripped breaker will feel very loose when toggled. Before resetting any circuit breaker or main breaker, safety glasses and gloves should be put on to avoid burns from arc flash caused by short circuits or dead shorts. You should also stand to the side of the breaker panel and look away while turning the breaker to the 'on' position. If you are unsure about proper electrical procedure and safety, please call a residential electrician to troubleshoot the electrical issue. To fully reset the breaker, you will need to turn the breaker all the way off and then back on before it will hold. If the breaker trips again you may have a short circuit or overloaded circuit, which will need to be checked out by a local licensed residential electrician. A circuit breaker that refuses to reset even after being turn to the 'off' position and back on may be broken and will need to be replaced.
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Resetting the main breaker is pretty much the same procedure as resetting a smaller branch circuit breaker in your electrical panel. The main difference is the amount of force required to turn it all the way off, then back on because of the stiffness the breaker handle. Again, safety glasses and gloves should be put on to avoid burns from arc flash caused by short circuits or dead shorts. You should also stand to the side of the breaker panel and look away as the breaker is turned to the 'on' position. If you are unsure about proper electrical procedure and safety please call a residential electrician to trouble the electrical issue. The main circuit breaker should rarely, if ever, trip. Like the smaller breakers in the electrical panel, if it is reset and it continues to trip, there is definitely an electrical issue that needs to be addressed by a residential electrician.
Certain circuit breakers have test buttons that are meant to be tested monthly as recommend by the manufacturer. Of course, very few homeowners perform this maintenance test. GFCI breakers, Arc Fault Breakers, and AFI / GFCI combination breakers have test buttons that should be tested from time to time to make sure they are still working properly and protecting your home. Resetting these circuit breakers is the same procedure as the regular branch circuit breaker. The difference in these breakers is they are not just protecting the circuit from overloads or short circuit, they are monitoring for small faults to ground and listening for radio frequencies caused by arcing. Arc Fault and Ground Fault breakers are required for certain areas in the home and are lifesavers that prevent electrocution and fires. They should never be replaced with a common breaker.
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Unlike the old screw in s type fuses, breakers are meant to be reset multiple times. This does not mean the breaker should be reset again and again because of a short circuit or overload. If a breaker is reset and trips again. a residential electrician should be called to troubleshoot the electrical issue. Eventually, the circuit breaker will wear out and become ineffective.
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Almost without exception, the circuit breakers 'on' position will be with the handle inward towards the center of the panel. As mentioned before, the breaker may need to be turned off then back on to be reset.
The main breaker should be located outside the home near the power company’s meter enclosure or inside the main electrical panel located in the home. There are very few exceptions when no main breaker is needed. I have seen some older homes in Greenville, SC that doesn’t have main breakers installed at all. Most homes in the area will have 100 amp, 150 amp, or 200 amp main breakers. Homes with 400 amp service will usually have two separate 200 amp main panels with each one having a 200 amp main breaker.
If you have followed the correct steps and reset the circuit breaker to the 'on' position but there is still no power, you may have a defective breaker or a break in the circuit's wiring. While replacing a circuit breaker is relatively simple if you are familiar with and follow the correct procedures, safety guidelines, and replace the circuit breaker with the correct size and approved replacement. If you are the least bit uncertain, please contact your residential electrician. Finding a break in a circuits wiring can be a frustrating undertaking. The problem could be in any number of places.
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The list goes on and on. Read Electrical Repairs That Can't Wait 'Till Tomorrow If you have found yourself in this situation and need help please call Upstate Electrical Solutions at 864.834.9955, we are a local licensed residential electrician in the Greenville, SC area, and we specialize in residential electrical repair, troubleshooting, and installation.
Please read our article about defective breakers that are recalled, outdated, and unsafe.
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