Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
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To protect electrical appliances, every home needs a circuit breaker. This gadget protects families from dangerous electrical shocks in the home—however, circuit breakers age like any other electronic gadget.
This is why knowing the average lifespan of circuit breakers is crucial for avoiding unexpected electrical mishaps.
But how long do circuit breakers typically stay in service? This is a question that every homeowner should ask themselves. Electricians estimate that circuit breakers last between 30 and 40 years. I’d recommend reading on if you’re interested in learning more about circuit breakers.
How long do Circuits Breakers Last?
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Having a circuit breaker installed can indeed prevent electrical fires and injuries. The issue is how long they last.
The CPSC is a guideline for determining how long consumer goods should last. The CPSC estimates that the average lifespan of an electrical circuit breaker is between 30 and 40 years. According to specific guidelines, circuit breakers should last for 30 years.
However, if it is installed correctly, not overloaded, and there are no electrical problems in the neighborhood, a breaker can last forever. If you keep it like this, the circuit breaker in your house may never need to be replaced.
It’s worth noting that this assumes perfect conditions, and we all know such conditions don’t exist. Your circuit breakers will eventually need to be replaced if your location suffers from regular power outages, lightning strikes, power surges, etc.
Most modern circuit breakers feature built-in sensors that can identify either arc faults or ground faults (in the case of combo breakers) in the current traveling through the circuit.
There is a problem with these circuit breakers because the sensors don’t live as long as the breakers themselves. Once a sensor fails, it can no longer do its job of detecting arc and ground faults and tripping the breaker in response. When this protection is removed, the breaker functions as a regular breaker.
After 15–20 years, the sensors in AFCI, CAFCI, or GFCI breakers generally fail, necessitating replacement by an electrician.
Regular monthly testing of all circuit breakers should include the AFCI, GFCI, and CAFCI. The breaker must be tested by pushing the TEST button and resetting it when it trips. If the breaker does not trip when tested, the sensor has likely failed, and the breaker should be replaced.
How to Know if You Have a Bad Breaker?
There are a few potential issues that could cause your breaker to malfunction. An electrical fire can start because of a faulty breaker that doesn’t trip when too much electricity flows. If your circuit breaker fails and needs replacing, you’ll be alerted in multiple ways.
It doesn’t matter how old a circuit breaker is; it might still malfunction. Bad things can happen when you use a circuit breaker.
A faulty electrical breaker could cause your home’s blinking or flickering lights.
Appliances or light switches make a buzzing or sparking noise or give off a Smokey odor. If you find that your appliances are breaking down or not performing as expected, you may want to check the breaker that supplies power to them.
The circuit breaker keeps tripping. It’s possible that the arcing along the bus bar results from an internal breakdown in the circuit breaker or a loose connection within the electrical panel. Due to the resulting heat, the breaker may melt or fuse to the bus bar.
Can a Circuit Breaker go bad?
The breakers in your home’s electrical system prevent fires and other electrical disasters. First and foremost, they will keep you and your loved ones safe. Breakers are used to stop the flow of electricity by interrupting the current. Avoid dangerous and potentially catastrophic short circuits by using a high-quality circuit breaker. However, how can you tell whether a breaker is malfunctioning?
Indicators of a malfunctioning circuit breaker are plentiful. Any of these could indicate a faulty circuit breaker:
- Lights in your house constantly flash or flicker.
- Your home electronics are giving you trouble, or you must reset them constantly.
- Quite often, your home’s circuit breakers will trip.
- The circuit board emits a burning smell, which you identify as electrical.
These are just a few warnings that should prompt you to read this page, where you’ll find a wealth of further information, including how to recognize and address faulty circuit breakers and other potential safety concerns. However, let’s start with the fundamentals of a circuit breaker before moving on to the other indications.
Tips on Replacing Circuit Breaker
You should know when and how to replace a circuit breaker after identifying the signs of an aging breaker.
- Examine the circuit breaker box thoroughly. Search for anomalies and symptoms of malfunction.
- Keep in mind which circuits a given breaker is meant to safeguard. This prevents you from arbitrarily tampering with circuit breakers currently in use.
- After locating the defective and outdated circuit breaker, remove power from any associated devices. Verify that any electrical appliances have been unplugged from their outlets to avoid damaging them.
- Make sure the breaker is working. When testing a breaker, if it doesn’t trip, it means the sensor is broken, and the breaker needs to be replaced.
Warning Signs You Need to Replace Your Circuit Breaker
When is it time to replace a tripped circuit breaker, though? Please be on the alert for any of the following when you next inspect your home:
Feel like there’s a burning smell in the house or coming from the panel? Overheated insulation and wires indicate a problem. They are not doing enough to prevent a house fire caused by an electrical short. Cut off the home’s main power supply and contact Upstate Electrical Solutions immediately.
Circuit breakers have a long lifespan, but a panel that hasn’t been serviced in over 10 years has a far higher failure rate. Having your panel inspected by an electrician from Upstate Electrical Solutions is a wise investment that might greatly impact your quality of life at home.
Breakers Tripping Frequently
When too much current flows through a circuit breaker, it will automatically shut off to protect the entire house. Your circuit breaker may fail if it trips every time you use a specific electrical device, such as a microwave or vacuum cleaner. Upstate Electrical Solutions has licensed electricians who can inspect your home’s electrical system and decide if you need a new circuit or if a faulty breaker causes the problem.
We recommend calling us for electrical rewiring repair immediately if you see scorch marks near the breaker, at an outlet, or if any of your appliances stop working because of melted wires. It only takes one melted wire to start a fire that spreads throughout the home. Unplug anything in that circuit and give a call to one of our electricians.
Breaker Will Not Stay Reset
The breaker won’t stay on for long if you’ve been flipping it back and forth repeatedly over the past few months. By that time, likely, the circuit breaker has already tripped. On the other hand, your electrician will inspect the complete circuit to rule out the possibility of future damage to the wiring.
The lifespan of a circuit breaker is a seemingly unimportant yet crucial piece of knowledge that every homeowner should know. This is why I’ve put together this resource for all you homeowners.
Circuit breakers have an estimated 30-year to 40-year lifespan. Have your circuit breakers checked out if they start showing signs of weakening?
For more details on breakers, how the function, purchasing them, the best types to use for what purpose, we at ICRFQ are your one stop electrical component manufacturers in China. We will advice you and sell you the best products for your clients.
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