Last Updated on October 22, 2023 by Kevin Chen
Photo by Diermaier on Pixabay
A circuit breaker is an electrical device used to protect a circuit from a hazardous overload. If a circuit continues to receive more power than it can safely handle, the circuit breaker trips and pops open, interrupting the flow of electricity. Once tripped, the breaker remains in that position until reset manually. Consequently, for a safety-conscious engineering installation, tripping a circuit breaker might not always be an option. But how do you trip a circuit breaker safely? Here are some tips on how to trip a circuit breaker without it repeatedly opening and closing again in quick succession.
Why do we trip circuit breakers intentionally?
A circuit breaker is designed to trip if it receives more power than it can safely handle. However, it is also designed to reset automatically once the fault is taken care of. In some cases, you may want to intentionally trip a breaker because there isn’t a fix in sight. For example, you may want to trip a breaker to avoid the risk of a fire if you are dealing with a wiring issue or an overloaded circuit. For example, during a heavy thunderstorm, there may be a risk of lightning striking the power lines and damaging or tripping the breakers. In such a situation, you need to manually trip the breakers to avoid a power surge from the damaged lines.
Things you will need to safely trip a circuit breaker
Here are the basic tools that you will for this job:
-The circuit breaker that you want to intentionally trip
Steps to follow
Step 1: Leave an appliance that is protected by the breaker on
Before you trip the breaker, make sure that an appliance that is protected by the breaker is on and running. If the appliance is off, then you will need to turn it on to test the breaker. If the breaker trips, your problem isn’t the circuit breaker. If you don’t have an appliance or device that is on a circuit that you want to trip, you can turn off nearby lights as a temporary fix.
Step 2: Locate the breaker on the panel
The best way to find the breaker that you want to trip is to use a circuit map. A circuit map will help you identify the circuit that you want to trip, as well as show you other circuits on the same panel. If you don’t have a circuit map for your home, you can find one online or ask an electrician to help you identify the right breaker.
Step 3: Turn off the circuit breaker and confirm if the appliance is still on or has turned off
Now that you have located the circuit breaker it is time to execute the actual tripping of the circuit breaker. Here, you will turn off the breaker by simply pushing the button off.
With this move, you have manually tripped the circuit breaker. While the breaker remains at that ‘Off’ position, go back and verify the gadget or appliance that you had switched on. It should now be off since the tripped circuit breaker has cut the supply current to the load.
That is it, you have safely tripped the circuit breaker!
Does tripping a breaker damage it?
No, a circuit breaker isn’t damaged by being manually tripped. This is only an issue if you try to manually reset the circuit breaker without fixing the original problem.
As discussed earlier, if a circuit breaker keeps tripping due to a faulty or damaged component, you won’t be able to reset it. You will need to identify and fix the problem first.
When Should You Not Trip a Breaker?
There are various situations which you should not proceed to trip the circuit breaker intentionally.
– When the circuit breaker is connected to a critical circuit or piece of equipment. A circuit breaker is an essential part of a circuit and has to be manually reset by an electrician.
– When you don’t know why the breaker is tripping. There could be faulty wiring or improper installation.
– When you don’t know how the circuit breaker is connected. In the event that you are not familiar with the electrical wiring, you should leave the circuit breaker alone.
Can tripping a breaker electrocute you?
A breaker panel is quite a delicate system that needs to be handled with utmost care. If you follow the safety steps that we have outlined, you won’t experience any incidence such as electrocution.
For example, one of the safety measures that we encourage is wearing gloves. They will act as insulators, protecting you whenever you get in direct contact with the current.
Buy a quality circuit breaker
Circuit breakers are mechanical devices, and they will eventually wear out. If you notice that a circuit breaker keeps tripping, you may want to replace it with a new circuit breaker.
When purchasing a new circuit breaker, you want to make sure that it is a high-quality product. If you are in the market for a circuit breaker, you may want to consider investing in a circuit breaker with a built-in breaker.
A circuit breaker with a built-in breaker is meant to trip the circuit breaker if there is a short or fault on the circuit. These circuit breakers are designed to trip before the short or fault damages the circuit breaker itself. They are a good safety feature to have if you have young children in the house or have small animals that may come into contact with the circuit breaker and potentially get injured if they trip the circuit breaker.
A circuit breaker is a necessary piece of equipment when it comes to maintaining a safe electrical system. However, circuit breakers can fail if the wiring or power source is too weak to support the current draw. If you notice that a circuit breaker is tripping and resetting, you may want to contact an electrician to inspect the wiring or wiring installation and determine if the wiring needs to be replaced or if the circuit breaker needs to be replaced.
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