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HomeHomesHome ImprovementWhy Do Breakers Trip? | Ask This Old House

Why Do Breakers Trip? | Ask This Old House

In this video, This Old House master electrician Heath Eastman shows host Kevin O’Connor everything he needs to know about why and how breakers trip.

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Heath Eastman talks about circuit breakers. Heath shows Kevin O’Connor that while resetting these breakers is simple, these are actually complex devices that monitor and protect circuits. First, the two talk about the different sizes of breakers before moving on to the different types. Finally, Heath shows Kevin how to test certain breakers to ensure that they’re working properly.

Circuit breakers exist to protect people, appliances, and homes from dangerous electrical current. However, few people understand why the trip and how they operate. Master electrician Heath Eastman shows host Kevin O’Connor why this happens, and even explains a few different types of breakers.

Where to find it?
Heath explains what a circuit breaker [] is, why they trip and how it protects a home. A circuit breaker is a device, installed in the electrical panel, that controls whether power can be sent from the panel through a circuit. Heath explains this ability is controlled by a switch that can be operated either manually—like when a person wants to interrupt power for service—or automatically, like a breaker trip.

He says power overloads, current “leaks”, and arcs are the three reasons that would cause a breaker to trip. A Power overload happens when a device is calling for more power than a receptacle [] or a circuit is designed to provide. Current “leaks” are caused when current strays from the circuit for whatever reason, though it happens most commonly when moisture is present. Arcs can happen when the wire breaks down over time (due to overloads but also due to other factors, like animals chewing the wire and other decay) but what Heath sees the most is human error.

If a specific receptacle is consistently tripping the breaker, Heath advises to have a licensed electrician identify the problem to ensure the work is done safely.

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About Ask This Old House TV:
From the makers of This Old House, America’s first and most trusted home improvement show, Ask This Old House answers the steady stream of home improvement questions asked by viewers across the United States. Covering topics from landscaping to electrical to HVAC and plumbing to painting and more. Ask This Old House features the experts from This Old House, including general contractor Tom Silva, plumbing and heating expert Richard Trethewey, landscape contractor Jenn Nawada, master carpenter Norm Abram, and host Kevin O’Connor. ASK This Old House helps you protect and preserve your greatest investment—your home.

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Why Do Breakers Trip? | Ask This Old House


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