Sometimes when you open your electrical panel, it will appear as if everything is in working order and none of the breakers have tripped off. Keep in mind, however, that it is entirely possible for a breaker to be stuck in the on position even when it has flipped off.
If you think that you have lost power due to a flipped circuit breaker, follow these directions:
- Safely turn off any computers and other devices that could experience data loss as a result of lost power.
- When you arrive at your electrical panel, move the first breaker to the off position and then back to the on position.
- Repeat step two with all of the breakers in your panel.
- Return to the area where you had lost power to see if it has returned.
- If your power is back, you’ve most likely identified the problem. If not, then you will need to call your electrician.
Believe it or not, following the above steps solves nearly 25% of all electrical issues.
The Technical Info
Your standard circuit breaker protects your electrical system with thermal protection, magnetic protection, or both. A thermal strip is used within your breaker to detect when too much heat builds up. At a predefined temperature, this will cause your breaker to flip off. A magnetic protection system is designed to sense current increases like shorts. When an electrical current reaches a certain level, the breaker will turn off. Although older breakers normally have just one or the other, newer breakers will typically employ both.
There are three different places that you should inspect for wear on your circuit breakers. The first is the breaker stab. This is where the breaker connects to the bussing. Because it is attached with spring tension and friction alone, it frequently wears out. As a result, arcing and burning may occur. If you notice that the stab is discolored, burnt or loose, you should have the breaker replaced and your bussing looked at. The second is the on/off switch itself. If it is broken off or loose, you should have it replaced. The last is the load lug. You should check this for looseness. If it is excessively loose, make sure that you have an electrician replace it.
NOTE: Although your breaker may appear to be in perfect working order, it is possible for there to be underlying issues that could potentially endanger you and your family. Furthermore, some of the worst looking breaker panels can be in perfect working condition. Because of this, you should not decide to change breakers based on appearance alone. Always consult with a licensed electrician in order to decide what is the best thing to do in your situation.