By Erik Watkins

Tripped Circuit Breaker Won’t Reset? Why And How

Last updated: Jan 5, 2023
Tripped Circuit Breaker Won't Reset

Sometimes, you may have to face the problem of your breaker not resetting. What should you do in this situation? What are the culprits behind the issue, and what feasible solutions are needed? These inquiries will be explained in detail. Stay tuned!

Your Breaker Won’t Turn Back On? The Reason Why

There are several factors behind the improper resetting of your tripper breaker, with overloaded circuits being the most common, followed by short circuits, ground faults, and other contributors

When a circuit breaker resets, it will move from the “on” position to the firm “off” before turning back to the “on” position one more time. If your breaker does not go back, it can be attributed to the circuit overload that is still present. 

But before exploring these culprits, we should grasp basic knowledge about the tripped breaker. A circuit breaker trips off when it is no longer operating smoothly. This problem is boiled down to the interrupted electricity flow, primarily rendered by excess power. 

Under this circumstance, it would help if you could reset your breaker, but even the resetting practice seems to be in vain. Here are some possible causes that you must know: 

Overloaded Circuits

Overloaded Circuits

This factor is most common, induced by the overwhelming number of appliances running on one power supplier or circuit. 

More specifically, when the energy amount required by these devices is greater than that of a breaker circuit able to supply, the overloading problem will likely arise. 

Accordingly, to solve this matter, you are advised not to plug numerous devices into one circuit. You can also rely on other alternatives to support the main breaker so that the energy requirements will be distributed evenly.

See more: How many watts can 15 amps circuit handle?

Short Circuits

The issue of short circuits indicates that the electrical current is diverted from the intended pathway. This wrong direction is underlyingly rooted in the loose wires or faulty cables pierced due to nails or screws. 

One of the most viable remedies you can use is to check the wiring network immediately. When one of the wires shows signs of loosening, try to replace the whole system with a new one. Besides, if the cause lies in the damaged cable, purchase a new thread or have it fixed by qualified technicians. 

Ground Faults

Ground faults are nearly the same as short circuits. In a short circuit, a powered wire interacts with a neutral one, but regarding the ground defection, hot wires or components make contact with the metal housing of appliances that they have met. 

To test if an appliance is shorted to ground, you can plug it into a circuit protected by a GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter). This device is able to monitor the current between hot and neutral lines. 

Therefore, if there is even a small amount of current leaking to the ground, the GFCI will trip as a result and disconnect power until that appliance is activated again.

Other Issues

A faulty breaker is another culprit behind the resetting problem. Some breaker switches are quite stiff, which requires a load of pressure to flip. In this case, you might be mistaken that your device is on the fritz and no longer working properly.

Human error should also be listed. Many choose the wrong breaker, so they cannot reset it. If you are in the dark about this technical matter, it is wise to call for a professional’s help. 

Your Circuit Breaker Won’t Reset? How To Examine

Below are some tips that help you check whether your circuit breaker is troublesome or not: 

Reset The Circuit Breaker Properly

It is possible that your breaker can totally reset, but you have undertaken the wrong steps. Hence, ensure you are flipping the right switch by searching for the breaker resetting guide on the Internet or contacting specialists for further information. 

Check For The Overloaded Circuit

This problem is rendered by a large number of devices plugged into the main electricity outlet, as we have mentioned above. It often pops up in the kitchen or bathroom, so check these sites carefully. 

Check For The Short Circuit And Ground Faults

You can consider the aforementioned guide to reap more helpful insights into these two common issues. Generally speaking, an outstanding symptom of both is shown in the interaction of hot or powered wires. Thus, you should take close notice of this. 

Check For A Defective Breaker

The chances of this incident are pretty low but not impossible. Ask a licensed electrician to come and inspect it for you or bring this potentially-damaged breaker to a reliable electric equipment store for repair. 

Use A Multimeter To Check

This tool can measure the electric current continuity between hot and ground or hot and neutral wires. However, it is advisable to put on safety equipment during this task with a view to averting the high power voltage. 

How To Reset A Tripped Circuit Breaker Properly?

Following is an all-inclusive instruction to help you execute this process smoothly and efficiently. This tutorial only works if your tripped breaker is induced by overloaded circuits. 

Preparation Step

The top priority is to prepare the necessary tools for the procedure. A compilation of essential equipment will be presented as follows: 

  • Flashlight
  • Circuit breaker directory (it is fine if you don’t bring one)
  • Safety gloves
  • Protective eyeglasses
  • Shoes that are made of durable rubber

Step 1: Switch Off All The Appliances

It is time you disconnect all of the devices on a single circuit that are inclined to cause your breaker to trip. They can be enumerated, such as a hair dryer, microwave, A/C socket or light fixtures. 

Step 2: Locate The Electrical Panel

At this step, you are required to find the service panel. It is a metal box-shaped device that has a door, and you easily access the panel in some places, namely the garage, pantry, basement, hallway, etc.

Normally, it is inserted on the wall and within the user’s sight so that he can open it without a hitch. Although it is just a small-sized box, its function is of paramount significance by providing updated information about the electricity amount that your family uses and other statistics. 

After pinpointing the exact position of a panel, you then slide the plastic switch to open the door. If you cannot locate it, a tip is to search for your house’s electrical service drop where important power lines are located. An electricity panel will be around there. 

Step 3: Search For The Tripped Circuit Breaker

There are numerous buttons and devices in the panel that you may feel confused about when searching. Use the flashlight that you have prepared and try to touch the breaker handle. In most cases, it is in the middle position, so don’t mistake it for being placed on the right or left side. 

Step 4: Press The Breaker Handle To The Off Position

When you have found the handle, flip it to the off position. In other words, you press it away from the centerline, pointing to the outer part of an electrical panel. 

Step 5: Turn On The Circuit Breaker

Then, try to switch the handle back to the on position, which is in the opposite direction. You have to execute this practice firmly, and when you hear a clicking sound, the handle is seated in place. 

Step 6: Test Your Circuit Breaker

You can check whether your breaker is successfully fixed by turning some devices connected to the power circuit back on. Nevertheless, you should not switch on multiple appliances all at once but select a device whose power draw is much lower, for instance, a light or a hairdryer. 

How To Prevent Your Circuit Breaker From Tripping?

  • If this issue stems from overloaded circuits, it is best to separate all appliances on one power outlet. You can use other circuits as alternatives to draw equal electricity distribution and relieve the load. 
  • Avoid using only one circuit to power numerous devices. For example, in the kitchen, you are not recommended to use a microwave, cooker, ventilation hood, etc., on the same circuit. 
  • The installation of the GFCI is necessary. When your breaker indicates some signs of ground faults, this power tool will shut electrical outlets off beforehand. 
  • Many devices, especially old models, may take up more electricity than modern ones. Therefore, you could replace some outdated appliances to avoid overloading, protect your circuit breaker, and decorate your house. 
  • Make a replacement of your old breaker when needed.
  • If you notice something wrong with your circuit breaker, contact a qualified electrician right away for timely maintenance. 

What Is The Best Time To Replace Your Breaker?

If you have done all of the steps above about resetting a tripped circuit breaker properly, but your efforts are in vain, you should consider investing in a new one. 

Besides, once your breaker displays one of these warning signs, it’s high time you replaced it: 

  • The burning smell is the most noticeable red light. This smell will permeate around your house, indicating that your wires are overheated due to the reduced insulation capacity. Accordingly, the electrical short will soon arise if you don’t take the necessary steps. 
  • Old age is another indicator. Although a circuit breaker can last for many decades, it is still out of order if not serviced and maintained. Thus, having it inspected and maintained frequently may help prolong its lifespan. 
  • Physical damage is an evident pointer. Scorch marks on the circuit breaker or its nearby outlet are caused by melted wires, which is one of the common causes behind numerous house fires.

As usual, it would be best to seek the help of specialists in this field or have it replaced by an experienced linesman. You could surf for reliable instructions on the Internet and try to undertake this process at home. 

Frequently Asked Questions

How To Locate A Tripped Breaker?

Inside the service panel is a circuit directory entailing sufficient information about the circuit breaker and other devices. You can search for the tripped one via the labeled number. Although it is not invariably accurate, this tool still helps you a lot by pointing the right direction. 

To manually locate a tripped breaker, these steps may come in handy. First, use your hand to run from the top down to the centerline section of an electrical panel. You will kindly grasp the breaker handles to confirm they are pointing towards. 

You then move your hand over to the nearby row where a circuit breaker is located. Try to sense, and whenever you feel springy, you will likely touch the tripped breaker. 

Where Is The Main Circuit Breaker Based?

The main breaker is often located outside your house or inside the service panel attached to the wall. Another common location is near the power supplier or company. 

This main breaker is very important, as it shows the electricity each household uses per month, which will be translated to the equivalent money in total. 

Is It Necessary To Use The Test Button?

Some particular circuit breakers, namely ADI/GFCI, Arc Fault, etc., are equipped with test buttons that should be examined, as recommended by their manufacturers. But not many households perform this testing. 

This laziness greatly harms your circuit breaker and your house in general. Indeed, when you check this button regularly, you can figure out hidden problems, such as overloading or short circuits, upfront. 

It can also monitor the radio frequencies that are induced by arcing to detect the issue of ground faults as well. 

The Bottom Line

Hopefully, you will learn more about the tripped circuit breaker not resetting and equip yourself with vital knowledge associated with this aspect. If you find this article useful, please share it with your family and friends to support our website more. Thank you, and have a good day.

See more: 15 amp circuit breaker vs 20 amp outlet

Automotive Master Mechanic at PowerAll

With 7 years experience in management positions leading automotive mechanics at PowerAll, Erik Watkins wishes to share useful knowledge and information about automotive mechanical equipment.

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