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How Can I Discover What is Tripping Off my Circuit Breaker?

How can I find out what is tripping a circuit breaker? How to Identify an Electrical Problem and Circuit Failure.

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Tripping Circuit Breaker Problem
Electrical Question: How can I find out what is tripping a circuit breaker?

Thank you.

Additional Comments: I love the website. It already has helped me.

Background: John who is a Homeowner from Sugarloaf, Pennsylvania.

Dave’s Reply:
Thanks for your electrical troubleshooting question John.

How to Identify an Electrical Problem and Circuit Failure

Circuit Breakers

Application: Testing Electrical Circuit Wiring.
Skill Level: Intermediate to Advanced. This electrical project is best performed by a Licensed Electrician or Electrical Contractor.
Tools Required: Basic Electricians Pouch of Hand Tools and Voltage Tester or Continuity Tester.
Estimated Time: Depends on experience and level of problem solving skills.
Precaution: Testing live wires is dangerous and should be done by an experienced individual only. Testing using a continuity tester should only be made after the circuit has been identified and turned OFF and Tagged.

Guide to Lost Power and Electrical Circuit Failure

Use this Method to Discover Electrical Circuit Problems


Electrical circuit failures are best identified and repaired by a professional licensed electrical contractor who can identify the problem quickly and safely restore to electricity for your home.

More about Troubleshooting Electrical Problems and Lost Power

Why a Home has Lost Power
Lost power

How to Identify Lost Power

Licensed Electrician Reveals the Secrets of Successful Electrical Troubleshooting Methods used to solve the majority of the home electrical problems and wiring failures encountered.

More about Troubleshooting Electrical Circuit Wiring

Repair Electrical Wiring

Troubleshooting and Repairing Electrical Wiring

Licensed Electrician Reveals the Secrets of Successful Electrical Troubleshooting Methods used to solve the majority of the home electrical problems and wiring failures encountered.

The following may also be helpful for you:

Dave's Guide to Home Electrical Wiring:

» You Can Avoid Costly Mistakes! «

Here's How to Do It:
Wire It Right with the help of my Illustrated Wiring Book

Great for any Home Wiring Project.
  electrical wiring  

Complete Guide to Home Electrical Wiring

Perfect for Homeowners, Students,
Handyman, Handy Women, and Electricians
Wiring GFCI Outlets
Wiring Home Electric Circuits
120 Volt and 240 Volt Outlet Circuits
Wiring Light Switches
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Electric Range
Wiring 3-Wire and 4-Wire Dryer Cord and Dryer Outlet
How to Troubleshoot and Repair Electrical Wiring
Wiring Methods for Upgrading Electrical Wiring
NEC Codes for Home Electrical Wiring
....and much more.

Learn more about Home Electrical Wiring
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Basic Home Electrical Wiring by Example

Be Careful and Be Safe - Never Work on Energized Circuits!
Consult your Local Building Department about Permits and Inspections for all Electric Wiring Projects.

Electrical Tips to Help You Wire it Right

The Safest Way to Test Electrical Devices and Identify Electric Wires!

The Non-Contact Electrical Tester
This is a testing tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and is the first test tool I grab to help identify electrical wiring. It is a Non-contact tester that I use to easily Detect Voltage in Cables, Cords, Circuit Breakers, Lighting Fixtures, Switches, Outlets and Wires. Simply insert the end of the tester into an outlet, lamp socket, or hold the end of the tester against the wire you wish to test. Very handy and easy to use.

The Quickest Way to Check for Faulty Electrical Wiring!

The Plug-In Outlet Tester
This is the first tool I grab to troubleshoot a problem with outlet circuit wiring. This popular tester is also used by most inspectors to test for power and check the polarity of circuit wiring.
It detects probable improper wiring conditions in standard 110-125 VAC outlets Provides 6 probable wiring conditions that are quick and easy to read for ultimate efficiency Lights indicate if wiring is correct and indicator light chart is included Tests standard 3-wire outlets UL Listed Light indicates if wiring is incorrect Very handy and easy to use.

Strip Off Wire Insulation without Nicking and Damaging the Electric Wire!

The Wire Stripper and Wire Cutter
My absolute favorite wire stripping tool that I have had in my personal electrical tool pouch for years, and this is the tool I use to safely strip electrical wires.
This handy tool has multiple uses:
The wire gauges are shown on the side of the tool so you know which slot to use for stripping insulation.
The end of the tool can be used to grip and bend wire which is handy for attaching wire onto the screw terminals of switches and outlets..

The wire stripper will work on both solid and stranded wire. This tool is Very Handy and Easy to Use.

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FAQs Frequently Asked Questions and Comments

10 Responses to “How Can I Discover What is Tripping Off my Circuit Breaker?”
  1. Roger says:

    This sounds like an overload problem, the reason is that the breaker basically is taking time to warm up indicating to me that the overload is minimal.
    Try just disconnecting 1 item and see if it stops the tripping, then do another appliance etc. I am guessing that the circuit is 115v 15A therefore your limit is going to be about 1700w, some skillets pull 1500 on their own leaving not a lot for someting else.

  2. Dave Rongey says:

    Absolutely Roger,
    And the 1500 watts that Roger has mentioned is from a simple calculation of Volts times Amps.
    So in this case 115 x 15 equals 1725 watts.
    When looking at the label on most kitchen appliances you will see the Volts and Watts.
    This is why two 20 amp 120 volt circuits are required for small appliances at kitchen counter areas.

  3. JOSIE BARBUTO says:


  4. admin says:

    The main electrical service panel may have a deteriorating condition which is affecting half of the power and should be checked by an electrician as soon as possible.

  5. Robert Nixon says:

    Tripped Circuit Breaker for Room Lights
    A breaker was being tripped, so I traced it back to the living room lights. When the light switch is turned off power is still coming thru and lights are flickering. Do I just replace the light switch as the next possible fix?

  6. Dave Rongey says:

    Lost Power from a Tripped Circuit and Voltage Feedback
    Hi Robert,
    From what you have described the problem is not the light switch. It sounds like the circuit is experiencing a feedback. This means that either one portion of the electrical circuit or the electrical service may have lost power. To locate the source of the problem a variety of inspections and voltage tests will need to be performed by a qualified electrician who is experienced with troubleshooting.

  7. Dennis m says:

    While installing a ceiling fan I shorted the wires. although I just blew the fuse, the breaker has a dead line that caused tripping. We’ve disconnected all circuits and switches. All other outlets and circuits are working. I can’t find the dead line! The breaker tested good.

  8. Dave Rongey says:

    Hi Dennis,
    To help locate the problem the wiring to the ceiling fan should be disconnected to see if there is now a permanent fault or internal damage with the ceiling fan. If the circuit breaker still trips off then a wall switch for the ceiling fan may be faulty, such as a light dimmer, or fan speed control.
    I hope this helps,

  9. Al says:

    What Causes a GFCI Breaker to Keep Tripping?
    I have a GFCI Breaker that keeps tripping. I replaced it with a new one but the condition still persists. There are several things on this circuit that shouldn’t cause it to trip, via a small UPS system. They are: TV, Modem, Router, and DVD Player. Is there a way to test the GFCI or panel for fault continuity? Thank you.

  10. Dave Rongey says:

    How to Locate the Cause of a Tripping GFCI Circuit
    Hi Al, One of the easiest ways to isolate the cause of a Tripping GFCI Circuit is to clear the circuit by disconnecting all of the devices that are connected to the GFCI Circuit. The process involves disconnecting all of the devices, and then reconnect the devices one at a time until the device that is causing the problem has been identified. The problem device can then be examined and tested to identify the specific fault and then repairs may be applied as needed.
    I hope this helps you,