Breaker Keeps Tripping: Can I Replace it With a Bigger Breaker?

No. You should never replace a tripping breaker with a larger one.

Why?

A tripping breaker is a red flag that you have an electrical problem on that circuit. But if you think replacing that breaker is the solution, you’re dead wrong. 

It only increases the risk of damage and/or an electrical fire.

In this article, we’ll explain why replacing the breaker is a serious no-no and what you should do instead. But first let’s take a look at how circuit breakers work.

How your circuit breaker works

Think of your breaker as a “bouncer”. A bouncer’s job is to carefully track the “flow” of people entering and exiting the building. Once the occupancy reaches its limit, he cuts off access to the building. 

Your breaker works the same way. A circuit breaker monitors the flow of current in a particular circuit. When the current hits an unsafe level, the breaker “trips” and immediately cuts off power to that circuit. 

But when your breaker trips, replacing it with a bigger amp breaker can actually cause a fire.

Why?

Let’s go back to the bouncer analogy. Imagine a new bouncer is hired and instructed to let in twice as many people as before. The building itself hasn’t changed but it’s now holding twice the amount of people it was designed to handle. Now the building is crowded, hot and breaking all kinds of safety codes.

This is exactly what happens when you switch to a bigger amp breaker. 

Yes, it may stop the breaker from tripping, but it’s also allowing more electric current than the wires were designed to handle. This can cause the wires to overheat and start a fire.

And the worst part? You still haven’t resolved the issue that caused the breaker to trip in the first place.

So what should I do if my breaker is tripping?

Instead of switching your tripped breaker for one with a bigger amp, try finding the reason your breaker tripped.

Need some background knowledge first? Check out our article, “Here’s Why Your Breaker Keeps Tripping”.

Ready to start troubleshooting? Below are some questions that will help.

Were you running several appliances when the breaker tripped?

If so, you most likely have an overloaded circuit. That means there are too many appliances on one circuit. 

The solution: The quick fix is to unplug or turn off some appliances before restarting the breaker. The long-term fix is to have an electrician set up new circuits for any appliances that should be on their own dedicated circuits.

Does the breaker trip every time you turn on a specific appliance?

If one appliance trips the breaker every time it’s used, there is probably a short on that circuit. This just means that electricity isn’t flowing in its proper “route”.

The solution: Short circuits can be dangerous. Call an electrician to find and repair the electrical short.

Does the breaker trip immediately after it’s reset?

First off, turn off all appliances. Then try to reset the breaker. Does the breaker immediately click back into the OFF position? If so, your breaker itself may be bad.

The solution: Replace the breaker with one that is the same size amp. We suggest calling an electrician since this involves working with high voltage.

Get a professional electrician’s help

If you’re still unsure why your breaker keeps tripping, we can help! Just contact us online to request a service. We’ll be on time or your repair is free!

Mister Sparky’s electricians serve Hastings, Minnesota and the surrounding areas, including  Apple Valley, Burnsville, Cottage Grove, Eagan, Woodbury, Lakeville, Rosemount and Stillwater.

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