How Do You Know If a Circuit Breaker Has Gone Bad?


Quick Answer

One way to tell if a circuit breaker is bad is to open the breaker box and flip the reset switch to on. If the switch refuses to stay in the on or off position, it's a bad breaker. If the circuit breaker switch is functional but fails to immediately trip the flow of electricity, this might indicate a breaker bad, but it also might indicate a short in the wiring.

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Full Answer

Burn marks around the components is an ominous sign that a circuit breaker is malfunctioning. In some instances, a bad breaker makes a low humming noise. Appliances that frequently turn off due to a lack of electricity is a common sign that there's something wrong with the breaker. Making frequent trips to the breaker box to flip the breaker switch back on is often the result of overloaded electrical circuitry. This means the breaker box is attempting to send electricity to too many appliances plugged into the wall outlets.

Ignoring a faulty circuit breaker is not recommended, because fires may be started by bad breakers. Attempting to replace a bad circuit breaker without consulting an experienced electrician is risky. A common mistake is to replace a 15-amp circuit breaker with a 20-amp circuit breaker. Installing the wrong type of breaker can lead to circuit overheating, which is a major fire risk.

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