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Why Does My Breaker Keep Tripping With Nothing Plugged In?

A breaker that keeps tripping with nothing plugged in is caused by a short circuit, earth fault, overloaded circuit, or overheating appliance. Understanding this issue is crucial for maintaining the safety and efficiency of your electrical system.

If the problem persists, it’s advisable to consult professional electricians, who can accurately diagnose and resolve the issue.

This blog will expand on the most common causes of a tripping circuit breaker and the steps to fix it.

4 of the Most Common Causes of Circuit Breaker Tripping   

The 4 most common causes of circuit breaker tripping are a short circuit, ground fault, overloaded circuit, and overheating appliance. Let’s take a closer look at each one below.

Short Circuit

A short circuit occurs when an active cable touches a neutral or earth cable, creating a sudden increase in current flow. This can cause sparks, overheating, and potentially a fire, triggering the breaker to trip for safety.

Earth Fault

Earth faults happen when a live cable comes into contact with an earthing cable, commonly by a metal housing on an appliance. Often it is the RCD that will trip when it detects an imbalance in flow between the active and the neutral cables. 

Overloaded Circuit

Circuit overload happens when there is too much power being drawn than the circuit can handle. This leads to excessive heat build-up, prompting the breaker to trip to avert potential damage or a power outage.

Overheating Appliance

Appliances that overheat can draw excessive current, causing the circuit breaker to trip. Regular maintenance of appliances is key to preventing this, ensuring they operate efficiently and don’t overload your electrical system.

5 Important Steps to Fix a Breaker That Keeps Tripping

The 5 important steps to fix a breaker that keeps tripping are to unplug all appliances, reset the circuit breaker, reconnect appliances gradually, identify the problematic appliance, and call a licenced electrician. Take a look at each step below for more details.

Step 1: Unplug All Appliances

Begin by disconnecting every appliance from the power outlets on the affected circuit. This helps identify if the issue is with a specific device.

Step 2: Reset the Circuit Breaker

Attempt to switch the tripped circuit breaker back to the ‘on’ position. If it doesn’t stay on, proceed directly to Step 5. Never force the breaker to stay on. A tripped breaker indicates a fault within the electrical circuit.

Step 3: Reconnect Appliances Individually

If the breaker stays on, start reconnecting appliances one at a time to determine which might be causing the issue.

Step 4: Identify the Problematic Appliance

Should the breaker trip again when a particular device is connected, you’ve likely found the culprit. This could be any electrical item, such as a toaster or coffee machine.

Step 5: Call a Licenced Electrician

If the breaker fails to remain on after following the previous steps, it’s time to seek professional help. Remember, working on the switchboard or performing any major electrical work yourself is illegal and should be left to a licenced electrician.                 

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Circuit Breaker?

It costs $200 to $300 to replace a circuit breaker. The cost to replace a breaker varies based on several factors, such as the type of breaker, amp size, and installation complexity.