An Electric Current Is Caused By A Flow Of What Causes Your Circuit Breaker to Burst

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What Causes Your Circuit Breaker to Burst

Circuit breakers are electrical components designed to protect our homes from the risks of electric shock and other types of damage caused by fire and electrical malfunctions. Each circuit breaker in your electrical switchboard usually protects one or more associated circuits from overload, short circuit, and earth leakage.

To understand what causes a circuit breaker to blow (or more commonly known as a trip), we first need to understand what a circuit is and what the terms overload, short circuit, and earth leakage mean.

What are circuits?

Electrical installations in our homes are divided into electrically separated sections known as circuits. Each circuit supplies power to a very well defined and specific group of devices. All light fittings and light switches are found on one circuit called lighting circuit. Air conditioners, heating and ventilation equipment are grouped on another circuit known as the HVAC circuit. And lastly, the socket outlets are grouped on a circuit known as the power circuit.

Every circuit is made up of cables, switches, connections and other electrical devices designed to carry the maximum current specified by the manufacturer. When exposed to currents greater than this maximum, the electrical component may break, melt, or catch fire. Circuit breakers are introduced to ensure that this does not happen by interrupting the power supply when the current flowing exceeds the maximum capacity that the circuit components can handle.

Overloaded circuits – the main cause of circuit breaker trips

Check all socket outlets around your home. How many devices are plugged into each socket outlet? The circuit is likely to get more than what it is designed for. The increasing use of our electrical and electronic devices puts more pressure on our electrical installations every day – sometimes the amount of electricity we use is more than the circuit can safely supply us without overheating or malfunctioning. When this happens, the circuit breaker in your switchboard will disconnect the circuit from the power supply.

Short circuits – when things go really wrong

Whether you’re digging in the garden for a nice new flower box, or drilling a hole in a wall to put up that cute family picture, every time you make a home change, there’s a risk of damaging electrical wires hidden behind walls or in the soil. When you drill a hole or cut through a cable with a spade, the individual wires in the cable come into direct contact. This is called a short circuit. Electrical cables are not designed to withstand the current flowing under such short circuit conditions. In such a situation, the short-circuit protection mechanism in the circuit breaker interrupts the power supply to ensure that the cable does not melt or catch fire.

Earth leakage current

Sometimes known as ground fault current or residual current, this is electricity that flows from an electrical installation to the ground or other conductive material of a house. Electrical systems are designed to pass current through live conductors of the installation. When appliances such as kettles, refrigerators and washing machines malfunction, they can conduct electrical currents through their metal parts into your body and down to the ground. This is a dangerous situation known as earth leakage. Certain types of circuit breakers known as residual current devices or ground fault current interrupters trip when they detect ground current to protect against electric shock.

In summary, there are only 3 very simple reasons why a circuit breaker trips:

1.) A circuit is overloaded, meaning there are more devices connected to it than the circuit can actually accommodate.

2.) There is a short circuit. Although less likely than an overload, the cable or other part of the fixed wiring can be damaged. You will need a qualified electrician to repair this fault and make your home safe again.

3.) A device causes an earth leakage current to flow. Of all the conditions, this is the most likely cause. The equipment always becomes faulty and as a result the circuit breaker keeps tripping.

What should you do if your circuit breaker keeps tripping?

Contact your local electrician to help find the cause. If you are in Perth, Western Australia, contact a Perth electrician or Perth electrical contractor.

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