Commercial & Residential
Electrical Contractor

The Basics of How a Circuit Breaker Works

Many of us leave things such as circuit breaker knowledge up to our electrician. Although it’s wise to not mess with electrical issues yourself, understanding the basics of how a circuit breaker works brings a certain level of safety to your home as you have the knowledge to recognize warning signs.

What Is a Circuit Breaker?

Somewhere in every home—usually the basement—there’s a metal box containing all of the breakers for that home. We usually run down to it out of frustration because an appliance has stopped working.

Each breaker is connected to an electrical wire which runs through the house. As the wire is used—in any form, whether through a powered appliance or light switch—the electrical current runs through the circuit breaker and over a small piece of solder which the breaker is attached to.

When overheated, the solder melts enough to trip the metal spring that attaches the breaker to it. This trips the circuit, and your appliance stops working. It serves as a warning.

Once the solder cools down, the breaker can be reset.

Why Does Every Home Need Circuit Breakers?

Without circuit breakers, a homeowner has no warning that there may be a wiring issue.

When a circuit breaker keeps tripping, it should be used as a sign to call an electrician. Although a homeowner is often able to flip the breaker and get an appliance working again, that doesn’t mean the issue is fixed, especially if it happens often. The wiring may not be the proper gauge.

Transfer of Heat

We’ve all experienced it before. We’re in the basement doing loads of laundry, when suddenly—the washing machine won’t turn on. A trip to the circuit breaker box fixes it as we flip the tripped breaker back into position.

What we may not realize is the breaker just saved our washing machine from getting burnt out.

Basically, when the wiring can’t handle the load and becomes overheated, rather than have your appliance burn out or a fire possibly start, the circuit breaker is taking the heat instead.

Get to know the basics of how a circuit breaker works and contact C&S Electric of Louisburg LLC, your residential licensed electricians, when circuit breakers are giving you a warning.