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How to Reset a Tripped Circuit Breaker? – A Proper Guide

Writen by Edwin Jones

Fact checked by Andrew Wright

how to reset a tripped circuit breaker

Sudden tripping of circuit breakers when you are doing your daily tasks such as heating food in a microwave and using a hair blower can be a nuisance. Fortunately, resetting different circuit breaker types is an easy and safe task that you can do, even if you are not a professional electrician.

Additionally, knowing how to reset a tripped circuit breaker will also help you save money. When you know how to do this, you won’t need to call a professional for this basic job. Read on for steps in resetting a typical circuit breaker as well as GFCI and AFCI devices.

Tools You Need

  • Flashlight – It is advisable to bring a flashlight if your breaker box is in a dark room and its lights are connected to your tripped breaker. It will help you locate your breaker box quickly and safely.
  • Electrical lamp – When resetting a GFCI and AFCI circuit breaker, having an electrical lamp is a great help for testing them.
  • Gloves
  • Safety glasses

 

A Proper Guide for Resetting Circuit Breakers

breaker-popped

Step 1. Turn Off the Lights and Unplug All the Appliances

Before you untrip a breaker, it is good to switch off all the lights and unplug all the appliances linked to its circuit.

This way, you can also determine if a short circuit or overload caused the immediate tripping of the circuit breaker. At the same time, you will also know which appliance caused the trip.

Step 2. Locate the Breaker Box

After disconnecting all the devices, you can now find the breaker box. A circuit breaker box is commonly found in the basement of residential homes. It is also primarily installed in an apartment’s hallway, where renters have easy access to.

Afterwards, you may open the door and see which breaker is tripped, whether it’s a circuit breaker in apartment or a home.

If you don’t know how to tell if a breaker is tripped, look at the toggle switch. The breaker was tripped if the switch is in the middle position.

Step 3. Reset the Circuit Breaker

You can flip the breaker into the off position and turn it back to the on position to reset a breaker. If the breaker trips after resetting, the fault is in one of the appliances on its circuit.

In this case, you may refer to our tips in another section below.

This video by Southwest Industrial Electric demonstrates how to perform a standard circuit breaker reset.

How to Reset a Circuit Breaker with Test Button?

Some types of circuit breakers have a test button for testing the breakers. These are the Ground Fault Circuit Breakers (GFCI), Arc Fault Circuit Breakers (AFCI), and the combination GFCI and AFCI type of breakers. These breakers have special features to detect different electrical faults.

The manufacturer requires these different breakers to be manually reset at least every month. It is to conduct a maintenance test for the circuit breakers to ensure their safety. To test the GFCI, AFCI, and the combination circuit breakers, you can follow the guide below.

Step 1. Plug in a Lamp

To test your GFCI or AFCI breakers, you can connect a lamp to your circuit. The lamp should have functional lights so that you can see if the circuit breaker is functioning after performing a test.

Step 2. Press the Reset Button

The test button represents the arc fault or a ground fault in the circuit. By pressing the test button of the circuit breaker, the switch should go into a trip position. In this scenario, the light on the lamp should turn off as the breaker gets tripped.

Step 3. Reset the Breaker

Like resetting a normal circuit breaker, a GFCI and AFCI also needs you to flip the switch off and flip it to the on position. After flipping on the switch, the lamp’s light should also turn on.

If any of these breakers did not work as described, I highly suggest calling a professional to check them immediately.

I also suggest watching this video by This Old House to learn more about GFCI and AFCI. It will surely educate you about the two types of circuit breakers and show you an example of what those breakers can do.

What to Do if the Breaker Flipped Again After Resetting?

When a plugged-in appliance instantly tripped the breaker, it is most likely due to a circuit overload. It signifies that your circuit is insufficient to meet all of your devices’ power requirements.

Upgrading the circuit and wire size is ideal if you want to keep utilizing all of your appliances on that circuit.

However, if a popped circuit breaker immediately got into the tripped position after resetting, the problem may not be solved. The short and ground fault is still present, which needs repair.

To fix tripped breaker, you need to find what causes the tripping. Turn all devices on the circuit off, then turn on one appliance at a time. If the breaker popped after you plug in a washing machine, for example, that machine is the problem.

It’s also possible that the outlets, terminals, or the breaker is the issue instead, especially if you see scorch marks. In these cases, I recommend hiring an electrician.

What if the Breaker Is on but No Power Comes?

breaker-flipped

The cause may be an electrical, circuit breaker, or outlet and receptacle problem. In this case, calling a professional electrician to diagnose your electrical system is a wise decision.

  • Remember: Do not attempt any DIY solutions when you reset circuit breaker still no power, especially if you are unfamiliar with household electricals. Working with high voltage electricity can result in serious physical injuries as well as extensive property damage.

Is it Safe to Reset a Tripped Breaker?

Many homeowners call a professional electrician when sudden tripping of circuit breakers occurs on their circuit. However, most of the time, one only needs to reset the circuit breaker to be able to bring back the electricity again.

Remember that it is safe to reset a circuit breaker, especially when you’re only doing it once after the sudden tripping occurs. On the other hand, calling a professional is needed if you still find the circuit breaker not working after you reset it.

Conclusion

Knowing the basics on how to reset a tripped circuit breaker on your own will help you save money.

However, remember that repeatedly resetting the circuit breaker is not good. When the circuit breaker immediately trips after resetting, the fault is still present and needs to be diagnosed and repaired by a professional electrician.

How frequent is the tripping of circuit breaker occurring in your place? Is there anything you want to know about resetting a circuit breaker? Let us know in the comment section below.

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