What to do if my circuit breaker won’t reset? Here’s a rundown of steps to take:
- Refrain from turning it on if it keeps tripping, especially if you’re not aware of the problem yet.
- If it resets once you remove a wire, it’s likely an overload issue.
- Use a multimeter with a divide-and-conquer approach to discover the culprit.
- If the breaker’s faulty, you’ll need to replace it.
- Call an electrician to confirm and solve your problem if it continues.
Continue reading to get more detailed answers.
Table of Contents
Are You Sure that You’re Resetting the Breaker Correctly?
I’m asking this because a lot of homeowners make this mistake and assume their tripped breaker won’t reset because it’s already busted. Make sure you’re turning the switch fully to the “Off” position and then to the “On” position to reset the breaker.
Most breakers will make a clicking sound once you’ve done either of those two steps and may require extra pressure to set properly. Didn’t hear them? There is a high chance your breaker not resetting is because you’re not doing it properly.
Use a Multimeter or Ohm Meter to Check the Breaker
I highly suggest you put on safety equipment when you decide to do this and make sure that there’s no voltage on the breaker. If you’re not sure of your ability to handle electricity, then DO NOT proceed with these steps. Skip to the third one or, better yet, call an electrician to do it for you.
If you know how to use a multimeter and know your basic wiring, it’s not hard to do, though:
- Measure continuity between hot and ground and hot and neutral at the main circuit breaker. If there’s continuity present in either one, that’s likely why the breaker’s fuse switch won’t stay on.
- Chances are, the main circuit breaker won’t reset because there’s already a problem (e.g. faulty wiring, open ground, or short circuits) with the house lines. Most of these are common AC circuit breaker problems if that happens to be what you’re specifically dealing with.
There’s no other way to solve any of these issues than to hire an electrician to fix them for you, instead of consulting on Reddit where you can’t be sure that you’re getting safe and effective advice. If you didn’t see any problem related to them, you can test each circuit being served by the breaker with what some electricians term divide and conquer.
Do the Divide and Conquer Method
It’s simple, you just need to unplug every outlet connected to the circuit breaker one by one and try to reset the breaker. Another approach to this is to unplug all of them first then plug them in one by one, too.
What you’re doing here is finding out the exact appliance that’s causing the problem. You’re only checking for possible faulty gadgets and devices that could be the primary suspects if you do this, though.
Note: Be sure that you’ve disconnected all the wires and appliances connected to the breaker. Even I often tend to overlook some fixtures now and then.
If you’ve plugged a certain number of appliances and the breaker still stays on after resetting, you’re most likely dealing with an overload or a faulty appliance.
- It could be the former if the breaker trips after you plug in another appliance.
- It could be if the latter main circuit breaker won’t reset and trips every time you plug in a specific appliance. Check whether that appliance feels hotter than your other equipment; if it is, you can confirm your suspicion.
If a GFCI circuit breaker won’t reset, will this method also work? Yes! I would unplug everything from the circuit first and then attempt to reset the breaker again. If it resets once you do this, you’ve also got a problem with the circuit.
When to Replace Your Breaker
If the breaker won’t reset nothing plugged in and you’ve done all the steps above, you can start considering the possibility that it’s broken. There’s no way to repair it so shopping for a new one is the only way to go.
It’s possible to replace a breaker without hiring an electrician. If you decide to skip to this step, I suggest you read up on how to do it and watch this excellent demonstration:
The answer to “What to do if my circuit breaker won’t reset?” varies and may require you to perform one easy step or numerous consecutive ones that will inevitably solve the problem’s root cause.
At best, it mirrors the problems of circuit breakers that don’t trip, some of which are dangerous. I suggest you hire professional help if you’re not sure that you can do the more technical stuff and have performed all the safest options available to you.
I am Andrew Wright. With 8 years of experience designing, installing, and maintaining electrical power systems. I love my job, and I have always wanted to offer others the necessary help so they can take care of their houses.