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Why Does a Space Heater Trips the Circuit Breaker: 4 Causes

Written by Edwin Jones / Fact checked by Andrew Wright

why does a space heater trips the circuit breaker

It’s common for high-load appliances to trip breakers, and space heaters are no exception to this rule.

If you own one of these devices, you may be wondering “Why does a space heater trips the circuit breaker?”

The most common reason is circuit overloads. However, there are other factors as well. Read on for more info.

4 Possible Reasons Why Electric Heater Keeps Tripping Breaker?


Sudden tripping of the space heater circuit breaker during cold days will surely give you a headache. An even more aggravating scenario is when you don’t know how to stop the space heater from tripping the breaker.

To give you an idea of where to start your repair, most of the time, there are four possible reasons. It may be because of circuit overloads, heat build-up on the wire, a faulty space heater, or a damaged circuit breaker. For a better explanation of each possible cause, here is an overview.

1. Circuit Overload

One safety feature of a circuit breaker is to trip when it detects a circuit overload. In detail, overloading of circuits occurs when the load needed exceeds the circuit breaker’s load capacity. It happens when you have too many high-powered devices on one circuit.

If your space heater has to share a circuit with other gadgets, there is a high possibility that an overload is a problem.

In this case, you can unplug all the appliances and try to reset the tripped breaker. Afterward, you can now plug in your space heater without connecting other appliances or devices.

This should keep the space heater from tripping the breaker.

2. Heat Build-up on Wire


Another reason why space heater keeps tripping the breaker is frequent heating in the wire. It happens when you use an extension cord, which may result in high resistance.

As a result, the circuit breaker needs to draw too much current as it needs to travel far along your cable. This results in circuit overloads, and the portable heater trips breaker.

The solution is to make your electrical cord shorter.

This video by 11Alive will help you understand why using a power strip for your space heater is not a good idea. They verify the fact that using an extension cord can cause a fire due to overloading and overheating of wire.

3. Faulty Space Heater

If the space heater trips the breaker after a few minutes of being on, there is a chance that you have a faulty warmer. A faulty space heater might provide more (or less) than its normal temperature, which may cause overheating of the unit and trip the breaker.

Moreover, a damaged part such as broken wiring and a malfunctioning fan can be the reason for overheating.

To solve this problem of overheating and the space heater tripping breaker, you can unplug your unit and let it cool for about an hour before using it again. If your circuit breaker continues to trip, the space heater might not work properly and it may require repair.

Reading and posting on sites such as Reddit about your problem may help you troubleshoot your unit. However, if you are unfamiliar with electrical systems, hiring a professional technician is the best option.

4. Damaged Circuit Breaker

If all the aforementioned causes aren’t applicable and your space heater still trips your breaker, you might have a faulty circuit breaker.

A damaged circuit breaker is an electrical hazard that can start a fire and damage your property. Clearly, a space heater that won’t trip break even if overloading occurs in your circuit is hazardous.

Constantly switching the breaker on and off, including during circuit overloads and overheating, can cause wear and tear to your circuit breaker. As a result, it may constantly be tripping or stays on as it becomes less effective.

There is a simple way to know if you have a faulty breaker. You just need to unplug your space heater, reset the circuit breaker and try using the latter with other devices with a lower current rating. You might have a faulty or damaged circuit breaker if the breaker still trips.

In case of replacing the breaker or fixing the circuit, calling a professional electrician is a good decision, especially if you don’t know what to do.


Do you think you can troubleshoot your circuit now that you know why does a space heater trips the circuit breaker? Did you experience any of the four possible causes we described above? Let me know what you think in the comments section below.

Remember to be careful when inspecting your electrical system.

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