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What Are the Signs of a Bad Circuit Breaker?

Do you think your circuit breaker is broken?

We’ll help you troubleshoot this common electrical problem.

If your circuit breaker has gone bad, you may notice the following signs:

  1. Breaker trips frequently

  2. Breaker doesn’t stay reset

  3. Burning smell coming from the electrical panel

  4. Visible damage to the breaker or sockets

  5. Electrical irregularities

We’ll go into more detail about each of these signs below to help you decide when an electrician should replace your circuit breaker.

Need a professional to replace your circuit breaker?

Contact Climate Design today. Our licensed electricians will quickly diagnose the problem and replace or repair your broken circuit breaker.

Sign #1: Breaker trips frequently

If a breaker is tripping frequently, that could mean it’s starting to fail. That said, a breaker that trips frequently could also be a symptom of an issue with the appliance and/or wiring connected to the breaker, so it's best to ask a professional electrician to inspect your panelto determine the exact cause of the problem.

Sign #2: Breaker doesn’t stay reset

Does your breaker immediately trip after you reset it? Or does the breaker switch refuse to move at all?

If you notice either of those issues, the breaker has most likely failed completely. If that’s the case, an electrician will need to replace the breaker.

Sign #3: Burning smell coming from the electrical panel

If you notice a strong, fishy odor near the electrical panel, that could indicate your circuit breaker needs to be replaced.

The smell is usually caused when wiring or plastic overheats, which means the circuit breaker isn’t doing its job to shut off overpowering currents. In this situation, you should contact an electrician ASAP to prevent damage to your electrical appliance or even prevent an electrical fire.

Sign #4: Visible damage to the breaker or sockets

Scorch marks or sparks coming from the breaker or sockets are clear signs of an electrical problem that could include a faulty breaker. If you notice visible damage to your electrical fixtures or breaker, contact an electrician ASAP to find what is causing the problem.

Sign #5: Electrical irregularities

Have your electrical appliances or fixtures been acting strange recently?

If so, the culprit could be a faulty circuit breaker that needs to be replaced.

Examples of electrical irregularities that indicate a failing circuit breaker include:

  • Flickering lights or light bulbs that need to be replaced frequently

  • Washing machine or dryer turning off mid-cycle

  • An oven that fails to reach the set temperature

Still not sure if your breaker should be replaced or not? Consider an electrical inspection

If it has been 10 years or more since your home has had an electrical inspection, you should probably ask an electrician to visit your home and inspect your electrical panel and breakers.

During an inspection, an electrician can verify that your breakers are working properly, and replace any that are starting to show signs of excessive wear and tear. Proactively replacing an older breaker before it stops working will protect your home appliances and prevent hazards such as an electrical fire.

Need a professional to replace your circuit breaker? Call Climate Design.

Our team of highly-trained and experienced electricians can quickly determine whether your circuit breaker needs to be replaced. When you work with Climate Design, you can count on upfront, honest pricing and exceptional service for any electrical project.