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How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad? A Simple but Detailed Guide

Not sure if your circuit breaker has gone bad? Here’s a simple but detailed guide on how to spot a bad breaker and how to change it. For more information, call (970) 222-4740.

Can a circuit breaker go bad? Yes, of course, it can. How to tell if a circuit breaker is bad? Now that is a trickier question. If you think there is some issue with your breaker, it is best to call electrical contractors to decide if a replacement is necessary. Here is our guide to help you find out if your circuit breaker is faulty and replace the circuit breaker switch.

How to Check if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad?

Voltage switchboard with a broken circuit breaker on electrical background

Take the following three steps to diagnose your circuit breaker:

1. Find the Problem-Causing Circuit

The first step is to find the particular circuit associated with the tripping breaker. Read the label near the breaker that is tripping and find the circuit it helps protect by going through the sheet on the panel’s door.

2. Disconnect All Devices Plugged into the Circuit

More often than not, it is an overload that is causing problems. Trying to reset the house circuit breaker is not the solution at this point. First, all the devices connected to the circuit have to be unplugged.

3. Reset the Circuit Breaker

Now is the time to reset the circuit breaker and listen to the ‘click’ sound. Not hearing any sounds is one of the bad circuit breaker symptoms.

Can a Circuit Breaker Fail Without Tripping?

Anything from an overload or electrical short to a ground fault can cause circuit breaker problems. Circuit breakers are supposed to fail off to save the appliances in your home. But in some cases, they fail without tripping. This can damage the appliances or the breaker box. 

Bad circuit breaker with voltage switchboard open

How to Change a Circuit Breaker

It is important to know the exact type, brand, and size of the breaker so that you can buy a new one that can replace a failed or broken circuit breaker. There is a small label near the reset lever of the circuit breaker that has the identification numbers. This will help you buy the right one. If you have screwdrivers, a flashlight, safety glasses, and a new circuit breaker, it’s time to get to work.

1. Turn Off the Main Power

It is always best to turn off the main power to be on the safer side. Flip the main circuit breaker to the off position. All branch circuits will be shut off now.

2. Remove the Breaker Panel Cover Plate

Starting from the corner screws, remove all the screws of the panel cover plate and set it aside.

3. Remove the Old Circuit Breaker

Turn off the broken circuit breaker by flipping it to the off position. Extend the black insulated circuit wire out and carefully hold the edge of the old breaker and pull it towards the outside of the panel. When completely pulled out, it becomes inactive.

4. Disconnect the Wires

The black circuit wire is the first to be removed from the breaker. Check the circuit breaker for a neutral circuit wire connection and a white pigtail wire. These have to be disconnected next.

5. Connect the Wires to the New Circuit Breaker

The new breaker reset lever must be in the off position before the installation. Attach the black wire to the new circuit breaker. Also, connect the white neutral circuit wire and the coiled white wire to the respective screw terminals.

6. Insert the New Circuit Breaker

Insert the new house circuit breaker into the breaker panel. You will hear a click once it slides into position. Insert the excess wire into the panel carefully.

7. Put On the Panel Cover and Turn On the Power

Put back the panel cover and flip the levers on the individual circuit breakers to the off position. Now flip the main circuit breaker lever to the on position and then the individual breakers one after the other.

House circuit breaker on the electronic circuit; a 3D illustration

Need Help with the Bad Circuit Breaker? Call Us Today

If you are aware of circuit breaker failure causes, it becomes easy to troubleshoot what has actually happened. If you are not sure how to fix the circuit breaker problems, call our technicians to get help.

Our services are provided in and around:

  • Bellevue, CO
  • Wellington, CO
  • Fort Collins, CO

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