Electrical tripping or the tripping of circuit breaker is something we encounter many times in our life. Most of the time we just lift the lever at the circuit breaker and everything goes back to normal. However, sometimes it keeps tripping and this makes it important to find out the cause of the electrical tripping so that you can avoid unnecessary electrical risk.
Let us first understand what a circuit breaker is. The circuit breaker is an electrical device or system which controls individual circuits and acts as a secondary protection when the individual circuit breaker malfunctions. Most of the time, your living room is wired under one or two circuits, kitchen is wired under another circuit, individual bedrooms are wired by another circuit. If the individual circuit trip (e.g. kitchen), you know that it is an issue related to that area (i.e. an appliance in the kitchen). The main circuit breaker is usually located at the top of the circuit breaker panel. It is the switch which controls the power to the other individual circuits and is able to supply or shut off electrical supply to the entire house.
Lightning can sometimes cause the main circuit breaker to trip. When an individual circuit breaker is faulty and not able to trip, the main breaker may also trip as a form of secondary safety feature to shut off the electrical supply from the individual circuit.
The procedure to switch the main circuit on after a trip is to switch off all the individual circuits first. The first reason for doing so is because you do not want the electrical load from the individual circuits to rush all at once and cause another possible trip. The second reason is to test for the possible faulty individual circuit. After switching off all the individual circuits, you can switch on the main circuit. Thereafter, you switch on each individual circuit one at a time. If the main circuit trips after you switch on a particular individual circuit, it is advisable to call an electrician to check on your circuit breaker.
The most likely causes of individual circuit electrical tripping are usually the overloading of the circuit, short circuiting and improper grounding. It is more likely that only one of the individual circuit will trip at one point in time which will only affect one area of the house.
If you have many appliances connected and draw electricity altogether from one location of your house, the individual circuit from that location may trip. This is the most common reason for electrical tripping of individual circuit. Appliances like water heater, kettle, iron, etc. draws alot of electricity. If you have all of them connected in one place, it is very likely that they will trip the circuit. By shifting them to another location, you spread the load to other individual circuit and avoid the electrical trip.
When a live wire touches a neutral wire, a short circuit will occur. When there is a short circuit due to electrical appliances or internal wiring, you will experience the electrical tripping of your circuit breaker. You have to identify the electrical appliance that causes the individual circuit to trip. If it is internal wiring, you have to get the electrician to troubleshoot and perform a re-wiring of electrical cables in your house.
Grounding problem occurs when the grounding or earthing is not done properly. If the live wire comes into contact with the earth wire or the metal surfaces which is connected to the earth wire, electrical tripping is likely to occur.
Regardless of whether the electrical tripping is from individual circuit breaker or main circuit breaker, you should watch out from burn marks and smell. If you notice any of this, the fuse of the circuit breaker or the circuit breaker itself may be damage. The wisest thing to do is to engage an electrician to check on it.