Residential Electrician Dallas, Texas

Checking For A Bad Breaker

Home breakers protect the electrical system for your household. Breakers act as a safety precaution that trips under certain circumstances to protect appliances, outlets, and lighting fixtures and reduce the chance of igniting a fire or electrocution. Anytime a breaker trips, power to that specific breaker will terminate and power will no longer be available until the breaker is reset and/or the issue is resolved. 

If a breaker trips and is reset, yet there is still no power, it could be an indication that there is an issue with the wiring associated with that breaker, or potentially an issue with that particular circuit breaker.  If you find that resetting the breaker does not resolve the power issue, you will want to test to see if there is a bad breaker.

Breaker Box Dallas Texas
Breaker Box

Do you know how to check for a bad breaker? 

Home breakers are the lifeline of your household electrical needs. When a breaker trips, power to that particular outlet, light or appliance will no longer be available. If that occurs, you must reset the breaker. However, if the breaker has been reset but there is still no power, there is a problem with either the wiring in the circuit or the circuit breaker itself. The first thing to do is to test the breaker.

To check for a bad breaker, the only tools you need are a flathead screwdriver and a digital voltage meter. The first step in checking for a bad breaker is to unplug and/or switch off all of the electrical appliances, lighting and other fixtures that are connected to the wiring that comes from the breakers that you intend to test.

Once you have unplugged all electrical components, you can then remove the panel cover from the panel. To remove the panel cover, you take out the screws one by one and once you remove the last screw, it’s a good idea to make sure you hold your hand firmly against the face of the panel so it doesn’t fall off and then gently remove the panel cover and set it off to the side. Once you have the panel cover off, you can first flip the breaker on and off in an attempt to reset the breaker. If the breaker does not stay in the “on” position, then it is likely going to be a bad breaker.

Electrical Breaker Box Dallas Texas
Electrical Breaker Box

If you do have a voltage meter, you can take the red lead of your digital voltage meter and place it on the breaker terminal. Then take the black lead and place it on the neutral bar. The neutral bar is where all the white wires get connected. When you get your reading, it should be somewhere around 120 volts. Note that for the voltage meter to register,  the breaker MUST be set in the “on” position when you attempt to take the reading. To check for a bad breaker, simply repeat this process to test the breaker terminals individually, placing the red lead on the breaker terminal and the black lead on the neutral bar. If a breaker is bad, the meter should remain at zero volts.

To check for a double pole breaker, simply put the red and black leads on the breaker terminal. If the breaker is working properly, the meter should read up to 250 volts. If you find that a breaker is bad, you will need to replace the breaker. It is a good idea to call a licensed electrician so they can check the entire system to determine the cause of the faulty breaker and assess other breakers for potential damage or use. 

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