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For the past 4 days our circuit breaker has tripped several times a day. On the box each fuse thing is labeled i.e. "Upstairs lights", "upstairs sockets" etc. Now normally if we have had a blown fuse on something, say my hairdryer, it has only tripped my bedroom, but this time it has tripped the whole breaker. None of the individual fuse things are switched off but the main dial is in the off position and you need to turn this to on for system to come back on. I can't seem to see what's setting it off; I haven't found a pattern to when it goes.

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So you are saying that the main breaker for the whole house is tripping? When it trips do you lose power to the whole house? That doesn't sound very good, you may have a bad main breaker, and that is NOT a DIY job so I would not attempt it. Something like that is best handled by a licensed electrician. –  maple_shaft Jan 31 '13 at 12:33
    
+1. Get a sparky. –  tomfanning Jan 31 '13 at 13:20
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have you installed; or are you using, any new electrical devices? Does this happen when you're using a specific device? –  Tester101 Jan 31 '13 at 13:25
    
There is a difference between an overload, and a short circuit. In an overload situation (like with the hair dryer), a device is drawing more current than the breaker is set for so the breaker trips. In this situation, the only way to trip the main is to have the whole panel overloaded. In a short circuit situation the current goes up so high so fast, any breaker along the line can trip (including those at transformers, and power stations). In a short circuit scenario, it's possible to see the device closest to the source (incoming power) open. –  Tester101 Jan 31 '13 at 13:37
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yes I lose power to the whole house. I have switched the individual fuses that are labeled emersion switch (as we don't have one) cooker unit (this only works the clock on the gas cooker) and down stairs lights off , the power so far is staying on but if I put any off these on the whole breaker trips. No I have not started using any new items and this sometimes happens when I have no items on –  Carrly forster Jan 31 '13 at 14:37
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1 Answer 1

Based on your confirmation that the main breaker is tripping, and your description here:

I have switched the individual fuses that are labeled emersion switch (as we don't have one) cooker unit (this only works the clock on the gas cooker) and down stairs lights off , the power so far is staying on but if I put any off these on the whole breaker trips.

This tells me that you do not have an overload situation. There is a short, and/or one or more faulty breakers possibly including the main breaker.

Even an experienced DIY'er with electrical knowledge would probably contact an electrician at this point. If there is a potential problem with the main breaker then it is best to get professional help.

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Many thanks, I will get my husband onto that when he flies home at weekend –  Carrly forster Jan 31 '13 at 14:53
    
@Carrlyforster Your welcome :) Stay safe! –  maple_shaft Jan 31 '13 at 14:54
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@Tester101 Come to think of it you are correct, it is more likely to be a short than a faulty breaker, but it still could be a faulty breaker. It is probably still best that she call an electrician unless she has experience with these kinds of things. –  maple_shaft Jan 31 '13 at 18:48
    
Seems to me any branch circuit short would trip the associated branch circuit breaker long before the main breaker would trip. So the only possible short would be the panel buss bars shorting to ground, (possibly the mounting insulators have perished) or each other(virtually impossible). Seems very unlikely for any panel new enough to have breakers installed. Seems more likely to me the breaker has gone bad, though I personally have never seen this happen. –  bcworkz Jan 31 '13 at 21:18
    
I'd look to the panel for something loose. Or rather, direct the professional to the panel to look for something loose. –  Bryce Aug 12 '13 at 18:30
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