I was running the vacuum cleaner in my bed room this morning and suddenly the outlet went dead. I went to the power box and saw that all the circuit breakers were on. I then turned off the circuit breaker for my room and put it back in the on position. It appears to have solved the problem.

I am thinking that I over loaded the circuit but if that was the case, I would have expected the circuit breaker to be in the off position. It was in the on position. Do all circuit breakers move to the offset position when they shut off the circuit?

Assuming that this does not happen again, my plan is not to worry about it.

Note: I am in the United States of America

As it turned out, it did happen again. I called an electrician and he diagnosed the problem as a bad outlet. He then replaced the outlet. Now, I believe thew problem is solved.

  • 4
    Most breakers when tripped do not move all the way off, might even move just a tiny amount. Usually need to move the breaker to the off position before switching back on. Usually a vacuum not big enough to overload the breaker without help, like a space heater on also. If only lights/radio were on, then the wires in the vacuum might be failing/touching where they are not suppose to touch.
    – crip659
    Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 14:37
  • 1
    Which country's breakers? The ones I've seen tripped in the UK (admittedly not that many) have all been definitely off when tripped.
    – TripeHound
    Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 19:58
  • @TripeHound I am in the United States
    – Bob
    Commented Nov 1, 2023 at 21:29

3 Answers 3


As others have already answered, often the breaker handle won't move. There are two big reasons for this:

  • AFCI, GFCI - Breakers with additional modes beyond overcurrent tripping will turn off in way that may not involve the same physical action inside the breaker, and therefore not flip the breaker handle itself. That is more common in newer homes because older ones don't usually have AFCI or GFCI breakers. If your breaker has a "TEST" button or any indicator lights on it then this is likely the answer.
  • Breakers are designed to trip even if they can't move the handle. A worst case scenario: The breaker is physically locked in place to avoid tampering (that is only supposed to be done under very limited circumstances, but people do stuff they shouldn't). The circuit overloads for whatever reason. Because the breakers are designed to trip (stopping current flow) even if the handle can't move, the breaker will still trip properly. But a side-effect is that sometimes breakers, even though they usually will move the handle, don't move the handle when they trip, even when not locked in place.
  • When breakers are tripped but stay in the ON position, the handle takes almost no force to flip. All you really need is to lightly run your fingers across all the ON breakers, applying very slight pressure, and you'll find the tripped breaker very quickly.
    – Nelson
    Commented Nov 2, 2023 at 5:55

Some circuit breakers' handles don't move all the way to the off position when the breaker trips. The breaker handle may have partially moved. Or there may another indicator: In my house when growing up, the breakers had a red flag appear in a window when the breaker was tripped, and the handle didn't move that I can remember.


You plan is OK, a vacuum shouldn't really cause an issue so it would be good to see if you can reduce the existing load.

When circuit breakers trip the handles generally move to a visible position, but I have experienced many times that I could not see the tripped breaker. Often less than normal pressure applied to the tripped breaker will move the handle.

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