Electrical problems are complicated. There can be any number of reasons for flickering lights, which is why professionals exist to isolate and determine the nature of problems. But what many people don’t realize is the problem can often be traced back to the source: the circuit breaker. Which can make fixing the problem a little bit more complicated.

When your power cuts out, you probably have been told to check the breaker.

This panel of switches, usually located in a basement or utility area, is the board which regulates the flow of electricity to different parts of the house and prevents overloading wires which make cause a fire from overheating. They automatically trip to cut off currents if overloading occurs. So, it’s important to make sure they work and work well.

Below are some common problems that may go back to a faulty circuit breaker and you may want to call an electrician.

Flickering Lights

Lights shouldn’t flicker. That’s probably obvious. But when it happens it could be for a few different reasons. The first thing to check is the bulb. Make sure the bulb is good and the wattage is correct. If it’s not the bulb, check the power source and plug. By process of elimination you may find the problem is more at the source of electricity, especially if multiple lights are flickering.

Oddly Behaving or Damaged Appliances

If you’ve got appliances suddenly offering much lower output—the oven won’t get hot, the dryer shuts off mid cycle—then it could be a sign something is wrong with the circuit breaker. Another warning sign is that appliances are fully shutting off or even becoming damaged from power overloads. This can even happen in bulbs that burn out quickly after being installed. Uneven and inconsistent power input is a common cause for multiple appliance failures.

Burning Smells

If you’ve isolated issues to the breaker but are not quite sure what’s wrong, one warning sign could be a burning smell coming from the breaker itself. This is indicative of the insulation of the wires failing to keep the current contained and prevent overheating. Not only does this mean power could fail, it could be a fire hazard if the circuit breaker is left unchecked. Immediately turn off the power to prevent any further damage.

Related Questions

How long does a circuit board last for?

Circuit breakers have a life expectancy of 30 to 40 years, so if your house is younger than that it shouldn’t be an issue. But knowing the age of your house can help you pinpoint circuit breaker issues.

What causes circuit breakers to fail?

Several factors can do damage to circuit breakers and shorten their life span. Heat, dust, and moisture can cause damage, frequent power overloads can wear down a breaker, but the most damaging factor is ESD, electrostatic discharge.

Talk to a professional electrician if you suspect your circuit breaker is faulty or failing and get it looked at immediately.

Bratcher Electric can help with all electrical upgrades and services needed in your home. We are a full service electrical contracting firm that has been working with businesses and residents throughout Michigan 50+ years. We take care of our customers by providing complete customer satisfaction for every job we perform; residential, commercial, and industrial.

Our electrical services include new home wiring, generator service and installation, electrical code and service upgrades, surge protection and much more! Contact us today for a Free Consultation!