How to Tell If a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

How to Tell If a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

The lights have gone out; the computer is dark and silent; the fridge has finally stopped making that humming noise you are always meaning to check out. However, none of these things has happened because you turned them off, or fixed the fridge. What could the problem be? It could be a circuit breaker, or it could be a more serious electrical problem. Knowing how to check your circuit breaker is an excellent way to avoid unnecessary service fees from an electrician, and it will also help you to get your lights back on faster. You’re on your own with that noise the fridge makes.


Make sure the breaker isn’t simply tripped. Check to see if the breaker switch has flipped from the ON position to the OFF position. If it has, then switch it back and if the problem is solved, then you can be sure that your breaker is working fine. If that wasn’t the problem, you will need to follow the rest of these steps.


Force the breaker completely into an “OFF” position, and then turn it firmly back ON. Repeat it again, with the wire removed from the breaker. The latter should be repeated especially if the breaker didn’t stay on or there was a humming sound when switched to on. These are all signs of a short, meaning that the breaker is still good but there is likely a problem with the wiring.


Remove the wire. If the turned-on breaker screw reads hot for a neon or volt tester, it is probably good. In this case, there could be damage to the breaker panel; this would require that you replace the panel.


By running a light bulb or a Wiggin’s tester between the screw and a ground in the panel, you could also detect if the breaker has gone bad. The breaker has malfunctioned if these do not run.


Moving the questioned breaker wire to another breaker is actually the easiest and most efficient test. Be sure to turn both breakers off while moving the wire and then turn the new breaker back on. If the problem doesn’t persist with the other breaker, this means that the previous one was bad.


One last test would be to turn of the breaker off, remove it, reset it to on, and check with an ohmmeter between its screw and its bus clip. If it reads more than 5 ohms, it is bad.


Tips & Warnings
1.Always turn off each breaker before removing it from the panel.

2.Always check your breaker panel thoroughly before purchasing another or calling the electrician.