Why Is My Circuit Breaker Hot? And What Are the Risks?
You are going on with your day when you pass by your circuit breaker and detect a faint smell of burning.
You place the back of your hand not on the circuit breaker but near it and feel an unusual warmth.
But before you start panicking and calling the fire department, here is a guide that will help you understand why your circuit breaker is hot, the risks involved and how you can solve this issue.
You are Overloading the Circuit
When you demand more juice from an electric circuit than it can handle, it leads to an overload as the excess current raises the temperature.
For instance, if you plug in power-hungry devices like air conditioners, hairdryers, heaters, electric stoves or grills in one electrical circuit, it might cause an overload.
This is because you are pushing the circuit to its limit, by forcing it to generate more energy thus raising the temperature it can withstand without tripping or falling.
Here is a table showing the maximum temperature some of the common circuit breakers can withstand, according to CSA Standard C22.1.
|Circuit Breaker Type||Maximum Temperature Rise|
|Moulded-case circuit breakers||60°C|
|Interrupter circuit breakers||75°C|
|Combination circuit breakers||85°C|
Remember, overloading your circuits may put stress on the wire insulation causing it to melt and ultimately causing a fire.
However, here are some of the ways you can solve the overloading problem:
- Avoid overloading your circuit. Instead, understand the power requirements of each device and redistribute the high-energy consumers across multiple devices.
- Use power strips or surge protectors with built-in circuit breakers. This enables you to connect more devices as each outlet has a circuit breaker, so only the affected outlet will trip in case of overloading.
- If your space does not have multiple circuits, consider installing a higher-capacity circuit breaker. Or you can add more circuits to handle the load by having experts like Complete Power Systems evaluate your electrical needs and develop a customized solution for your space.
The Wiring is Faulty
Electrical wiring deteriorates over time due to improper installation, environmental conditions, and wear and tear. So, when it becomes faulty, it struggles to handle power demands which lead to heat buildup and may even cause a fire if unattended.
But you can replace the faulty wiring and connections. However, this is not a task you should do yourself; instead have professionals do it.
Changing faulty wiring requires expertise, as it involves replacing damaged wires, tightening loose connections or upgrading your wiring system to meet the current standards or to hold more power.
The Breaker is Faulty
Even though a circuit breaker has a lifespan of 30 to 40 years, it can fail and overheat because of:
- Loose connection between the circuit breaker and wiring.
- Wear and tear of internal components in the circuit breaker.
- Manufacturing defects that you or the electrician involved may not have noticed during installation.
So, if your circuit breaker is faulty, you need to have it repaired or replaced immediately by an electrician as it poses a couple of risks.
For instance, a faulty circuit breaker can cause frequent tripping which increases the risk of damage to appliances, wiring, and other electrical devices.
Also, it can lead to excessive overheating which causes insulation breakdown, component failure, or even fire hazards.
But, there is still hope as you can catch the problem of a faulty breaker in time by scheduling regular maintenance and inspection.
Get Effective Solutions From Professional Electricians
When it comes to electrical issues, you are better off consulting professionals such as Complete Power Systems as they have the know-how, training, and expertise to give accurate diagnoses and effective solutions.
At Complete Power Systems, we meticulously inspect each circuit, the wiring, connectors, and other electrical components to identify the root cause of the overheating circuit breakers.
We then provide you with customized solutions to stop your circuit breaker from overheating while optimizing the usage of circuits and helping you conserve energy.
We also ensure that our solutions comply with the necessary regulations as we are conversant with the electrical codes and standards for safety.