What to Do When Circuit Breaker Won’t Reset

What to Do When Circuit Breaker Won’t Reset

A circuit breaker is an essential component of your electrical system that protects your home from electrical overloads. It is designed to automatically shut off the flow of electricity when it detects an excessive current. However, there are instances when the circuit breaker refuses to reset, leaving you in the dark or without power. In this article, we will explore some common reasons why a circuit breaker won’t reset and what you can do to troubleshoot the issue.

Possible Causes of a Circuit Breaker Not Resetting

1. Overloaded Circuit: One of the most common reasons for a circuit breaker not resetting is an overloaded circuit. An overloaded circuit occurs when too many electrical devices are connected to a single circuit, causing it to trip. To fix this issue, unplug or turn off some devices and then try resetting the breaker.

2. Short Circuit: A short circuit occurs when a hot wire comes into contact with a neutral wire or a ground wire, causing a surge of electricity. This surge can trip the circuit breaker and prevent it from resetting. To fix a short circuit, you need to identify and repair the location of the short before attempting to reset the breaker.

3. Ground Fault: Similar to a short circuit, a ground fault occurs when a hot wire comes into contact with a ground wire or a grounded part of the electrical system. This can also cause the circuit breaker to trip and refuse to reset. To troubleshoot a ground fault, you may need to check the wiring and outlets for any signs of damage or loose connections.

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4. Faulty Breaker: Sometimes, the issue lies with the circuit breaker itself. Over time, circuit breakers can wear out or become faulty, causing them to trip or refuse to reset. If you suspect a faulty breaker, it is best to contact a professional electrician to inspect and replace the breaker if necessary.

Steps to Troubleshoot a Circuit Breaker That Won’t Reset

1. Identify the Tripped Circuit: Check your electrical panel to identify which circuit breaker has tripped. Look for any switches that are in the “off” position or in a mid-position between “on” and “off.”

2. Turn Off All Devices: To prevent an overload, turn off or unplug all devices that were connected to the tripped circuit.

3. Reset the Circuit Breaker: Push the tripped circuit breaker switch firmly to the “off” position and then back to the “on” position. You should feel some resistance when pushing it back on.

4. Test the Circuit: After resetting the breaker, slowly turn on each device connected to the circuit one by one. If the breaker trips again, you may have a faulty device or a more significant issue that requires professional assistance.


Q: Can I reset a circuit breaker without turning off the main power?

A: It is generally recommended to turn off the main power before resetting a circuit breaker to ensure your safety. However, if you are confident in your abilities and have experience working with electricity, you may attempt to reset the breaker without turning off the main power. Proceed with caution and at your own risk.

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Q: How often should I replace my circuit breakers?

A: Circuit breakers can last for many years, but they may need to be replaced if they become faulty or if you are upgrading your electrical system. It is best to consult a professional electrician to assess the condition of your circuit breakers.

Q: Why does my circuit breaker keep tripping?

A: Circuit breakers can trip due to a variety of reasons, including overloaded circuits, short circuits, ground faults, or faulty breakers. If your circuit breaker keeps tripping frequently, it is essential to investigate the cause and resolve the issue to prevent electrical hazards.

In conclusion, a circuit breaker that won’t reset can be frustrating, but with some troubleshooting steps, you can often identify and resolve the issue. However, if you are unsure or uncomfortable working with electricity, it is always best to seek professional assistance to ensure your safety and prevent further damage to your electrical system.