Why is Main Circuit Breaker Stuck?
While that is one of the most common reasons why the main switch will not work, it is not the only possible reason.
It is also possible that you may have too many devices/appliances plugged into outlets in one area of your home, which can result in an overloaded circuit.
Many people may not know this; however, after the circuit breaker has taken most of the jolt from the overload, it will trigger the main switch to be tripped.
This means the main lever will likely switch to the “Off” position and it will remain in the off position until the breaker has had adequate time to cool down.
Usually, the problem you are experiencing with your circuit breaker main switch is an easy fix. With that said, let us get to possible reasons why this is happening so that the sooner you can get to the root of the problem and also the solution for the said issue.
1. Know Your Switches
It may sound ridiculous, but when you have to flip the main switch on your home’s circuit breaker, you will want to make sure you are indeed flipping the correct switch.
It is possible that you are flipping the wrong switch, which can result in you simply turning the power off and on for one particular area of electrical distribution.
It is equally possible that you may not be using enough force to flip the switch, as some main switch levers can be difficult to fully flip, especially on an aged unit. It is important to be sure that you are flipping the correct switch.
Otherwise, you risk triggering an electrical short by flipping one specific area of distribution again and again.
Fix – Flip The Correct Switch / Use Enough Force
In the event that you have to flip the main switch on your home’s circuit breaker, you will want to make sure that you are indeed flipping the actual main switch.
This is an easier mistake to make than one may think. You can find the circuit breaker for your home usually either outside nearby the electric meter or sometimes the breaker can also be found in the garage or a storage closet.
Typically the main switch can be identified by finding the largest lever that is also usually separate from the other series of switches.
Since the main switch controls the overall current for all of the outlets and light switches in your home, you will want to be sure that it is the correct switch.
It is equally important to also use enough force when flipping the main switch for the circuit breaker since sometimes the switch can be difficult to completely flip.
This especially applies to more aged units, since there is a higher chance of build-up in the switch and there could also even be rust on the switch.
While it is uncommon, the possibility of rust or build-up should not be counted out. While maintaining proper precautions, you may have to use both hands to flip the switch successfully.
2. There May Be an Overloaded Circuit
The reason why the main switch on your circuit breaker is sticking or keeps on flipping could be an overloaded circuit.
An overloaded circuit occurs when you have too many devices or appliances plugged into one area of electrical outlets.
Sure, using a breaker bar can help to prevent an overloaded circuit; however, an overloaded circuit can still occur when using a breaker bar. A breaker bar can also help to prevent electrical shorts.
In the scenario of an overloaded circuit, there is essentially too much power being pulled to one area of the electrical distribution, which will result in the main switch on the circuit breaker tripping.
The main circuit breaker switch being tripped by an overloaded circuit is not so much a bad thing as much as it is a precautionary measure.
This is one of the main purposes of a circuit breaker. The breaker will take the majority of the jolt that is created by an overloaded circuit; however, this will trip the main switch on the circuit breaker.
Fix – Inspect and Correct an Overloaded Circuit
If there is an overloaded circuit, the main switch on the circuit breaker will be tripped. This means that the switch will go into the “Off” position until it has cooled down and if the overloaded circuit has not been corrected, the breaker switch may trip again, which will result in the switch automatically flipping back on and then off.
As previously mentioned, this is a precautionary measure put into place to prevent a possible electrical fire. If you think this may be the case, you will want to find the area that is causing the circuit to be overloaded.
An area where an overloaded circuit will occur is typically somewhere where you have a lot of devices, electronics, and or appliances plugged into outlets.
This scenario points out the importance of spreading out where you plug items in and the balance that is essential to avoid causing a circuit overload.
If you believe this is the case, you will need to unplug everything in your home and reset the circuit breaker by flipping the main switch off and then back to on. After you have done that, you can begin plugging items back in.
3. It May Be an Electrical Short
Your problem here may be from an electrical short occurring somewhere in your home. An electrical short occurs when a neutral wire and a hot wire carrying a current touch each other, which will trigger the circuit breaker to flip.
This is another safety measure put into place to prevent further potential damage from occurring. So long as there is an electrical short occurring, the switch on the circuit breaker will continue to trip.
This means the main switch for the circuit breaker will likely not stay in the on position. Instead, the breaker will continue to trip immediately following a reset attempt.
Fix – Call an Electrician
If the main switch on your circuit breaker will not reset or is immediately tripped following a reset attempt, it very well could be due to an electrical short.
If you believe that the reason why the main switch on your circuit breaker is stuck is because of an electrical short, you will need to call a licensed electrician.
This is because electricity is very dangerous to work with if you do not know what you are doing and is better off being left to a licensed professional who can not only locate and identify the short but they can also safely repair or fix the electrical issue.
4. Possible Faulty Breaker
Now, it not only takes a lot of time but also a lot of damage to break a breaker. This makes this possible reason unlikely but it is still a possibility.
A faulty circuit breaker can result in the main switch not flipping or simply not functioning properly. A broken or damaged circuit breaker is not a good day but it is something you will want to get replaced or repaired.
Fix – Call an Electrician For Assistance
Working with electricity is a project that should not be taken lightly.
If you have no previous experience with electrical work or simply do not have enough time in your day to assess the damage or issue with the circuit breaker, you will want to call a licensed professional electrician.
It may cost you; however, it is better than electric shock potentially costing you your life.
5. There’s Build Up on The Switch
When you have to flip the main switch on your circuit breaker and the switch will not flip, it could be due to a build-up between the lever. Ideally, you want the switch to be able to flip on and off efficiently.
Fix – Clear The Debris
If you believe that the reason why the main switch on your circuit breaker is stuck is because of a build-up between the lever, then you will want to clear the debris.
You can carefully do this with an old toothbrush and some protective gloves. Use the old toothbrush or small brush to cautiously clear the debris. The debris could include dirt, dust, and even pine needles.
Remember, when you are doing anything with a circuit breaker, you should also use caution. A circuit breaker is the central control station for all of the power distributed in your home, which means you are dealing with electricity and should be done with extreme caution.