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Electrical Education

How To Tell if A Circuit Breaker Is Bad

By 23/11/2020November 30th, 2020No Comments
burnt electrical breaker

How to Tell if Your Breaker is Bad

Did you know that the circuit breaker was invented by Thomas Edison? Since then, circuit breakers have been a central safety feature of most electrical installations.

The trouble is, if a circuit breaker isn’t working properly, then you’re not getting the protection that has saved thousands of homes and businesses over the years from an electrical disaster.

Read on to learn how to tell if your circuit breaker is bad or starting to fail.

Burning Smell

A telltale sign that there’s a problem with your circuit breaker is a smell of burning.

Circuit breakers aren’t meant to burn, so if there is a burning smell then something is definitely wrong. Turn off the electricity at the mains, and contact a professional electrician immediately.

Don’t turn the power back on until the problem has been rectified or you may be risking damage to your home or personal injury.


Before a circuit breaker can burn, it needs to get hot. You may be able to notice the increase in temperature before the smell of burning ever occurs.

If you notice that your circuit breaker is running hot, then this is probably a sign that there is a problem. If left unchecked, the heat could build up and cause burning to start.

As soon as you discover your circuit breaker is hot, you should try and find a solution before things get out of hand.

If your concerned about overheating you can contact a local electrician to do a heat scan on your electrical system like in the image below.

Circuit Breakers going bad

Signs of Wear

Burning and overheating often take place when you’re not around to notice. However, there are telltale signs that damage to your breakers are occurring.

If you notice burn marks on your circuit breaker or signs that parts of it have melted, then it’s likely that there was overheating at some point in the past. It could be that the problem could occur again, so you should get your circuit breaker looked at as soon as possible.

There may be other signs of wear too, such as fraying or loose wires, or other parts that appear to be coming loose. If your circuit breaker is looking worn, it may be time for a replacement.

Tripping with No Load

Circuit breakers are designed to trip when the load gets too high, in order to prevent damage to equipment and harm to people.

If your circuit breaker is tripping when there’s no load applied to it, then this is an obvious sign that something is wrong. If your circuit breaker is constantly tripping, try removing everything connected to it. If it continues to trip, then there’s definitely a problem with the circuit breaker itself.

If you turn your circuit breaker on and no power is delivered to the circuits there could be a problem as well.

How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

We hope that this article has given you some insight into how to tell if your circuit breaker is bad.

If you find that your breaker is showing any of the above signs, then we’re here to help. We offer a range of residential and commercial electrical services. Whether you have issues with your circuit breaker or any other electrical problem, we’re here to make sure that things get fixed swiftly and safely.

Contact Infinite Electric Today.

Corey Butcher
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