How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

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Signs that a circuit breaker is bad include a breaker that has been tripped, or one that has had problems being reset. Determine if a circuit has shorted or if a breaker is defective with help from a certified home inspector in this free video on home maintenance.

Part of the Video Series: Tools & Home Maintenance
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Video Transcript

Hello my name is Mark Blocker and in this segment we are going to cover how to diagnose a bad circuit breaker. If you have got a circuit breaker that has been tripped or has been tripped before and you have had a problem with resetting it the first things you want to check when resetting the circuit breaker, first you want to make sure you have turned off all devices on the circuit that the circuit blew, whether it be lamps, plug in TV components, computer components, things of that nature. Make sure they're turned off. When you reset the breaker it should make a definite click when it resets, listen for that click. If it immediately blows again it indicates it could have a problem, a short on that circuit or a defective breaker itself so what you need to do is isolate whether it is the circuit that is defective or the breaker itself. If you go around and unplug all the devices that are plugged into that circuit you are going to assure that none of the devices are malfunctioning themselves and have a short in it. Try resetting the breaker again. If it still resets and it pops immediately you could still have a problem in the wiring so a way to diagnose that and remember your power circuit breaker box is going to be live electricity so you want to take proper safety precautions but you want to remove the circuit wire that is connected to whichever circuit breaker that the problem is related to, just disconnect the wire from the circuit breaker, reset the circuit breaker again. If it trips initially without the wire connected then you know you have got a bad circuit breaker. If not you have possibly got a short in your wiring system. You will need to check that with a multi meter and verify that you have no shorts. If it still blows and you have no verified shorts in the wiring system that is also an indication of a faulty circuit breaker. That's how you diagnose a faulty circuit breaker.

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