Electrical Circuit Fails

Problem: Fuses blow or circuit breakers trip because of problems at the main panel.

Background: Circuit breakers and fuses act as the first line of defence when an electrical failure occurs. When a fuse blows or a circuit breaker trips, it indicates that some thing is wrong within the circuit. Re placing the fuse or resetting the circuit breaker should not be done until the cause is determined. Ignoring this condition could cause a fire hazard, draw excessive power and run up your electric bill, or make appliances run below optimum levels, which could possibly damage motors and compressors.

What to do: Check for problems caused by short circuits, and for problems caused by overloaded circuits. Check below for circuit failures that are caused at the main panel. Do not work on a fused or breaker panel unless you are familiar with electrical safety procedures and are confident of your abilities.

Loose connection in a fused panel: After turning off the power, remove the fuses. (Warning: The connections where the main wires enter the panel are hot.) A loose screw may be found in one of the fuse sockets. If the bottom of the fuse is blackened, discolored, or pitted, a loose connection may be at fault.
Loose connection in a circuit breaker panel: After turning power off, remove cover from panel. Inspect the panel for darkened or pitted marks on the bus (the strip of metal where a number of connections are made on the panel) or circuit breakers. Also check the wires connected to the circuit breakers for signs of excessive heat.
Fuse poorly seated: Although the fuse window shows no indication of burn out, and the bottom is not pitted or discolored, the fuse may not be making contact with the bottom of the receptacle. Remove the fuse and replace it with one of adequate length to make contact.
Special advice: If any of the above conditions exist, contact an electrician. If there is an unused branch space in the existing panel, it may be possible to move the branch wire from the damaged fuse or circuit breaker to the unused space and in stall a new fuse or circuit breaker. If there are no unused spaces, the en tire panel may need to be replaced. If so, consider having the electrician install a larger service to meet future electrical needs more adequately.

Helpful hint: To avoid overloaded circuits, never insert a fuse in a panel that has a higher amperage rating than the rating on the wire for the circuit. Never use a penny or tin foil in a service panel instead of a fuse.