How-To: Reset a Circuit Breaker

How-To: Reset a Circuit Breaker

In the event of a power trip, chill! Nothing is going blow up (at least not yet).

Switch on your phone’s torchlight and make your way to your household’s consumer unit – more commonly known as the Circuit Breaker. If you don’t know where that is, try locating it in your storeroom.

But what is a Consumer Unit (or circuit breaker) and how does it look like?

A circuit breaker is an electrical distribution panel installed in the household. Every household will have one. They might come in different shapes and sizes, but will definitely contain a row of switches, as seen above.

It comprises of the following components:

  • Double pole Miniature Circuit Breakers (MCBs)
  • Residual Current Circuit Breaker (RCCB)
  • Outgoing single pole MCBs
  • Terminals

Ok WTF? Let’s not get all technical here. Here’s what to do in the event of a power trip:

Step 1: Identify the faulty appliance

It’s quite simple – if the power tripped the moment a particular appliance was turned on, you have found the culprit! In other words, that appliance is faulty and you should unplug it, stat.

If the power trip happens abruptly, you will need to identify the faulty appliance later. (in step 5)

Step 2: Switch off everything in your house

To protect your appliances and hardwares, it’s strongly advisable to turn off everything in the house during the trip. Yes, that includes the router for your Internet.

Step 3: Go to your circuit breaker, identify the tripped breaker

Open your breaker box door and look for the breaker in the ‘off’ position. Look for the odd one out this is usually the only switch pointing the opposite direction.

Step 4: Flip the switch

Push the switch into the ‘on’ position to restore power.

Step 5: Switch each appliance on, one at a time, to single out the culprit of the power trip

Take your time to find the cause of the trip by switching each appliance back on, one at a time. Whichever appliance causes another power trip, should then be sent for repair or discarded.

Step 6: Look for a professional electrician

If you are unable to find the cause of the problem and if power trips keep occurring, or if you start to notice burning smells, or even deterioration of the circuit breakers – you should probably call a professional electrician. It’s always better to be safe than sorry!