What To Do If Circuit Breaker Won’t Reset

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Troubleshooting Steps When Circuit Breaker Won’t Reset

When facing electrical issues at home, one common problem that many homeowners encounter is a circuit breaker that won’t reset. This situation can be frustrating and concerning, but it’s essential to address it promptly to ensure the safety of your home and family.

Understanding the Circuit Breaker

A circuit breaker is designed to protect your home’s electrical system from damage caused by an overload or short circuit. When an overload occurs, the breaker trips, cutting off the flow of electricity to prevent overheating and potential fires. Resetting the circuit breaker is usually a simple solution to restore power to the affected area.

Initial Checks

Before attempting to reset a tripped circuit breaker, it’s crucial to conduct some initial checks to ensure your safety. Start by turning off all electronic devices and appliances connected to the circuit. Inspect the area for any signs of damage or unusual smells that could indicate an electrical issue.

Steps to Take When Circuit Breaker Won’t Reset

If your circuit breaker refuses to reset, follow these troubleshooting steps to resolve the issue:

  1. Identify the Tripped Circuit: Look for the breaker that is in the middle position or not fully in the ON position. This indicates which circuit needs attention.
  2. Turn Off the Problematic Circuit: Before attempting to reset the breaker, switch off all devices and appliances connected to the circuit to prevent further damage.
  3. Reset the Circuit Breaker: Firmly move the tripped breaker to the OFF position, then back to the ON position. You should feel some resistance when resetting the breaker.
  4. Check for Overloading: Circuit breakers trip due to overloading. Reduce the load on the circuit by unplugging devices or appliances to prevent future tripping.
  5. Inspect for Short Circuits: Short circuits can also cause a breaker to trip. Examine the wiring for any exposed or damaged wires that may be causing a short circuit.
  6. Test the Circuit: After resetting the breaker, test the circuit by turning on one device at a time to see if the breaker holds. If it trips again, there may be an underlying issue that requires professional attention.

When to Seek Professional Help

If you’ve followed these steps and your circuit breaker still won’t reset, or if you notice any signs of damage to the breaker or wiring, it’s time to call a qualified electrician. Electrical issues can be hazardous, and attempting DIY repairs without the necessary expertise can pose risks to your safety and home.

Dealing with a circuit breaker that won’t reset can be a challenging situation, but by following the proper troubleshooting steps and knowing when to seek professional help, you can ensure the safety and functionality of your home’s electrical system.

Common Causes of Circuit Breaker Failure

Factors Leading to Circuit Breaker Malfunction

Circuit breakers play a critical role in ensuring the safety of electrical systems by interrupting the flow of electricity when an overload or short circuit occurs. However, there are instances when a circuit breaker may fail to reset, posing a potential hazard. Understanding the common causes of circuit breaker failure is essential for homeowners and building managers to address these issues promptly and effectively.

Overloaded Circuit

One of the primary reasons why a circuit breaker may fail to reset is due to overloading. Overloading can happen when the electrical circuit is drawing more current than it can handle. This increased load can cause the circuit breaker to trip and prevent it from being reset. To resolve this issue, unplug some devices from the circuit and redistribute the load more evenly.

Short Circuit

Another common cause of circuit breaker failure is a short circuit. A short circuit occurs when a hot wire comes into contact with a neutral wire, creating a low-resistance path for electricity to flow. This sudden surge in current can trip the circuit breaker and prevent it from being reset. Inspecting the wiring for any visible damage and replacing any faulty components can help resolve this issue.

Ground Fault

A ground fault is another potential cause of circuit breaker malfunction. This occurs when a hot wire comes into contact with a ground wire or the metal box of an electrical device. Ground faults can trip the circuit breaker and prevent it from resetting. Identifying the source of the ground fault and fixing the wiring or faulty equipment is crucial to resolving this issue.

Aging Circuit Breaker

As circuit breakers age, they may experience wear and tear, reducing their effectiveness in tripping and resetting. If a circuit breaker frequently fails to reset, it may be a sign of internal damage or deterioration due to age. In such cases, it is advisable to consult a professional electrician to assess the condition of the circuit breaker and replace it if necessary.

Moisture or Corrosion

Moisture or corrosion in the electrical panel can also lead to circuit breaker failure. Water intrusion or corrosion on the circuit breaker contacts can prevent it from making proper electrical connections, causing it to trip and not reset. Inspecting the electrical panel for any signs of moisture or corrosion and addressing the issue promptly can help prevent circuit breaker malfunction.

A circuit breaker that won’t reset can be a cause for concern and requires immediate attention. By understanding the common causes of circuit breaker failure, such as overloading, short circuits, ground faults, aging breakers, and moisture or corrosion, homeowners and building managers can take the necessary steps to address these issues effectively. Regular maintenance and inspection of electrical systems are essential to ensure the safety and proper functioning of circuit breakers. If in doubt, always seek the assistance of a qualified electrician to diagnose and resolve any electrical issues.


Troubleshooting when a circuit breaker won’t reset requires a systematic approach to identify and rectify the issue effectively. By following the outlined steps such as checking for overloads, testing the breaker, and looking for signs of damage, you can often resolve the problem without the need for professional assistance. Understanding the common causes of circuit breaker failure, such as overloading, short circuits, and physical damage, can help you prevent future issues and ensure the safety and functionality of your electrical system.

Remember, safety should always come first when dealing with electrical systems. If at any point you feel unsure or uncomfortable about handling the circuit breaker or investigating the issue, give Local Choice Electric a call. We are the home of the $49 service charge and show up with completely stocked trucks so the job gets done that day.

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