How To Reset A Circuit Breaker
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How to Reset A Tripped Circuit Breaker

A modern circuit breaker has three handle positions: OFF, which is all the way to the left (or right, depending on your panel); ON, which is all the way in the opposite direction of the OFF position; and TRIPPED, which is halfway between OFF and ON. 

Most circuit breaker handles will move to the middle position when tripped. Many others may trip, but the handle will stay in the OFF or ON position, making it difficult to tell if it is tripped or not. Some circuit breakers, such as the Square-D Q0 style, will show a small orange ‘flag’ in the window on the front of the breaker when it is tripped, making it easy to locate. 

It’s important to note that a circuit breaker cannot be reset by simply turning it back on from the tripped position. If you tried to do this, you probably noticed that it would not stay in the ON position, thereby causing you to seek out this website!  

Circuit breakers in a service panel

Circuit breakers have an internal spring mechanism that must be reset after a trip condition. To do this, simply move the handle from the tripped to the OFF position, then move it all the way over to the ON position. If it was just a momentary overload that caused the breaker to trip, then it will probably stay in the ON position after being reset. However, if it trips a second time, it’s advisable to leave it off until the source of the problem is identified. Contacting a licensed electrician to investigate the problem is your best course of action in this scenario. 

If you have an electrical panel with a tripped circuit breaker that doesn’t move to the middle position as mentioned earlier, then you may need to do a little bit more detective work. Sometimes the handle sticks even though the internal mechanism tripped. Simply wiggle the handles of your circuit breakers very lightly and the tripped one will show itself. You can then try to reset it with the instructions above. 

Lastly, a good habit to get into would be to turn all of your circuit breakers OFF and ON at least once a year to make sure they are working normally and can be manually operated. Make sure any sensitive electronic devices such as computers are turned off before you do this. If you find a circuit breaker that will not turn back on, it should be replaced, as this breaker would most likely not have tripped in the event of an actual circuit overload.

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Wurtsboro Electric Service, Inc.

Licensed electricians serving Orange county, Sullivan county, and Ulster county in New York
(845) 888-8000 

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