1. 3)Another thing that will trip a breaker is too many lights and appliances drawing more amperage than the rating of the breaker.  Excess electric current gradually overheats a thermal link in the breaker and usually, if that’s the problem, the breaker will reset but trip again a few minutes after being reset. To double-check that diagnosis, try disconnecting some of the electrical loads on that circuit, reset the breaker and wait a few minutes. If it doesn’t trip again then the problem is too many things on one circuit, or a single appliance—like a portable space heater—that draws more current than the rating of the breaker.
       “But sometimes it will not reset until it has cooled down a little bit,” according to Craig Eaton, a local electrician. “If you wait a couple of minutes, and then the breaker will reset, it’s another sign that an overloaded circuit is the problem.”

    If you are able to reset the breaker to the “ON” position, but some or all of the receptacles it serves are still dead, you should suspect a tripped GFCI- receptacle somewhere in the home. GFCI is an acronym for Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter and GFCI-receptacles provide shock protection in wet areas of the home, like the kitchen, bathrooms, garage, laundry, and exterior. They have two buttons in the center of the receptacle. One is marked “TEST,” and the other is “RESET.” When the GFCI-device inside the receptacle has tripped, the “RESET” will be popped out forward of the test button. Unfortunately, sometimes that is hard to discern, so the best way to check is to push the reset button and see if it pops inward—which indicates that it was tripped.
   When GFCI-receptacles were a new technology, from the 1980s through the 1990s, they were expensive. Home builders took advantage of the fact that one GFCI-receptacle in the first location after the electric panel of a string of receptacles running around the house would protect all of the ones downstream. So a single GFCI-receptacle, typically in the garage or one of the bathrooms, would protect all of the other bathroom, garage, and exterior receptacles in the home. This means it’s a good idea to check all of the GFCI-receptacles around the home first before calling an electrician, if one dead receptacle refuses to re-energize after all the circuit breakers in the electric panel have been checked. We occasionally find instances where a receptacle in a non-wet location, like a dining room or sun room, has been been dead because of a tripped GFCI-receptacle at a distant location in the home; so check all the GFCIs even for a dead receptacle in a dry room.

    See our list below for answers to many other often-asked questions about a home’s electrical system.

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
©2015 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection.


More Blog Posts About Electric Panels and Distribution:

  1. How come my generator hookup got tagged as defective by the home inspector?

  2. Is the electric panel big enough for this house?

  3. The electric panel is marked “Trilliant” and it’s all grey plastic. Is it alright?

  4. Why do you pay so much attention to electrical safety?

  5. Why does that wall plug have push-buttons in the middle?

  6. What are the most common homeowner wiring mistakes?

  7. How do the new tamper-resistant electric receptacles work?

  8. Does this place have one of those “bad” electric panels I’ve heard about?

  9. I heard that aluminum wiring is bad. Do you check for it?

  10. How far apart should the electrical receptacles be placed?

  11. Is an ungrounded receptacle/outlet dangerous?

  12. What is a “missing twistout” at an electric panel?

  13. What is an “open junction box”?

  14. How far apart should kitchen counter receptacles be placed?

  15. How can I figure out what a mystery wall switch does?

  16. What is the switch on the wall with only two pushbuttons for?

  17. How far apart should electric receptacle outlets be placed in a garage?

  18. Will the electric company remove branches rubbing against the overhead service lines to my home?

  19. Can multiple neutral or ground wires be secured under the same terminal in an electric panel?

  20. Why are Zinsco and Sylvania-Zinsco electric panels a problem?

  21. What is the life expectancy of electrical wiring in a house?

  22. How can adding wood paneling or a wainscot create an electrical safety hazard?

  23. What are the most common electrical defects found in a home inspection?

  24. What is an open electrical splice?

  25. What does it mean when a wire is “overstripped” at a circuit breaker?

  26. What is the difference between “grounded” and “grounding” electrical conductors?

  27. How can I tell if a receptacle/outlet is tamper resistant?

  28. Is a house required to have outdoor electric receptacles?

  29. What are the code requirements for NM-cable (nonmetallic-sheathed cable or Romex®) in an attic?

  30. What could cause an extremely high electric bill?

  31. How do I trace and identify each circuit breaker in my electric panel to make a circuit directory?

  32. Why are extension cords dangerous?

  33. What problems does having too many electrical outlets on a single circuit cause?

  34. How can I find out the size of the electric service to a house?

  35. Why does painting an electric receptacle (outlet) make it unsafe?

  36. Why is bundled wiring in an electric panel a defect?

  37. Why are some electric receptacles/outlets upside down (ground slot up) in a house?

  38. Why is undersize electric wiring in a house dangerous?

  39. Why is a fuse box an insurance problem for homebuyers?

  40. What is a “backstab” receptacle outlet?

  41. What electrical hazards does a Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) not protect against?

  42. What does “listed” and “labeled” mean for an electrical component?

  43. What does it mean when I find buried yellow "CAUTION" tape when digging a hole in the yard?

  44. How far away should a sink be from an electric panel?

  45. What are the requirements for NM-cables entering an electric panel box?

  46. How can I tell if the electrical service is 3 phase or single phase?

  47. Can you add circuit breakers by different manufacturers to an electric panel if they fit?

  48. When did arc fault circuit interrupter (AFCI) breakers first become required?

  49. What is the difference between an electrical receptacle, an outlet, and a plug?

  50. Should I buy a house near a high-voltage power line?

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