Comprehensive guide to identifying and fixing bad circuit breakers

Comprehensive Guide to Identifying and Fixing Bad Circuit Breakers

It’s important to know how to tell if a circuit breaker is bad, as a faulty breaker can lead to a variety of problems, including electrical fires and damage to appliances. In this comprehensive guide, we'll cover the signs of a bad circuit breaker (electrical switch), what causes them to go bad, and how to test and replace them if necessary. We'll also discuss why it's essential to consult with professionals like the team at Emergency Electrician Beverly Grove for the best results. Let's get started!

Why It is Important to Know If Your Circuit Breaker is Bad

Knowing if your circuit breaker is faulty is crucial for the safety and functionality of your home. A bad breaker can cause power surges, low voltage, or even electrical fires. It's essential to identify the symptoms of a bad circuit breaker and address the issue promptly to prevent further damage and ensure the safety of your home and family.

What is circuit breaker

Additionally, faulty circuit breakers can lead to increased energy bills and damage to your appliances, which can be costly in the long run. By identifying and fixing a bad breaker early, you can save money and prolong the life of your appliances.

How to Tell if a Breaker is Bad

There are several signs and symptoms that can help you determine if a breaker is bad. Here are some common indicators that your breaker may be faulty:

  1. Breaker trips frequently
  2. Overheating
  3. Burning smell or visible scorch marks
  4. Breaker won't reset
  5. Appliances or lights flickering
  6. Low voltage or power surges
  7. Unusual noises coming from the electrical panel
  8. Cracked or damaged breaker casing
  9. Breaker feels loose in the panel
  10. Unresponsive or inconsistent performance of connected devices

Identifying a faulty circuit breaker can take anywhere from a few minutes to a couple of hours, depending on the symptoms and the extent of the issue.

What Causes a Circuit Breaker to Go Bad

Signs of bad circuit breaker

There are several reasons why a circuit breaker might go bad, including:

  1. Age and wear
  2. Excessive electrical load
  3. Power surges or short circuits
  4. Environmental factors, such as humidity or temperature extremes
  5. Poor quality or manufacturing defects

Maintaining and regularly inspecting your electrical system can help prevent electrical switch from going bad and ensure the overall safety of your home.

How to Test if a Breaker is Bad

How to test a bad circuit breaker

Testing a circuit breaker to determine if it's bad can take anywhere from a few minutes to an hour, depending on your level of experience and the tools you have available. Follow these steps to test your breaker:

  1. Turn off the power to the circuit you'll be testing
  2. Use a voltage tester or multimeter to confirm there's no power in the circuit
  3. Remove the electrical switch panel cover to expose the breakers
  4. Test the breaker with a multimeter, comparing its readings to a known good breaker
  5. If the readings are significantly different, the breaker is likely bad and needs to be replaced
  6. Check for any signs of physical damage or wear on the breaker

It's important to exercise caution while testing breakers, as working with electricity can be dangerous. If you're unsure about any aspect of the process, it's best to consult with a professional electrician.

What Kind of Tools You Need for Test

What tools you need for test a bad circuit breaker

When testing a breaker, you'll need the following tools:

  • Voltage tester or multimeter
  • Insulated screwdriver
  • Flashlight
  • Protective gloves
  • Non-contact voltage detector (optional, but recommended)

What Could You Do if the Circuit Breaker Goes Bad

If you've determined that your breaker is bad, you have several options:

  1. Reduce the electrical load on the circuit by unplugging appliances or devices
  2. Replace the faulty breaker
  3. Consult with a professional electrician for further diagnosis and recommendations

One of the most common solutions to a bad breaker is to replace it with a new one. However, if you're experiencing issues with multiple breakers, you may need to have your entire electrical panel inspected and potentially replaced.

How to Replace a Broken Circuit Breaker

Follow these steps to replace a broken circuit breaker:

  1. Turn off the main power to the electrical panel
  2. Use a voltage tester or multimeter to ensure there's no power in the panel
  3. Remove the panel cover to expose the breakers
  4. Disconnect the wire connected to the bad breaker by loosening the screw terminal
  5. Carefully remove the bad breaker from the panel
  6. Install the new electrical switch by snapping it into place in the panel
  7. Reconnect the wire to the new breaker and tighten the screw terminal
  8. Replace the panel cover and restore power to the panel
  9. Test the newly installed breaker to ensure it's functioning properly

Why is it Better to Entrust the Replacement of the Circuit Breaker to Professionals

Replacing a circuit breaker can be a dangerous task, especially for those with limited experience in electrical work. The team at Emergency Electrician Beverly Grove has the expertise and experience to safely replace a bad breaker and address any other electrical issues that may be present. By entrusting this task to professionals, you can ensure the safety of your home and avoid potential complications.

Moreover, a professional electrician can identify any underlying issues that may have caused the breaker to go bad, such as overloaded circuits or faulty wiring. This comprehensive approach helps to prevent future problems and ensure the long-term safety of your home's electrical system.

Working with a team like Emergency Electrician Beverly Grove also means that you'll have access to expert advice and recommendations for maintaining your electrical system. This can help you avoid common issues, extend the lifespan of your breakers and appliances, and reduce the risk of electrical fires.

Bad circuit breaker repair service - Emergency Electrician Beverly Grove

Preventive Measures to Keep Your Circuit Breakers in Good Condition

There are several preventive measures you can take to keep your circuit breakers in good condition and avoid bad breakers in the future:

  1. Regularly inspect your electrical panel for signs of wear, damage, or overheating
  2. Keep the area around your electrical panel clean and free of debris
  3. Ensure that your home's electrical system is up to code and meets local regulations
  4. Avoid overloading circuits by distributing electrical devices and appliances evenly throughout your home
  5. Use surge protectors to protect your appliances and devices from power surges
  6. Consider upgrading your electrical panel if it's old or outdated
  7. Schedule routine maintenance and inspections with a professional electrician

By following these preventive measures, you can minimize the risk of bad breakers and ensure the safety and reliability of your home's electrical system.


Identifying and fixing bad circuit breakers is an essential part of maintaining a safe and functional home. By knowing the signs of a bad breaker, understanding how to test and replace them, and taking preventive measures, you can protect your appliances and reduce the risk of electrical fires. For the best results, consult with professionals like the team at Emergency Electrician Beverly Grove for expert advice and assistance in maintaining your electrical system.


Can a circuit breaker malfunction?

Yes, circuit breakers can malfunction due to a variety of factors, such as age, excessive electrical load, power surges, or manufacturing defects, environmental factors like humidity or temperature extremes, and poor quality components.

Can a malfunctioning breaker cause low voltage?

Yes, a malfunctioning breaker can cause low voltage in your home by not supplying the required power to the connected devices and appliances, leading to inconsistent performance and potential damage.

Can a malfunctioning breaker cause power surges?

Yes, a malfunctioning breaker can cause power surges if it fails to regulate the flow of electricity properly. Power surges can damage appliances and devices, and may even cause electrical fires in extreme cases.

Can a bad capacitor trip a circuit breaker?

Yes, a bad capacitor can trip a circuit breaker. A faulty capacitor can cause an excessive current draw, leading to breaker tripping as a protective measure.

Can a bad outlet cause a breaker to trip?

Yes, a bad outlet can cause a breaker to trip. An outlet with damaged or loose wiring can create a short circuit, which can lead to the breaker tripping to protect your home's electrical system.