How to Reset a Tripped Breaker

Woman switching fuse in fuse box, close-up of hand
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Dead appliances and power outages are a common sign of a tripped breaker. Here’s a quick look at how to reset an overloaded breaker.

What a Breaker Is

Breakers are electrical switches that disconnect circuits in the event of an electrical surge. Circuit breakers help prevent short circuits and wiring overloads. Overstimulated wiring and circuits can cause fires and ruin electrical appliances.

Where Breakers Are Located

Circuit breakers are wired in breaker boxes.

Most breaker boxes are located in basements, utility closets and laundry rooms. Look for a metal door several feet from the floor.

Identifying a Circuit Breaker

Once you’ve located your breaker box, look for plastic switches housed in banks. If your breaker box doesn’t have switches, you could have a fuse box. Fuse boxes operate similarly to breakers but require additional work to replace. It’s best to call a pro to help you replace a fuse.

Resetting a Breaker

Resetting your breaker is simple. Here’s a step-by-step guide:

  • Step 1: Identify your tripped breaker. Open your breaker box door and look for the breaker in the off position. Most breakers come with an orange or red marker indicating a tripped breaker. If there is no indicator, look for the switch in the off position. This is normally the breaker with a switch pointing the direction opposite the others.
  • Step 2: Flip the switch. Push the switch into the on position to reconnect your circuit and restore power. Regular power disconnections could be caused by other electrical issues. Call a professional if you’re experiencing routine breaker overloads.

    Avoiding Tripped Breakers

    Tripped breakers occur when a circuit is overloaded with additional current. The best way to protect against overloads is spacing out appliances. Several devices like TVs and lamps in the same outlet can overload a circuit and cause your breaker to trip. Large appliances like dishwashers require their own circuit.

    Two appliances on one circuit will cause regular power outages. 

    When to Call a Pro

    Call a pro immediately if you experience regular outages, smell burning or notice signs of deterioration — including scorching, rusting or corroding around your breaker. Ignoring electrical failure can result in fires and other home-threatening problems.