Why do circuit breakers fail? Useful insights by one of the leading switchgear brands

Circuit breakers are devices that are designed to protect electrical circuits from damage caused by overloading or short circuits. When an electrical fault occurs, the circuit breaker trips and interrupts the flow of power, preventing damage to the electrical appliances. Circuit breakers are an important part of the electrical system, but they too can fail. Why do they fail and what can you do to prevent it? As one of the leading switchgear brands, we share with you some useful insights on why circuit breakers fail:


An isolated power surge

One possible cause of circuit breaker failure is a sudden power surge. This can happen when devices that are well above the circuit’s amperage capacity are used. Another reason for sudden power surge can be lightning. When a bolt of lightning strikes a power line, it can generate a spike of 1,000 or more volts which a circuit breaker cannot handle.


To prevent circuit breaker failure, it is a good idea to install a surge protector which diverts excess power to ground.


Short circuit

A short circuit occurs when there is a break in the flow of electrons, causing a build-up of electrical current. When current exceeds the rated value, circuit breakers trip and shut off the power. In some cases, the heat from the short circuit can damage the circuit breaker itself, making it difficult to reset. To prevent short circuits, it is important to use appropriate wires and insulation and to regularly check for signs of wear or damage.


Ground fault

Ground faults occur when a live conductor comes into contact with the ground. This can happen due to a number of factors, including physical damage to the insulation, corrosion or faulty manufacturing. When a ground fault occurs, it can cause the circuit breaker to fail. This can be dangerous, as it can lead to an electrical fire. To help prevent ground faults, circuit breakers should be regularly inspected and maintained. Any damage to the insulation should be repaired immediately and any corroded or damaged parts should be replaced. Furthermore, circuit breakers should be tested regularly to ensure that they are working properly.


Arc fault

An arc fault occurs when an electric current jumps across an air gap between conducting parts. If this happens inside a circuit breaker, it can cause the breaker to trip or even fail entirely. Arc fault is most likely to occur in older circuit breakers that have been damaged or worn down because of regular use. However, it can also happen in new breakers if they are not properly installed or maintained. To prevent arc fault, it is important to regularly check circuit breakers for damage and replace them if necessary.

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