By Anita Ginsburg
The electricity that flows through your home is controlled through circuit breakers. Each individual outlet in your home is connected to a circuit breaker, which controls the power to it.
If your power goes out, you probably head for the circuit box to see if the breaker tripped. Usually, a tripped circuit breaker is nothing to worry about. However, this happens regularly, it might need further investigation. Here are a few issues that mean your circuit breaker box should be looked at right away:
Your Appliances Aren't Pulling Enough Power
The first sign of a faulty circuit breaker are appliances that don't work as well as they did previously. The microwave may randomly shut off, your oven may not reach the desired temperature and the dryer might take longer to dry your clothes.
While this can happen with outdated appliances, it shouldn't if they're relatively new and under manufacturer's warranty. Reduced efficiency may indicate an issue with the electrical current.
Dim or Flickering Lights
Another sign your circuit breaker may need replaced is if your lights are dim or flickering. They might not be as bright as they used to or they start to flicker constantly. Similar to the appliances, you might chalk this up to the light bulb needing replaced. However, light bulbs have a long lifespan, so if you still have the same issues after replacing them, it could be your circuit breaker is the cause.
You should never underestimate a malfunctioning circuit breaker. It can do a lot more than simply make your lights and appliances malfunction. It's also a potential fire hazard. When a circuit breaker doesn't work properly, it's unable to regulate the flow of power into the circuits. If too much power is supplied, it can cause a small fire, which can grow quickly and encase your entire home.
Increased Power Bills
Your monthly power bill depends on where you live, the size of your home and how much power you use. Unless you start to use more power than usual, your bill should be about the same. However, if you notice a sizable increase in your power bill without a corresponding increase in power usage, your circuit breaker could be the culprit. An electrician can help diagnose the problem by inspecting your appliances and circuit breakers.
Malfunctioning circuit breakers are more than inconvenient; they can be dangerous. If your circuit breakers start to trip more than usual, contact a professional for further investigation and look into possible circuit breaker replacement.
Anita Ginsburg is a freelance writer from Denver, Colo. She studied at Colorado State University and now enjoys writing about health, business, and family. A mother of two wonderful children, she loves traveling with her family whenever she isn’t writing. She recommends replacing circuit breakers right away if they are faulty. You can find her on Twitter @anitaginsburg.