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Overloaded Circuits

Overloaded Circuits

Circuit breakers and fuses are designed to protect wires from overheating due to electrical overloads. If you try to use too much electricity on a wire, it heats up and becomes a fire hazard. A good analogy would be too much water pressure in a pipe which would cause it to burst.) For example, if you have multiple electric plug-in heaters or air conditioners on a circuit, it will probably cause the circuit breaker to trip. You don't simply install a larger circuit breaker since the wire would be no larger and would still overheat. The solution is to have the appliances on separate circuits. This may mean simply plugging into another outlet on a different circuit, or we may need to add wiring to provide a separate circuit and outlet.
What are the big energy users?  If it creates heat, or cold, you can expect it to need more power than simply lights or electronics.  These items can be fine by themselves, but if they are operating at the same time as another big item, the circuit breaker may trip.  Most wall outlets and lights are on a 15 amp breaker.  Kitchen and bathroom outlets are not put on 20 amp circuits since they know these areas have heavy demands.

  Plug-in appliances  Energy load

 Air conditioners

8-14 amps 

 Coffee makers (especially big ones for parties)

12 amps

 Copying machines

12-16 amps

 Curling irons  8 amps
 Dehumidifiers 6 amps
 Electric space heaters 12 amps
 Freezer 6 amps
 Hair dryers  15-18 amps
 Irons  9 amps
 Laser printers  12 amps
 Microwave ovens (even the under-cabinet types 12-15 amps
 Refrigerators  12-15 amps
 Toaster and toaster-ovens  12-15 amps
 Treadmills  12-15 amps

 Vacuum cleaners

 9-14 amps


Helpful Hint: At first, you can't tell whether a breaker has tripped from an overloaded circuit or a short-circuit. Resetting a circuit breaker often has a trick to it that most people do not know.

  • A tripped circuit breaker often doesn't look any different than the other breakers. This is why we often tell customers to go through all the individual breakers (not the main breaker), turn each one off and then click it back to the 'On' position.

  • To reset a tripped breaker, many brands require first that you 'click' the breaker to the off position before turning it back on.


    Important: If you reset the breaker and hear a loud hum and/or it shuts itself off right away, you probably have a short-circuit. Call us to locate and repair the problem. We can usually tell you beforehand what is involved and what it will cost.