What to do if your appliances trip circuit breakers
My microwave and toaster are on two separate electrical sockets, but I cannot run both at the same time without kicking the breaker. Is there a company that will come and organize the box and give me a few extra lines? — Patricia Spadafora, Baldwin, N.Y.
Call a licensed, highly rated electrician. Your home's circuit breakers are crucial safety devices and they're working as designed, says Paul Hampton, owner of A-1 Electric Co. Inc., a highly rated electrician in Warren, N.J., who services northern New Jersey.
"The circuit breaker's job is to keep wires from overheating," he says. "If it receives more power than it can handle, it shuts down to prevent any fire hazard."
Most kitchen and bathroom appliances are heating or cooling devices, so they require more electricity. Despite being on separate outlets, it's likely that your appliances are on the same circuit.
Hal Chinevere, owner of highly rated Irwin Electric in Lincoln, Calif., which services Sacramento, says there are several solutions.
"The current National Electric Code calls for a 20-amp circuit dedicated to the microwave only," he says, adding the project usually costs about $300, but homeowners should get an estimate first.
Hampton says an easy way to solve the problem is to ensure the appliances use different circuits. However, Chinevere advises that if there are other issues, such as repeated power losses, main breaker trips, or a service panel that hums or arcs, it's likely you need to replace the entire panel. He estimates that work would cost $1,400 to $1,600 on average, plus permit fees; Hampton puts the work in the $1,500 to $3,500 price range.