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.


In both of my bathrooms I have tripped the plug where I can't use my hairdryer anymore. I can't get it to reset either. This happened twice and the third time (in each bathroom plug) it wouldn't let me reset them anymore. What should I do?

You must contact your licensed electrician regarding this matter. Handling electricity without proper training might lead you to electrocution

A couple of thoughts...As with any electrical device, determining the current draw is imperative here. All appliances have a power ratings label attached to them. I have a toaster that is labeled as 800 watts (800w/120v=6.67amps), a microwave rated at 1.65kw (1,650w/120=13.75amps), and a refer that lists amperage as 5.6amps. Look at your labels to determine if a dedicated circuit is required for that device. As a general safety rule, NEVER use an extension cord for permanent or continuous duty appliances! They are intended for temporary use only. Continuous duty is 3 hours or more. Another thought, separate circuits ON THE SAME PHASE that share a nuetral wire can create an overloaded neutral situation. Have a licensed electrician check for this possibility. Also check the wire size when trying to determine capacity. 20amp circuits need to be wired in 12 gauge wire and 15amp circuits are wired in 14 gauge wire.

vaaughn - do NOT replace a breaker with a higher rated breaker unless you know all wires, boxes and outlets are rated for the higher amount. Given the shortcut the electrician took, I doubt he would have gone over standard. Have an electrician run a separate circuit; if you know where the tie-in is, it may not be too expensive to do.

I built a room addition and had a electrican wire my room. he said that he was going to hook it into the box. this he did not do,he hooked it into the closest plug which is 15amps 10 sockets in all. when i turn on the heater and tv is trips the breaker,can i change that breaker to 20 amps????

2005 National Electrical Code Amendments “(4) Separate Circuit Required. A separate circuit is required for each refrigerator, deep freeze, dishwasher, disposal, trash compactor or any other load exceeding six (6) amperes.” 4. Section 210.52 (C) Countertops shall be amended to include after the words ‘…with 210.52 (C) (1) through (5). the following sentence: “However, a separate circuit is required for microwave ovens or any other counter top appliance with a load exceeding six (6) amperes.”

The cheapest and easiest solution for anyone to do would be to turn off the problem breaker. Then find a kitchen socket that still works and find a way to plug one of the two appliances in there. Either move the item closer or a less desirable choice would be a heavy duty 12 gauge 3 wire extension cord. Even if the problem breaker is weak, you just removed half it's load and it is not likely to trip again A microwave and toaster are usually too much to put on one circuit even with a new breaker. This solution has the advantage of being able to be done right now and does not prolong the unsafe overloaded circuit problem. An electrician could help later with a better solution if needed.

I believe Mr. Chinevere is wrong about the National Electrical Code. It does NOT specifically require a 20A dedicated circuit for a microwave oven.

There's one other thing it could be, kinda rare, but worth checking for because it's so cheap to fix, and should be fixed. When breakers go bad, they're designed to fail on the safe side, and trip at less than their rated load. So, open the panel, put a clamp-around ammeter on the wire for the breaker in question, and add load to the circuit up to it's rated limit. If it trips early, just replace the breaker. The cost of pulling in new circuits depends a lot on whether you have the common romex wiring or conduit. With conduit, it's a bunch easier and cheaper. -- J.S.

Thanks M. Thompson for researching the code. Hal Chinevere, owner of highly rated Irwin Electric in Lincoln, Calif. Most of the kitchens I work on are exterior wall, under eaves, on a slab. That being said, $300 would be low.

My landlord refuses to upgrade.how can I minimize tripping my breaker, I only have two grounded outlets.

need a reliable mechanic in 97202 area for a 1990 chevy lumina 1990

My refrigerator cut out when I was on vacation. Is that electricity or the refrigerator

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