Why do circuit breakers trip?

The circuit breaker is a switch that shuts off the electricity to protect the wiring from overheating. When I was growing up, the circuit breaker at my house would trip every time my mom and I were both drying our hair at the same time. So, as you can probably guess... that created an interesting dilemma.

According to Arnold Howard from Paragon, "Breakers trip because both appliances pull more amperage than the circuit is designed to handle". With that said, the same scenario would apply to kilns.  Too much amperage "pull" will cause immediate issues with your breaker. And, since we know that the circuit breaker is triggered by heat, Arnold suggests "that you keep your kiln at least 3’ - 4’ from the circuit breaker box".

Other reasons that Arnold says kilns and ovens can keep tripping circuit breakers can include:

  • Older Circuit Breaker: Breakers can become sensitive as they age. An overly sensitive circuit breaker can trip even when the wires are not overloaded with too much amperage. 
  • Corroded Connection: This can also trip the breaker, and is more of a problem in humid areas such as Hawaii.Loose Connection: A circuit breaker is triggered by heat. A tiny heating element heats a thermostat inside the breaker. A loose connection on the circuit breaker can cause the breaker to trip prematurely, because heat builds up at the loose connection. Loose connections get hot because tiny sparks form between the surfaces of the loose connection. An unusually warm circuit breaker panel indicates a loose connection.
  • Dead Short: This will trip the circuit breaker, because the short causes a large amount of electricity to flow through the wires. Dead shorts trip the breaker immediately after the appliance is turned on. If the breaker trips when you turn on your kiln, open the kiln’s control panel and look for a wire or heating element that touches the kiln's steel case.

If you encounter any of these situations, please reach out to an electrical professional for assistance as you more than likely will have to replace your breaker.  

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