Published on September 8, 2023

Circuit breakers are essential to workplace safety and property protection. They defend against electrical hazards such as overload, fires, shocks and electrocution by interrupting power supply when currents reach unsafe levels. Circuit breakers protect circuits from damage and keep employees safe while operating equipment and using appliances.

Because circuit breakers play a significant role within the workplace, it’s imperative to notice the signs of a faulty circuit breaker. Circuit breakers can experience various types of damage due to wear and tear, aging, power surges and other events, so frequent testing and inspections are beneficial to ensuring a circuit breaker’s safe operation. Read this guide to learn how to tell if your circuit breaker is bad so you can mitigate risks and maintain your facility’s safety.

Contact Us


1. A Burning Smell

If you notice a burning odor around your electrical panel, it may be a sign your breaker is bad. Burning smells and hot components mean your circuit breaker’s wires and insulation have overheated. If your circuit breaker smells like it’s burning, immediately shut off the power and call a professional to inspect and repair it.

2. Physical Damage

Another way to know whether your breaker is bad is if you can see physical damage around your circuit breaker or other electrical components. Damage can come from problems inside the circuit breaker or from outside forces. Visually inspect your circuit breaker often for damage such as:

  • Broken electrical panels
  • Scorch marks
  • Melted wires
  • Cracked casing
  • Busted breaker handles

3. The Breaker Trips Frequently

Breakers can trip for various reasons, but your breaker may be bad if it trips every time you turn on a device. Circuit breakers are designed to trip when too much power travels through them, so another reason yours may trip frequently could be that it’s outdated and needs to be updated.

4. The Breaker Does Not Reset

A common circuit breaker failure is the inability to reset after tripping. You may try to flip your breaker on but it won’t go into the on position, or it may go into the on position but trip immediately without a heavy load plugged in. If you experience either of these situations, you may have a faulty breaker that needs to be replaced.

5. Old Age

Circuit breakers can have long life spans but eventually age and experience wear and tear. Outdated circuit breakers need replacement to ensure efficiency and safety. Inspecting and testing your circuit breaker frequently will help you stay informed of its condition and age to avoid a faulty breaker.

6. A Recent Power Surge

If your facility recently experienced a power surge, you will want to check your circuit breaker to ensure it is still safe and operational. Sudden current spikes can damage circuit breakers and put your facility and employees at risk. Power surges can occur due to faulty wiring, weather events, overloads or power restoration after an outage.

Trust Power Products & Solutions With Your Electrical Testing Needs

If you think your circuit breaker might be bad, turn to Power Products & Solutions. Our expert NETA-certified team can test and inspect your circuit breakers to ensure their safety and functionality. We will check for failures and repair any minor issues to help you avoid future expenses and damage.

When you partner with Power Products & Solutions, you can depend on us to work quickly and efficiently to reduce your downtime, increase your peace of mind and ensure the safety of your electrical equipment. Contact us today to learn more about our circuit breaker services.