Modern technology can be a wonderful thing – when it works right. Take your microwave, for instance. It’s great for everything from warming up a cup of leftover coffee to popping popcorn to helping with meal prep. However, it may not be all sunshine and roses. If your microwave keeps tripping your circuit breaker, it could be a very frustrating experience. Why does this happen?
Overloading the circuit
Here’s the thing – your circuit breaker will trip in any instance when the circuit is overloaded. That’s its job. When too much current is being pulled through a circuit, it becomes dangerous, and the breaker trips, cutting off the power. Obviously, any devices or appliances on the same circuit will turn off when this happens. So, why does your microwave keep tripping the circuit breaker? It’s putting too much of a load on the circuit.
Why does the microwave overload the circuit?
There are a couple of reasons why your microwave might be putting too much of a load on the circuit. The first one is that you simply have too many appliances plugged in and running at the same time. If you’re running multiple appliances and your microwave on the same circuit, you’re going to see it trip. Ideally, your microwave should not share a circuit with any other appliances (although lights are fine).
Check the labeling in your breaker box. The breaker that’s tripped should have a name on it. If it powers multiple appliances, you need to install another (20 amp) breaker for the microwave. If the breaker is not labeled, turn it off and find out what other appliances are not working. Note that this is not something you should do on your own. A licensed electrician should handle all of your electrical work, including adding new breakers, running new wiring and everything else.
Another reason that your microwave could be tripping the circuit breaker constantly is if it is malfunctioning. In this instance, the microwave is pulling a dangerous amount of current, and the breaker trips to prevent damage.
Determining if your microwave is faulty is actually relatively simple. Move the microwave to another area and plug it into an outlet that is connected to a higher amp breaker. Turn the microwave on and see what happens. If nothing happens (the microwave works fine), then the problem is a shared circuit. If the higher-rated breaker trips, then the microwave is the problem and it needs to be replaced.
A third potential reason is that there is something wrong with the breaker box/panel assembly itself. The symptoms of this problem differ a little from the tripped circuit breaker. Usually, you’ll hear a humming sound from the breaker box, or you may find that the main breaker is tripped. In some instances, you may electricity arcing in the box. Never, under any circumstances, attempt to repair this on your own. Immediately call a licensed electrician.
Finally, it is possible that (excluding the other reasons already mentioned), the breaker itself needs to be replaced. While breakers should last for decades, wear can occur, and there’s always the potential for a defect of some kind. Replacing the breaker may solve the problem, assuming that the microwave is on a dedicated circuit and the breaker box is not the culprit.
Always work with expert electricians
It’s always best to leave electrical work or repairs to licensed electricians. Electricity can be incredibly dangerous, even deadly if you’re not 100% sure you know what you’re doing. Leave all electrical repairs, replacements or installations to the pros.