The circuit breakers in your office or commercial building are not likely a feature you spend very much time thinking about — until something goes wrong with them, that is. The electricity in your building is one of the last things you want to have problems with. Not only can a faulty circuit breaker create a safety hazard, but it’s also hard to maintain a productive commercial property without reliable electricity.
If the electrical panel where your building’s circuit breakers are housed is making a worrying buzzing sound, don’t fret. The best way to take care of the problem is to contact an experienced commercial electrical contractor. Our team of experts at Tapps Electric can handle all your circuit breaker needs, whether you need help replacing a circuit breaker or simply figuring out the source of the issue.
Causes of Circuit Breaker Buzzing
First of all, it’s important to note that it’s perfectly normal for your circuit breaker to emit a low humming noise that’s audible to people standing next to the breaker. If the noise is no worse than this, your circuit breaker is functioning normally and there’s most likely no cause for concern. Otherwise, the buzzing may be related to one of the following issues:
The Breaker Is Failing to Trip
If the buzzing noise coming from your circuit breaker is loud enough that you can hear it even when you aren’t standing right next to the electrical panel, then a breaker may be failing to trip correctly. Circuit breakers are designed to “trip” when a particular circuit is channeling too much power to prevent the circuit from becoming overloaded. An overloaded circuit causes the wires to get too hot and presents a serious fire hazard.
If one of your building’s circuit breakers isn’t working correctly, the circuit may be currently overloaded, producing the buzzing sound you’re noticing. An overloaded circuit is an urgent safety issue that should be addressed by a licensed commercial electrical contractor as soon as possible.
There’s a Loose Wire
If you’re hearing a sizzling noise and occasionally seeing a spark in addition to the buzzing sound, you’re more likely dealing with a loose or damaged wire. A faulty wire in your building’s electrical panel is a critical safety hazard that needs to be addressed by a professional immediately. A loose or damaged wire can cause an electrical arc, which is when electricity jumps from the damaged wire to another wire. Electrical arcs are extremely dangerous and are responsible for tens of thousands of building fires in the U.S. every year.
If you suspect one of the wire’s in your building’s circuit breaker is loose, frayed, or otherwise damaged, it’s important that you don’t try to fix the problem yourself and keep away from the offending wire. A certified electrical contractor who can take the proper measures to address the problem safely.
How to Troubleshoot a Faulty Circuit Breaker
If you are experiencing a buzzing sound from your circuit breaker, it is important to troubleshoot the issue as soon as possible. The safest and most accurate way to do so is to contact an experienced electrical services professional. They’ll most likely use the following methods to determine the source of the issue:
- They may check for any visible signs of damage or corrosion on the circuit breaker. If there are any signs of damage, it’s usually best to replace the circuit breaker immediately.
- They may also make sure that all connections are secure by checking each terminal screw with a screwdriver. Loose connections are one of the common culprits of buzzing sounds in circuit breakers.
- Finally, they may check for any loose wires or frayed insulation near the circuit breaker box and repair them if necessary.
How to Replace a Circuit Breaker
Once you determine that you have a faulty circuit breaker, you may be wondering if it’s necessary to replace the circuit breaker entirely or if you can simply repair the faulty breaker. Circuit breakers aren’t meant to be repairable — they’re designed to be replaced once they wear out. When a breaker goes bad, it’s time for a new one.
Keep in mind that replacing a circuit breaker is a job best performed by an experienced professional in the electrical field, such as a licensed commercial electrical contractor. When you call a contractor to assess and/or replace a problematic circuit breaker, they’ll typically follow a process that looks something like this:
- The electrical contractor will begin by shutting off the main circuit breaker. They will also most likely use a voltage tester to make certain the electrical panel is not live before they start to work on it.
- Next, they will identify which circuit breaker needs to be replaced and disconnect it using a screwdriver or wrench.
- Then, the electrical contractor will test the new circuit breaker using a multimeter to ensure the new breaker is working correctly.
- The contractor will then insert the new breaker into the electrical panel and reattach the wires. They may check to make sure all the panel’s other screws and wires are well-secured while they’re at it.
- Finally, they will replace the cover on the electrical panel and turn the power back on.
Mistakes to Avoid When Troubleshooting a Circuit Breaker
Here are a few important “don’ts” you should remember in order to avoid some of the most common mistakes people make when dealing with circuit breakers:
- Do not attempt to replace the circuit breaker yourself. Contacting a licensed professional is always the safest option when working with electrical currents.
- Do not attempt any kind of work on a circuit breaker without first shutting off the building’s power.
- Do not touch any exposed wires.
Professional Circuit Breaker Services
If your business is experiencing electrical problems due to a faulty circuit breaker, Tapps Electric can provide the maintenance services you need to keep your employees safe (and your power on). A buzzing circuit breaker can be alarming, but if you’re hearing a buzzing noise from your business’s electrical panel, there’s no need to panic. Contact Tapps Electric today and we’ll get your circuit breaker back in safe, working order in hardly any time at all.
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