Are you having problems with the switch of your main breaker? In most cases it is stuck in the ‘off’ position and you do not know how to go about this. This is a common issue that many people raise in online platforms.
Usually, different people offer different solutions which may leave you in a state of confusion mainly because you do not know which of them will solve the problem at hand. The main breaker controls power supply to all appliances in your house and therefore you cannot do without it.
The moment you realize that the switch of the breaker does not move when you push it or it seems like it is in lock position, there is definitely a problem with it. As much as this is a DIY project, you may need the help of a professional if you experience any complications.
What is a main breaker?
Wondering what a main breaker is and how it functions? We have the answers here. A main breaker is a switch that powers on and off in order to control current flow through an electric circuit.
There are other smaller breakers within the main breaker referred to as branch breakers but deal with lower amperage unlike the former. Basically, its main purpose is to protect the main electric circuit from any damages.
This means that in case there is a short circuit or an overload, the main breaker will detect this fault immediately and automatically shuts off to stop the current from flowing. This will protect your electric appliances from blowing off.
Unlike the fuses that need replacement in case there is a power surge, circuit breakers are more convenient because all you need to do is switch off the appliances causing the overload and return the breaker to the ‘on’ position and you are good to go.
There exist three main types of main breakers; residential breakers can handle low voltage and are common in our homes; medium-voltage breakers are for apartment buildings while high-voltage breakers are for utility companies that serve a large population.
In most cases, main breaker boxes are outside the wall on your house, your garage or your laundry room. Having a main breaker will protect you against electrocution. Notably, never rely on branch breakers for the safety of your appliances because they cannot deal with high voltages.
Why do main breaker switches get stuck in an ‘off’ position?
It becomes very frustrating when the switch of your main breaker does not move. It remains stuck in the ‘off’ position whereas you want to turn it back on. Some of the reasons that lead to this include:
i. Overloading of circuit
If you connect many appliances, say more than 5 to one circuit, then there will definitely be an overload and this may cause the breaker to trip and remain in the off position.
ii. Short circuits
There are scenarios where the hot wire carrying electricity meets up with the neutral wire. You will notice some signs such as dimming lights, burning odors from sockets or mild shock from appliances. This may cause a fire if no one attends to the issue. The main breaker switch will then move to the ‘off’ position
iii. Faulty breaker
Your breaker may be faulty and that is why it is stuck. However, this is not something that happens occasionally. When this occurs, all you need to do is apply more pressure on the switch and try flipping it off.
Further, the switch may also have a mechanical problem and that is why it becomes stiff and holds on to the ‘off’ position.
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How to fix Main Breaker Switch stuck in off position
Upon knowing what leads to the main breaker switch not moving from the off position, it is important to learn how to fix this. First thing to do is confirm whether the switch is really in the middle position or somewhere between the middle and off position or actually in the off position.
This could probably be a short circuit problem or faulty breaker. You may need to fix it before calling an electrician; this is if you are not afraid of handling electricity on your own.
Resetting the main breaker is the simplest solution to this. Hold the switch firmly and move it to the ‘on’ position and then switch it off again. At this point you need to apply as much pressure as you can on the switch in case it is stiff. If this does not work, you should most likely give a call to your electrician.
Additionally, identifying a short circuit is the other solution. How can you tell that there is a short circuit? If you try resetting your breaker and it does not work or if it trips repeatedly, the probability is high that it could be a short circuit.
Short circuits are really dangerous and could damage your appliances or cause a house fire in general. Seek the services of a professional in this case.
Moreover, you can test to see if your breaker is the problem. Do this by turning off both the main and branch breakers. Identify the tripping breaker and turn it on. If the breaker stays off, then it is faulty.
Again, turn the main breaker on as you turn off the breaker that is tripping off. And for the other branch breakers, turn them on one by one. This will give you your answer on whether your breaker is faulty.
When dealing with electricity, you need to put on protective wear such as gloves or eye goggles. If you do not have gloves, you can use your bare hands but first ensure that they are dry to prevent electrocution. Main breakers also have a limited lifetime and if they may need replacement if; they trip on frequent occasions, they will not reset or they cause physical damages to your appliances.
It is important to understand how your home’s main breaker system works so as to protect you and your appliances altogether. This article helps you learn how to fix the main breaker switch that is stuck in the off position to help you solve some of the problems you experience with electricity in your homes. Always ensure you take the necessary precautions where possible.