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Understanding Your Circuit Breaker

A person opening their circuit breaker box

A circuit breaker is standard in homes today. While most people have at least heard of a circuit breaker, some wouldn’t be able to accurately point out where theirs is within the walls of their home, let alone know why it’s there or how to operate it. Circuit breakers are installed for purposes of safety, potentially the most important safety device throughout your entire home. Learn more about the circuit breaker, and how you can use it to more effectively keep your home safe and running.

Circuit Breaker

Protecting Against Danger

Since electricity was first used to produce power in the 1800s, many steps have been taken to improve the efficiency and better understand how this power works. Today most of our homes function as a direct result of electricity run through the wiring of the structure. This electrical current demands respect. It is so powerful, it can easily kill a person with no problem. While the appliances work as a resistance to keep the electricity contained, there  are instances where one or more of the appliances can overheat. Without the circuit breaker, this would lead to melting of the neutral wires, causing them to touch and leading to an electrical fire, or worse a deadly electrical shock. The circuit breaker is able to detect this danger before it occurs and will open the circuit. This directs electricity away from this area of the home.

The Breaker Design

Your circuit breaker is composed of a few different components, each ensuring safety in the home. These parts include:

  • The fuse – this is a thin wire secured inside a casing that goes into the circuit. All the electricity produced is surged through the fuse when the circuit is closed. To avoid the same problem with appliances, this fuse is designed to disintegrate when the heat reaches too high a level, protecting against fires. Every time a fuse is blown, it is necessary to replace it for it to continue working as it should. The fuse is separate from the circuit breaker, which can continue working after one use.
  • Simple switch – the simple switch will be connected to an electromagnet or a bimetallic strip.
  • The Electromagnet – this is magnetized to increase the boost in the magnetic force. When the current reaches too high, this has the strength to pull a metal lever down to effectively shut off the electricity.
  • Bimetallic strip – this works similar to the electromagnet but instead the high current will bend to stip the link.

The circuit breaker in your home is crucial for safety. By learning how to react when the circuit breaker goes off, and more about this essential function, it can help you to be more aware, while respecting the potential dangers here.

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