How to Check Your Breaker Box Before Reporting Power Outages

When your lights suddenly go out, checking your home's breaker box should be the first step before reporting an outage. A tripped circuit breaker is one of the most common reasons for power failure in a house. Resetting any flipped breakers can quickly restore electricity in some cases before contacting your electric utility.

What is a Breaker Box?

The breaker box, a panelboard or fuse box, is the central hub that routes electricity to your home. It contains multiple circuit breakers - each controlling power delivery to specific rooms or outlets on separate circuits. 

Circuit breakers are designed to trip and shut off when there is an overload or short to prevent electrical fires and damage. Some common reasons breakers trip include:

  • Using too many appliances on one circuit
  • Electrical shorts from frayed wiring or cords
  • Power surges from storms or damaged power lines
  • Faulty appliances and electronics
  • Old breakers tripping easier over time

How to Check and Reset Tripped Breakers

When checking for a tripped breaker, first locate your home's breaker box, typically in the basement, garage, or closet. Open the metal door and examine the breakers. Most will be labeled, indicating which rooms or circuits they control.

If the lever on a breaker is flipped to the OFF position, it has tripped:

  1. Flip the breaker entirely to OFF first, then back ON into the ON position to reset it.
  2. Try turning the power on in the room with the tripped breaker to see if the electricity is restored.
  3. Unplug the circuit's significant devices if it trips again and reset it. The issue may be overload from too many appliances.
  4. If that doesn't work, you likely have an electrical issue requiring professional repair before resetting the breaker again.

Call an electrician if they immediately trip again, indicating a more significant electrical problem. 

Contact Your Electric Company for Outages

If resetting breakers does not restore power, it is time to report the outage to your electric utility company. They can assess if there is a more extensive outage or send a crew to inspect your electrical issue.