Kitchen Circuit Breaker Keeps Tripping

Posted on: November 22nd, 2011 by Glen 4 Comments

One of the most common electrical problem repair calls goes something like this: "I have a short in my kitchen wiring and the breaker keeps tripping off". Most of the time is just an overload circuit due to various heating and cooking appliance in use at the same time. Of course a short in kitchen outlet wiring or one of the appliances may be the real problem.

Most homes have two or more 20 amp outlet circuits installed in the kitchen and dining areas. Electric grills, toasters, coffee makers and electric fryers are all high amperage appliances drawing over 1500 watts or 12 amps each. It is not safe to use more than one of these appliances at the same time on one circuit.

The typical kitchen outlet wiring is rated at 2,400 watts or 20 amps. Using the same outlet, or circuit, for making coffee and using the toaster will result in creating an over-load. The normal coffee machine is approximately 1500 watts or 12 – 13 amps and the normal toaster is 1,500 wattage and 12 -13 ampe rage. When using the two appliances together you are using 3,000 wattage and 24-25 amperage of power. This is well over the 2,400 watt limit and 20 amp rating so when the circuit breaker reads the power being used it is reading it as an overload, it trips and shuts off the power supply to the over-loaded circuit.

To avoid over loading a circuit be sure to use separate outlets on different circuits for your kitchen appliances. If this does occur you must reset the breaker. A tripped breaker will be just off the on and off position some where in the middle look closely. To reset the tripped breaker, find the switch in your home's circuit breaker box, and flip the switch all the way to the "off" position and then back "on" again.  If the circuit breaker trips again, call the electrician for repairs.

If you are experiencing this type of problem have a qualified licensed electrician install an additional circuits and outlets to your kitchen to fit you cooking needs.

Why Can't I Just Install a Bigger Breaker?

It may sound like a good idea to just replace the breaker with a larger one. However replacing a breaker with an over-sized one is a bad idea. The breaker as well as the wiring has particular power ratings and just replacing a 20 amp breaker with a 30 amp is very dangerous and can result in death! Just as the breaker has a specification so does the wire running to the outlets in your home. If the breakers are oversized, too much power travels through the wire causing overheating of the wire.

The National Electrical Code or NEC and the National Fire Protection Association have specific codes that limit the voltage and ampere or power that a wire can safely handle. They update the codes about every three years to stay current with fire and life safety hazards, equipment, and new technologies. Electricians and electrical installations are the most regulated field of construction and for good reason.


4 Responses

  1. Laura

    October 25, 2013

    How do I know if there is a “short” in a wall receptacle or my appliance?

  2. Terry

    October 30, 2013

    Since it is not uncommon to use both a toaster oven & coffee maker simultaneously, as well as an electric mixer, microwave or some other device, why have two 20 amp circuits instead of one 30 amp circuit (with appropriate wiring to go with larger breaker)? Do new or redone kitchens go this route or is there a safety reason to use several smaller circuits?

    • Glen

      November 18, 2014

      Most kitchens already have two different 20 amps circuits in them. You’ll have figure witch outlets are on each circuit and then split up the concurrent loads between them.
      The 30 amp wiring circuit idea will not work because the outlets the themselves are only rated for 15 or 20 amp maximum.

  3. glen

    November 2, 2013

    Laura. an easy way is to unplug the appliance in question. After you unplug it check to see if the breaker shorts out again.


Leave a Reply to glen