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Circuit Breakers 101

If you are planning on adding new electrical wiring in your home, you should know the importance of circuit breakers in order to protect you, your family and your home from any accidents.

Electricity in Your Home

Homeowners should realize that residential electricity is actually dangerous. Everyday, a significant number of people die due to electrocution and faulty-wiring related fires. For this reason, it is important that you have your electrical wirings checked by the local authorities. In order to prevent such electrical accidents in your home, circuit breakers will play a major role.

What are Circuit Breakers?

Considered to be safety devices, circuit breakers function to disrupt electric current flow in instances of overload. You will be surprised to learn that these circuit breakers were primarily designed to protect the wires running to the fixtures, outlets and switches and not people from electrocution or equipment from large voltage surges.

A standard circuit breaker has numerous black switches enclosed in a gray panel. In most instances, the numbers 15, 20 or sometimes 30 can be seen, referring to the amperage amount that each switch can handle.

How Do Circuit Breakers Work

Circuit breakers designed for homes are tripped by two events:

  • When there is too much heat, a small bi-metal piece inside the circuit breaker bends – causing it to switch off.
  • When there is a short circuit cause by the touching of two wires – causing electricity to flow too quickly and generating sparks. Electromagnets in the circuit breakers sense the increase in electricity flow and switch the circuit breakers off immediately before the insulators start to melt.

These circuit breakers are also designed to withstand electrical current of certain amount without the risk of damage. This is measured in amps or amperes. The same principle is applied to extension cords and electrical wirings. If an extension cord has been rated 10 amps, any electric current in excess of 10 amps passing through the wires will result to damage to the wires.

Handling Electricity

Now that you know that electrical wiring is sensitive in terms of proper installation and ampere ratings, it is best that you take all necessary precautions when adding electrical wirings in your home.

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