1. Why can’t I turn the tripped circuit breaker
in my panel back on?
In order to reset a tripped circuit breaker you
need to make sure the switch is all the way in
the “off” position (you’ll feel it click) first.
Make sure the switch is all the way in the off
position. If you can return it to the “on”
position (you’ll hear and feel another click)
without tripping again, you’ve successfully
reset the circuit breaker. If the circuit
breaker will not reset—or trips again when the
switch is set to the “on” position—you may have
a short circuit or an overload on that circuit.
Make sure you don’t have too many items plugged
in to one circuit. Try unplugging some devices.
If that doesn’t solve the problem, you may want
to have an electrician look at it.
2. Do I need to worry about outlets that don’t
It sounds overly simple, but a lot of us
overlook wall switches—particularly if we’ve
just moved into a home. Try a little test. Plug
a small lamp into a working outlet and unplug it
with the switch still on. Then plug it into the
outlet that isn’t working. Look for wall
switches in the room (there may be more than
one). Try turning the wall switch on. You may
find the answer to your problem (and don’t be
embarrassed—we’ve all done this!). If there are
no wall switches try all the other outlets in
the room and if there’s no tripped circuit in
your breaker box, you may need to have an
electrician check to see if there’s a short
somewhere in the system.
3. I’ve changed the bulb on a light mounted in
my back yard, but it still won’t light up. Do I
have a short?
It’s possible that you have a short circuit. It
could be that whoever installed the light didn’t
adequately protect the wiring. It could have
been cut accidently by someone digging or mowing
in the yard. It could be that you simply need to
replace the photocell because they can wear out.
4. Do I need to worry if the dimmer on the light
in my dining room is hot to the touch?
Don’t worry about it unless it’s uncomfortably
hot or you hear a buzzing sound. Smelling
plastic burning or noticing your lights
flickering should also be an indicator that you
want to have a specialist take a look.
5. Why does turning on my cabinet-mounted
microwave sometimes trip my circuit breaker?
Many cabinet-mounted microwaves (added to the
house after it was built) draw between 1100 and
1800 watts. Builders often install a range hood
above the oven/range only to exhaust cooking
fumes. A 15-amp lighting circuit is adequate for
an exhaust fan. But often that fan shares a
circuit with lights and other outlets in the
kitchen. It’s just too much of a draw. You
really should install a new 20-amp 120 volt
dedicated circuit for that microwave.