What to Do Next If Your Circuit Breaker Sparks

A sparking circuit breaker should be considered an emergency. Don’t hesitate to call an electrician if a circuit breaker sparks because it can be an immediate risk to your life and safety.

Each breaker distributes electricity to a circuit in your home, which may power light fixtures, electronics, electrical devices, and appliances. Excessive current trips the breaker to cut off electricity and prevent shocks and fires. If a circuit breaker sparks, this is a sign the circuit is faulty or the breaker isn’t working properly.

When you have a sparking circuit breaker, the best thing to do is call a Ventura County electrician. Express Electrical Services provides 24/7 circuit breaker services to resolve potentially dangerous situations. Below, we’ll explain why sparking occurs and discuss some basic steps you should take when it does.

Why Does a Circuit Breaker Spark?

If a breaker sparks when turned on, the reasons can include:

  • The breaker isn’t receiving the right amount of electrical flow through the circuit.
  • The breaker’s contacts are bent or otherwise unable to make contact with the busbar.
  • A wire somewhere in the circuit is damaged.
  • A short circuit, especially if sparks occur when the breaker trips.
  • A loose connection somewhere in the breaker panel.

A crackling or buzzing sound from a circuit breaker is another sign of trouble. While a circuit breaker is designed to handle a lot of electricity, a loud, continuous buzzing noise means the panel isn’t working properly. Mechanical wear, damage, loose connections, and corrosion can lead to electrical fires. Moisture in a breaker can be a problem as well. Therefore, it’s important to call an electrician to provide immediate repairs.

Troubleshooting a Sparking Circuit Breaker

While it’s imperative you get an electrician to service your electrical panel ASAP, troubleshooting the issue can be helpful. To do so, you’ll want to turn off the main circuit breaker and then remove the panel cover. Once the cover is off, turn the main breaker back on. 

If nothing sparks, turn each circuit breaker off and on to see which one sparks. Usually, sparks come from the wires on the breaker. If the panel itself sparks, it must be replaced by a qualified electrician. Turn the main breaker off again and call for help.

If you have some electrical experience, you can try troubleshooting the issue further. Here is how:

  • Turn the main breaker off. Then tighten the screws holding the circuit breaker that sparks to the electrical line. Turn the breakers back on to see if there’s still sparking. 
  • With the main breaker off, remove the black or red wire leading to the sparking breaker. Then place a wire nut at the end that will separate the wire from a live component.
  • Check if the circuit breaker sparks when you turn on a certain appliance. Avoid using that appliance until the issue is fixed. 

In any case, permanently resolving the underlying issue requires technical expertise and professional tools. There’s no DIY fix if a breaker sparks when turned on. Whether a circuit breaker or the panel is sparking, an experienced electrician can determine the cause and make any necessary repairs.

When Do I Call an Electrician?

Contact an electrician if a circuit breaker sparks frequently or continuously. If the spark is just a one-time occurrence, it might just be an isolated incident, but be aware of whether it happens again. Repeated sparks should raise a red flag about the condition or quality of the circuit breaker or a problem with the breaker panel. An electrical technician can replace the affected breaker or the panel, or rewire the circuit if there’s a short.

Contact Express Electrical Services

If a circuit breaker sparks, our Ventura County electricians will perform circuit breaker repair. We provide all types of electrical services in the Los Angeles area. No matter how big or small the issue, our licensed technicians can promptly fix it. Our team is available 24/7 and can dispatch qualified electricians to your home within 60 to 90 minutes. Contact us online or call 323-727-7799 to request service.