Why Does My Generator Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping?

A big storm is heading for your neighborhood. Local authorities have advised you to expect prolonged power outages. Fortunately, you’re prepared because your home has a whole-house backup generator. 

As predicted, the storm rolls in, and you lose power; your generator kicks on only to trip a few seconds later. You run to reset the breaker, and the same thing happens again!

While this issue can be frustrating and even potentially dangerous, it’s not uncommon. There are many possible causes for a generator’s circuit breaker to trip, or in some cases, fail without tripping. Fortunately, there are various simple steps that you can take to restore power to your home during a blackout.

What Causes a Circuit Breaker to Trip?

Many homeowners don’t realize that their home generator may come with two different types of circuit breakers. Standard breakers and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) breakers.

Standard circuit breakers are automatically operated overcurrent protection devices fitted to a generator, designed to trip (cut power) when the unit is drawing in more amps than the circuit can manage.

When too many appliances are connected to a generator, more electricity is flowing through the circuit than it can handle, causing it to overload and trip the breaker to protect your devices. 

GCFI breakers, on the other hand, are designed to detect and handle “power leaks” that occur when an electrical current tries to ground itself using a different path than the one provided for the generator.

Power leaks can be caused by a combination of moisture, dust, or worn-out wires. When the GCFI detects a difference in the electrical input and output, the breaker will trip, preventing potential fires or electrocution.

How To Fix a Tripping Generator

The most important thing to remember is that your generator is tripping for a reason. The breakers are doing their job to protect you and your connected devices from harm. If it continuously happens, you’re going to need to address an underlying issue. Here are a few things you can do to fix your tripping breaker:

  • Identify which breaker is tripping – If your generator has both standard circuit breakers and GFCI’s, the first thing you need to do is find out which one is tripping to help you narrow down the possible issues. 
  • Disconnect non-essential appliances during blackouts – Overloading your generator circuit devices is a sure-fire way to trip the breaker. Depending on the size of your generator, you may want to consider limiting your power usage to necessary appliances such as HVAC systems, refrigerators, and garage door openers.
  • Avoid “daisy-chaining” power strips – Plugging a power strip into an extension cord or even another power strip is not only an easy way to overload the circuit but, according to the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA), is one of the leading causes of home electrical fires.

Contact the Generator Pros

If, even after your best efforts to find a solution, your generator circuit breaker keeps tripping, it’s time to contact the pros. At Midwest Generator Solutions, we care about the safety of your family and your home. For years, our team of expert technicians has provided top-notch generator installation, repair, and maintenance service to the residents of central Indiana. 

Don’t get caught in the dark! Contact us today to schedule a consultation.