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How to keep space heater from tripping the breaker?

During the cold winter days, when people crave to get warmth, space heaters function as perfect rescuers. A space heater heats the indoor air and makes you feel warm and comfortable. One common problem faced by most homeowners using a space heater is the breaker tripping occasionally.

If you’re facing the same problem, don’t worry! There could be a reason behind this problem, and if you can figure out the underlying cause, solution is just minutes away. For example, the circuit may be overloaded, there is a fault in the breaker or the space heater, or the extension board is unable to bear the space heater power load. 

breaker tripping – image source

Whatever the reason is, if you successfully identify and do the necessary corrections, you can solve this tripping problem. This article is all about the reasons and solutions on how to keep the space heater from tripping the breaker. So let’s start ripping of the possible reasons one by one.

Common Reasons Why a Space Heater Trips Breaker 

A list of common reasons for breaker tripping is addressed below. You may go through the solutions. You can fix most of the problems yourself while some requires the services of a professional electrician.  

#1 The Circuit Is Overloaded 

One of the most common reason for breaker tripping caused by space heater or any other electrical appliance is “circuit overload”. An electrical circuit is overloaded when too many devices are connected to the circuit, drawing very high current beyond the actual power rating.

Circuit overload – Image Source

If an “overload” occurs, the higher current will result in more heat through the circuit, eventually causing a burn or small fire. So, to keep the other appliances and you safe from possible danger, the breaker automatically trips.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that, every circuit has its own power limit. You should not connect more devices to a circuit beyond its power limit.

You can find the power rating of a circuit by referring to the manual. A space heater is a high power device (in the range between 500 to 1500 watts usually), and you should connect a space heater to a high power plug only (a circuit plug that can support high power devices).

#2 The Space Heater Is Damaged 

Sometimes the issue can be with the heater itself, tripping the breaker for safety. To check if there is an issue with the heater, first, turn OFF the heater, put the temperature setting to the lowest, turn ON the heater again. If the breaker trips again, you may assume the space heater is faulty.

One of the common problems found with a space heater is the “overheating” issue. This occurs when one of the heating elements is damaged, forcing the other heating element to take up the extra load. The internal wires will get heated up which will trip the breaker eventually.

Since one heating element is faulty, the other one will be overloaded and draw more current from the circuit. As a result, one side of the panel box will be overloaded, causing the breaker to trip. 

Some other issues commonly found are with the power cord and socket. If the power cord is overheated or faulty, the breaker will trip. The socket can also be at fault sometimes.

#3 Problem With the Extension Cord 

Space heaters are high-power appliances, and their wattage rating varies between 400 watts to 1500 watts. Most space heaters used in homes are 1500 watts and are not suitable for use with normal extension cords.

Ordinary extension cord

If you use an ordinary extension cord to power a space heater, the higher current (than the power rating of extension cord) will heat up the wires resulting in burns or even a fire. The breaker will trip to prevent such an incident.

High Power Extension Cord

 The safest option here is to power the space heater from a wall socket (with a proper power rating that can handle the space heater watts). If you are to use an extension cord, then buy one that can handle high-power devices.

#4 Problem With the Breaker 

If you notice that the heater is running fine, the wires are perfect, and there is no overload in the circuit, but the space heater keeps tripping the breaker, the issue might be with the breaker. Although it is not very common, it is not impossible as well. The breaker can get loose and become less efficient with time. 

Also, a breaker can get damaged due to switching on and off multiple times, circuit overloads & overheats, damage of internal components, etc. If the breaker is faulty, it will trip even if there are no problems with the space heater or cord. To know this, you can run the space heater in another room and see if the breaker trips. 

You can also check if the issue continues by using another appliance instead of the space heater. Once you confirm that the space heater is faulty, you should replace it to start using your appliances safely. You can do it yourself if you know how to do it. Otherwise, you can call an electrician to help you with this. 

Possible Solutions to Keep a Space Heater from Tripping Breaker 

Several reasons are there why a space heater keeps tripping the breaker. So, you have to perform the possible fixes once you understand the reason for the breaker tripping issue in your home. Here are some possible solutions that you can try depending on the actual reason for the issue. 

1. Avoid Overloading Electrical Circuits 

As discussed above, overloading the circuit is a major reason for breaker tripping. So, your aim should be to decrease loads on the circuit as much as possible. First of all, you shouldn’t run too many high-power appliances in one circuit because it can increase the load for the circuit. 

Also, keep an eye on the number of devices connected to the circuit and unplug the ones that are not running. Even if the device is not running, the current will be flowing through it. So, it will be better to unplug the appliance from the circuit for safety. 

2. Check The Wiring of The Space Heater

You should conduct a regular checkup of your space heater, wiring, and parts and ensure that everything is fine. If there is any damage or wear and tear, you should fix them before using the heater again. The wirings of the heater shouldn’t have any damages to keep the appliance safe from potential hazards. 

Damaged wiring can melt the fuse to protect other parts of the heater and other appliances in the circuit. This indicates that the heater is faulty, and it should be repaired or replaced. You should never run a space heater that has damaged parts because it has the potential to trip the breaker. 

3. Use A Dedicated Outlet for Heater

In order to solve the breaker tripping issue by the space heater, you will have to first understand where the actual problem is in the heater or the circuit. If the issue is in the heater, you can repair or replace it. 

If there is a problem with the circuit, you can add a dedicated outlet for your space heater from where you can run the heater safely. This way, you can prevent breaker tripping by the space heater and maintain warmth in your room. 

4. Try Running the Heater at Lowest Setting

A space heater trips breaker if there is an overload or the heater is faulty. But sometimes, running the heater at a lower setting can solve the issue. You can check your space heater settings and choose the lower heating option to solve this issue. When you run the heater at a lower heating setting, it may solve the tripping issue. 

Tripping breaker by a space heater is a warning sign that states that there is a problem with the circuit, heater, breaker, or wiring of the heater. So, you should focus on solving this issue instead of running the heater in the same circuit again and again. If you are wondering how to keep space heater from tripping breaker, here are some tips that you can follow to make this happen. 

Tips For Using a Space Heater Safely

  • Use your space heater at a lower heat setting so that the chances of tripping the breaker will be reduced.
  • Don’t use two heating devices in one circuit simultaneously. 
  • Most extension cords are not designed for heavy loads, so you shouldn’t connect too many devices to one extension cord. 
  • Turn off the heater immediately if the wires heat up or the heater overheats. 
  • Maintain distance between the space heater and other electrical devices and flammable items in your home. 

Related Questions 

Why Does a Circuit Breaker Trip? 

One of the most common reasons for the tripping of a breaker is too much current flow through it. When more current flows through the breaker than its capacity, it trips to keep your appliances and the circuit safe from potential dangers. Otherwise, it can lead to overheating and fire hazards. 

My Wiring and Wall Socket Get Hot When I Turn on My Space Heater. What Is the Reason? 

The heating of the wall socket and wires indicate that there is a fault in the wiring. You can call an expert to review your circuit and help you solve this problem. 

Is It Safe to Keep Running a Space Heater All Night? 

No, it is not a good idea to keep the heater running when you sleep. High-power appliances like space heaters should be operated carefully to ensure safety.