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Why is the circuit breaker stuck in the middle?
Sunday, August 5, 2018
Some circuit breakers (not all) have three positions: ON, OFF, and TRIPPED. The ON position is towards the inside or top of the panel, and OFF is towards the outside or bottom of the panel. The middle position means the breaker has tripped due to an overcurrent problem—too much electricity was flowing through the circuit that the breaker protects, and it reacted and shut off to avoid overheating the wires and a potential fire.
A tripped breaker can be due to too many lights and appliances drawing more amperage than the rating of the breaker (typically 15 or 20 amps for general purpose circuits) or there may be a “short” in the circuit. A short happens when the electric current is unintentionally diverted, by loose or frayed wires or contact with components within an appliance that should not be electrified, to create a route with little resistance to current flow.
A short circuit will always trip the breaker immediately after you attempt to reset it and make it appear to be “stuck in the middle,” but too many lights and appliances on the circuit may take a few seconds or longer to re-trip a breaker. If disconnecting some of the loads on the circuit does not stop the breaker from tripping, then you likely have a short and need to call an electrician.
For a more detailed explanation of this problem and its solutions, see our blog ”My circuit breaker won't reset. What's wrong?"
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