As electricity flows through electrical wiring and circuitry it will create a small electromagnetic field. The field is only noticeable with precise equipment, but when the field gets large enough it will become audible. An electromagnetic field will become larger when there is resistance in the in the path of electricity. Breaker boxes and service panels are perfectly normal to emit a slight humming sound, however, if there is a clearly audible buzz, there may be a larger issue.
Types of Circuit Breakers
Circuit breakers come in two varieties: 120-volt, which takes up one slot on your breaker panel and can handle 15 to 20 amps, and 240-volt, which takes up two slots and can handle 15 to 200 amps. A general rule is to keep your maximum amperage on a circuit at 80% of the breakers capacity.
Overloaded Circuit Breaker
An audible buzzing sound coming out of your circuit breaker box might be a sign of an overloaded circuit. Modern circuit breakers still have issues, but it is less likely for a newer circuit breaker to overload than an older circuit breaker. Circuit breakers are designed to automatically shut off when electricity draw exceeds its limits. However, a circuit breaker can also become stuck on when this occurs.
Overloaded Circuit Causes
Circuit overloading is a common issue among older homes that have not received breaker box updates. Overloading occurs when the electricity drawn exceeds the circuit breakers maximum amperage. A common cause of this is improperly installed electrical devices or fixtured that were chained onto a pre-existing loop rather than installed on a new circuit breaker.
Fixing an Overloaded Circuit
The first step to fixing an overloaded circuit is to find which circuit is overloading. The easiest way to pinpoint where the noise is coming from is to turn the circuits off one by one checking for when the noise stops. Experiment with switching various circuits on and off until you find exactly where the noise could be coming from. If the circuit breaker continues to make noise regardless of how many circuits have been shut off, then there may be a larger electrical issue.
Circuit breakers can be easy to replace, however, if you are not comfortable with the task, it is best to hire the help of an electrical professional. A professional electrician will also be able to help pinpoint why the circuit breaker had a malfunction in the first place, potentially saving you from further electrical issues. Learn more about Bryant Electric’s breaker box and service panel repair services.