Why The Circuit Breaker On The Generator Keeps Tripping


As a homeowner, there is a power outage, and you’re not worried because you have a generator to provide electricity. But as you power it on, the circuit breaker automatically keeps turning it off after a few seconds. Now you want to know why the circuit breaker on the generator keeps tripping.

The Circuit Breaker is a control switch that manages the power flow in the generator. When your generator carries more than it should, the Circuit Breaker will naturally trip off to avoid damage.

Keep reading to know why the circuit breaker on your generator keeps tripping.

Why The Circuit Breaker On The Generator Keeps Tripping

When too many electrical appliances connect to your generator, the voltage will increase and cause the Circuit Breaker on the generator to trip off. When this happens, it is known as generator overload. The Circuit Breaker doesn’t need a manual operator to function.

As a control device that prevents possible damages from occurring due to high voltage and excess load, it trips off automatically when it detects a fault.

However, when the Circuit Breaker on your generator keeps tripping off, it can cause the circuit breaker device to break. But, there is no need to panic because this article has the best solutions to solving the issue of why the circuit breaker keeps tripping.

Why Is My Generator Tripping Off?

When your generator trips off, one of the reasons could be generator overload. This overload occurs when the load it carries is too heavy. Another reason could be that the Circuit Breaker is faulty. Asides from this, there are other reasons your generator could trip off.

When your generator trips off, it suddenly shuts out power and disconnects your appliances. But then, it will not just go off abruptly without first showing you signs. One sign could be that the generator will begin to shake violently.

Signs That Your Generator Is Overloading

  • When your generator overloads, but the circuit breaker doesn’t trip off, it shows that the circuit breaker device is no longer functioning. 
  • When your generator suddenly makes grumbling sounds, it is a sign that the power output is overloaded.
  • When your generator begins to puff out thick black smoke, it is another sign of overheating.

However, these signs don’t just happen in a vacuum. Certain factors lead to it. Here are some causes you should know about;

Causes Of Generator Tripping Off

  • When the circuit breaker that controls the electric current that flows through the generator is faulty, the generator will overload and trip off. This excess load can cause damage to your appliances.
  • Another reason occurs when the oil isn’t sufficient. When your generator lacks enough engine oil, asides from tripping off, it can also cause it to stop working.
  • Lack of sufficient fuel.
  • When the plug is old or full of rust, your generator will trip off.
  • Another reason occurs when the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Device(GFCI) is faulty.

How Do You Stop The Generator From Tripping Off

When your generator automatically turns off, you don’t have to panic. Here are some tips to help you stop the generator from tripping off;

  • High voltage can cause the circuit breaker to explode and stop functioning. When that happens, ensure that you replace it.
  • Ensure that the generator is not carrying loads that are heavier than its capacity. For instance, an industrial lister generator has more electric-generating power than a mini generator. Automatically, this tells you that you can’t use a mini generator for commercial purposes.
  • If your generator trips off due to a plug full of rust, unscrew it and use a wire brush or spray-on plug cleaner to scrape it out. If it is too old, replace it.
  • Ensure that the fuel tank has no leakages. Also, fill the tank with enough fuel before switching it on.
  • Check the oil residual to ensure the engine has sufficient oil. If the oil is too black, turn it out and refill. The black oil indicates dirt. If you allow it, it will clog the engine and cause damage.
  • Check the wiring system to ensure they’re intact.
  • Inject fuel cleaner once in a while into the fuel tank. The reason is that some fuels have particles that can cause the generator to smoke and trip off.
  • You can also increase the power voltage on the generator. Doing this will expand its capacity to accept extra loads.
  • Hire a professional electrician to service the generator once or twice a month to make it run smoothly.

Why The Circuit Breaker On The Generator Keeps Tripping?

The Circuit Breaker protects your generator and prevents it from overloading and overheating. So when it trips off, it is likely that the load on the generator is heavier than what it can carry or the voltage is high. It may also turn off when the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Device notices a fault.

The Circuit Breaker on your generator will indeed trip off due to overload, but sometimes, that may not be the major reason. Here are other factors to look out for;

  1. When your generator trips off because the ground circuit interrupter detected a fault, the fault is usually not because of generator overload. The GFCI keeps track of the electric current that flows through the grounding wires into the house. Once it notices any fault, it will automatically trip off the generator to prevent power from flowing into a dangerous connection.
  2. When the wire connection in your engine is misplaced or loose, the circuit breaker will sense a problem and trip off immediately. In some cases, your generator may not power.
  3. Dirt clogs and overheating can cause the generator to smoke. Once it begins to smoke, the circuit breaker will trip off.
  4. Another reason could be that the circuit breaker is weak and can no longer perform its function. When this happens, you need to replace the circuit breaker.

How To Determine Which Breaker Has Tripped

The generator usually has two breakers – the Circuit and the Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Device Breaker. While the Circuit Breaker trips off the generator when there is an overload, the Ground Interrupter trips it off when it detects a dangerous power flow in the ground connections.

When your generator trips off, determine which breaker caused that. Here are the issues to look out for;

How To Determine For Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter Device Tripping

  • Check the fuses. If it is spoilt, it will have black patches on the surface.
  • Check the electric panel switch. The switch should be to the right, but if it switches to the left, there’s a fault.
  • Check the receptacle. If the reset button has shifted from its position, it shows electrical abnormality.

How To Determine For Circuit Breaker Tripping

  • Remove the part that covers the generator’s board.
  • Check the Circuit Breaker panel, and you’ll find buttons on it.
  • All buttons are usually on the left. If one switches position to the right or middle, then know that your generator tripped off due to overload.

How To Fix Circuit Breaker That Keeps Tripping | Step-by-step process

Once your Circuit Breaker trips off, the wires that connect it will disconnect. If you don’t fix it, it will keep tripping off. To fix this;

  • Step 1: Use a spanner to loosen the bolts on the control board. Once open, locate the circuit breaker device and unscrew the screws.
  • Step 2: Find the disconnected wires and reconnect them.
  • Step 3: Remove the screw on the Circuit Breaker and insert the reconnected wires in it.
  • Step 4: Screw back the wood screws to their position.
  • Step 5: Place back the control board, then screw in the bolts.

However, when your generator keeps tripping the Circuit Breaker, the force can cause the Circuit Breaker to break. When the breaker breaks, you’ll have to fix it. Here are the quick steps to get it done.

How To Replace The Circuit Breaker On Your Generator

  1. Ensure to buy a good quality Circuit Breaker
  2. Use a spanner to loose out the bolts that hold the control board. Doing this will give you access to the Circuit Breaker.
  3. Keep the bolts in a safe place.
  4. Once you open the control board, you’ll find two nuts on the Circuit Breaker panel. Unscrew them to remove the damaged breaker.
  5. Disconnect the wires from the faulty Circuit Breaker.
  6. Attach the new Circuit Breaker device and reconnect the two wires.
  7. Fix the breaker device into its position on the control board and retighten the screws.
  8. Place the control board back in its position and tighten the screws.
  9. Switch on your Circuit Breaker and test-run it.

Wrap Up – Why The Circuit Breaker On The Generator Keeps Tripping

Every Circuit Breaker help detects electrical abnormalities in the home or the generator. They trip off a lot automatically immediately they sense danger. Once the Circuit Breaker begins to trip, it will not stop until you fix the issue. 

To prevent your generator from tripping off, ensure to reconnect all loose wires. Also, reduce generator overload by reducing the number of appliances you connect to the generator.

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