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Why Your Heater May Be Tripping the Circuit Breaker

Your heater receives power from your home’s electrical system (yes, even a gas furnace or boiler—we’ll get to that). That means your heating system could cause a circuit breaker in the electrical panel to trip when it’s running. If this happens once, but doesn’t reoccur after you reset the breaker, then it’s probably not a major problem. But if is happens more than once, you may need heating or electrical repairs to solve the problem.

Gas-powered heaters require electricity!

It’s easy to assume that a gas-powered heater or boiler won’t suffer from electrical issues. But both use electrical components to run. The furnace has a blower, and the boiler has a circulator pump. Newer models also depend on electronic ignition systems to light the burners, so the heater won’t even start unless there’s voltage flowing through the circuits.

Why the heater might trip a circuit breaker

The most common reason for a heating system to overload a circuit is because the blower is overstrained. (This won’t occur in a boiler, which isn’t a forced-air system.) An overstrained heater or furnace often occurs because the air filter is clogged. When the circuit breaker trips, check on the filter and change it if it’s filled with debris and dust. Continue to change the filter on a regular basis through the season, every 1 to 3 months as needed.

Also check on room vents to see that none of them are blocked or closed. If 20% or more of the vents are blocked, the resulting pressure on the blower fan can trigger electrical overload.

The problem may not lie in the heating system specifically. It could be that the electrical panel needs repairs or is due for an upgrade. There might be wiring trouble. Or another appliance on the same circuit is causing cause overload.

You’ll need HVAC technicians or licensed electricians to solve the problem if it isn’t something simple like the air filter. Thankfully, we’re both!  We can repair the heating system or electrical panel—whatever is necessary.

Brilliant Electric Heating & Cooling has served Niles, IL and Chicagoland since 1956.

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