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If you need replacement circuit breakers, it may be tempting to save money by swapping your old make and model with a set of GE breakers or other brands. It can be tricky to order replacement circuit breakers that aren't the exact make and model of the ones previously used in your system. When placing an order, it's best to speak directly to a customer service rep to learn what types of GE circuit breakers may be compatible with your breaker box.
You may be able to locate less expensive replacement General Electric circuit breakers to use, but if they don't match the configuration of your old circuit breakers they may be incompatible. How many poles do you need? How many volts and amps? Know the specs of your old circuit breakers and have them ready when ordering the replacement circuit breakers.
When a GE circuit breaker "trips", it interrupts the flow of electricity to prevent an electrical hazard. There are two types of circuit breakers in your breaker box--the mains, which regulate the electricity to the entire building, and the individual circuit breakers for specific areas of the home such as the kitchen, living room and bedrooms. If your GE circuit breakers trip for a specific area of the home, power will remain on for the rest of the house. If your mains trip, all power is cut off until you can reset your GE circuit breaker.
Resetting the circuit breaker for the "single area" trip is simple; go to the breaker box and look for the circuit breakers labeled for the part of the building without power. You will see the switch for this breaker or set of breakers is in the "off" position, or positioned in the exact opposite of all the other circuit breaker switches. Turn the GE circuit breaker back to the "on" position and you should have power restored. The procedure for resetting the mains is the same, but you will need a flashlight. Do not attempt to reset the mains in the dark without seeing the electrical panel--always use a light so you can see exactly where your hand is going in and around the breaker box.
If you are still learning about electric wiring, residential power supplies and how your GE breakers fit into the picture, it's easy to misinterpret the purpose of low voltage circuit breakers. In this case, "low voltage" simply means a circuit breaker rated to handle a load of 600 volts or less. Since most homes use mains rated between 100-400 volts, they only require low voltage circuit breakers.
High voltage circuit breakers are made for heavy-duty use rather than in-home applications. Your low voltage circuit breakers are designed to trip based on heat measurements; the heat from a normal load is lower than a high current. When the heat goes above the limit the GE circuit breaker is calibrated for, the breaker trips and cuts the power. You can reset the circuit breaker, but if the high load continues, the breaker will trip once more.
A GE circuit breaker is designed to trip under specific circumstances. If the circuit carries more electricity than it is supposed to carry, the circuit breaker activates and interrupts the flow of electricity by physically preventing the current from reaching the wall socket. There are many reasons why your circuit breakers trip, including faulty residential electric wiring. There are miles of wires in the home, connecting your outlets to the breaker box, so how can you find out if faulty wiring is the problem? How can you tell if it's not a faulty appliance causing the problem, or too many appliances running at once?
The answer to the general question is simple enough. Turn off and unplug all the appliances in the area the tripped GE circuit breaker has affected. Go to the breaker box, find the GE circuit breaker (or other model) and try to reset it by turning it back on. If the power stays on in that area of the home, you have a problem with the items plugged into the wall sockets rather than the wiring. If the circuit trips again right away, chances are good your wiring is to blame.