Solve space heater problems: Troubleshooting a tripping circuit breaker

Written by Adam Morris
4 Min read
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Is your space heater tripping the circuit breaker?

One of the most common problems with space heaters is a tripping circuit breaker. This can be frustrating, especially when you’re dealing with cold winter temperatures. To make matters worse, it’s not always easy to pinpoint the cause. In this article, we’ll be discussing potential causes of a circuit breaker tripping with a space heater, and how to fix them.

A common causes of a circuit breaker tripping is a circuit overload. If you have too many appliances drawing power from the same circuit, it can cause the breaker to trip. To fix this problem, turn off all the other appliances on the same circuit and then turn your space heater back on. If the breaker stays on, you can determine that the problem was a circuit overload.

Another possible cause is a faulty wall outlet. This is especially likely if the circuit breaker trips more than once while using the same wall outlet. If this occurs, unplug the heater and inspect the outlet for any signs of damage. Look for charred areas, cracks, or other deformations. If you find any of these, you should either have the outlet repaired or replaced.

A damaged power cord can also be the source of a tripping circuit breaker. Over time, cords can become worn and frayed due to frequent use or age. Before plugging in your space heater, inspect the cord for any fraying, exposed wires, or bent prongs. If you do find any of these signs, replace the cord immediately to avoid any potential danger.

One thing many people forget to check is their space heater’s air filter. A dirty or clogged filter can cause the heater to overheat, leading to the circuit breaker being tripped. To avoid this issue, it’s important to regularly clean your filter or replace it when necessary.

A broken heating element can also cause the breaker to trip. If this is the case, you’ll have to either replace the element yourself or have a professional do it for you. If your space heater is an older model, you may need to get a custom-fitted heating element that is compatible with your specific model.

Finally, a faulty thermostat can be to blame as well. This can happen if the thermostat is set too high, causing the heater to continue running even after it has reached its maximum temperature. To test this, turn the thermostat down and turn the breaker off and on again constantly. This is another example of heat dissipation not occurring properly, and it could be tripping your breaker. To fix this, reset the thermostat settings. Unplug your appliance, wait a few seconds, and then plug it back in. If that doesn’t work, you’ll either have to calibrate it yourself, or break down and buy a new one.

Man warming his hands in front of a space heater

Be safe

Unplugging your heater and implementing any of the previous solutions should solve your problem. If it doesn’t, it’s time to check for any loose wires, or take off the back panel and do some more intensive detective work. Fingers crossed that doesn’t have to happen. To avoid future problems and prolong the life of your device, keep an eye out for signs of wear and tear and make sure all connections remain secure. Additionally, make sure that your wall socket isn’t overloaded and clean the air filter regularly. This will ensure that your space heater continues to work safely and efficiently.


Expert Tip:

Regularly check the power cord of your space heater for any signs of fraying or damage. Even then, the slightest exposure can lead to a tripping circuit breaker, and could even become a safety hazard. Make sure to replace your cord if there is any wear and tear.

Power supply


It’s also important to remember that different space heaters have varying wattage ratings. If you’ve switched to a heater with a higher wattage rating, your existing circuit might not be able to handle the increased load, leading to the breaker tripping. To prevent this from happening, make sure your device’s wattage rating is compatible with your existing wiring.

Still tripping out?

If your breaker trips even after you’ve replaced the power cord or adjusted the thermostat settings, you may want to consider having an electrician check your wiring. This is particularly important if you live in an older home and haven’t had the electrics checked for years. Having a professional inspect your wiring can help identify any problems or potential hazards before they become more serious.

Portable heaters

Portable space heaters are known to be energy-efficient and cost-effective, but they can also be dangerous if not used properly. Every year, thousands of fires are caused by space heaters, so it’s important to take the right precautions. Before using your space heater, make sure it’s placed on a flat, stable surface, away from flammable materials such as curtains, furniture, and bedding. Also, keep it away from water to avoid the risk of electrocution.

Unplug it!

Additionally, be sure to unplug your device when you’re not using it. This will reduce the chances of the circuit being overloaded and protect against short circuits or electrical shocks. It’s also essential to keep the area around your heater free of dust, dirt, and other debris. This will prevent the risks of clogged filters or overloading the motor.

Don’t leave it unattended

Always pay attention to your device when it’s in use, and never leave it unattended. If you’re leaving the room for an extended period of time, switch it off to avoid the risk of fire. Finally, be sure to check the wattage rating each year to ensure that your device is still compatible with your existing wiring.

Space heaters are a great way to keep warm during the colder months, but they can also be dangerous. To ensure your safety and get the most out of your device, make sure to take proper precautions and troubleshoot any issues if they arise. If your circuit breaker is tripping, remember to check for circuit overloads, faulty outlets, damaged cords, a clogged air filter, a broken heating element, or a faulty thermostat. With the right knowledge and care, you can avoid potential problems and keep your device running smoothly.


Well, I hope this article has given you greater insight into your space heater’s issues, and how to properly address them.
Just remember to stay safe, and contact an electrician if you need professional help.

Appliances made simple. 

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