“Why Does My Circuit Breaker Trip Whenever it Rains?”

2016 Jun 13
Posted in: Electrical

Everything works fine when the weather is dry. But you have a circuit breaker that trips every time it rains hard. And then when you try to reset it, it won’t reset.

What’s the deal?

Water is making contact with your electrical system somehow. If not corrected, this is a serious problem that should be taken care of as soon as possible! Electricity and water should never mix. If you need help finding and fixing the problem, contact a licensed electrician.

We’ll go over the most common problems that cause a circuit breaker to trip when it rains.

Note: Sprinklers & misting systems can also cause your breaker to trip for many of the same reasons.

But before continuing, check out our other article Why Does My Circuit Breaker Keep Tripping? to get a better understanding of how circuit breakers work and the 2 reasons they trip. 

No exterior outlet cover

All of your exterior outlets should be covered with an exterior outlet cover or outlet box.

Exterior Outlet with Cover
Exterior outlet with cover. Shown closed (left) and open (right).

If the outlets outside your home don’t have these covers, rain can make their way into the outlets, cause a short and trip your breaker. 

Note: Your exterior outlets should also be have a ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI). Learn more about GFCIs in our article How to Choose the Right Electrical Outlet for Your Home.

Bad/incorrect extension cord

Do you have extension cords laying in your yard, powering lights or something else? 

Exterior-rated Extension Cord
An exterior-rated extension cord laying in a Phoenix home’s yard.

If so, you could have one or more of the following problems:

  • Frayed extension cord—Old extension cords become frayed. When it rains, water can make its way into the cord, cause a short and trip the breaker.
  • Interior extension cord—Indoor extension cords ends aren’t made to be water-tight. So after a good rain, water can get in the cord and cause the tripping breaker.

Also, remember: extension cords should only be for temporary use (like lighting Christmas lights for a few weeks). If you find yourself using an extension cord year-round, you should consider running a new electrical line to where you need it.

Broken exterior light fixture

Most homes in the Phoenix area have some sort of outdoor light fixtures. 

Over time, these fixtures can be broken by pets, people and the elements. Landscape lights are especially vulnerable since they can be easily kicked or stepped on.

Then, when it rains, well, you know the story by now...

Roof leak

Your roof may be leaking when it rains. Water in your attic is bad news as that’s where most of your home’s wiring is. 

If your roof has many of these 9 Warning Signs of a Roof Leak, this could be your problem. You may also want to peek into your attic and look for obvious signs of moisture (like moldy insulation).

Unfortunately, this problem is difficult to find and fix and will likely require the help of a licensed roofer.

Need a Phoenix, AZ electrician?

If your breaker keeps tripping after it rains and you live in the Phoenix metro area, contact George Brazil’s electricians for help.

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