A short circuit is caused when the 'hot' wire comes in contact with a grounded wire or surface. This allows the electricity to take a 'short-cut'. The problem is that this short-cut will be taken by a extremely high amount of electricity thus overloading the wire. The heat and sparking is a fire hazard which the circuit breaker avoids by shutting itself off.
Helpful Hint: At first, you can't tell whether a breaker has tripped from an overloaded circuit or a short-circuit. Resetting a circuit breaker often has a trick to it that most people do not know.
A tripped circuit breaker often doesn't look any different than the other breakers. This is why we often tell customers to go through all the individual breakers (not the main breaker), turn each one off and then click it back to the 'On' position.
To reset a tripped breaker, many brands require first that you 'click' the breaker to the off position before turning it back on.
Important: If you reset the breaker and hear a loud hum and/or it shuts itself off right away, you probably have a short-circuit. Call us to locate and repair the problem. We can usually tell you beforehand what is involved and what it will cost.