Double Tapped: Why Can’t I Use Multiple Electronics at the Same Time?

December 2, 2014 by Valerie Griffiths

Has this ever happened to you? You plug-in your microwave and your toaster instantly shuts off. Or your hair dryer goes on and suddenly your curling iron goes off. It’s a maddening problem, but also a common one in many households and businesses. And believe it or not, it’s a good thing! It’s called a double tapped circuit breaker and it’s how your circuit breaker tells you it’s overloaded. But hang on and I’ll tell you how to fix it.

First, I’ll explain why it happens: When two conductors are connected to a single circuit breaker, and the breaker was only designed for one wire, it’s called a double tapped circuit breaker. This is a common electrical defect but it’s important to take seriously. Overloading your circuits presents a significant safety risk for your home and family. When you overload the circuit and the power is disconnected, the circuit is being broken to prevent overheating and fire.

But let’s face it: at some point, you’re going to want to use multiple electronics in the same area at the same time. So what can be done? Sure, you can unplug an electronic or two and use it in a different outlet or area of the house. That might work as a short-term solution, but electrical safety should be a priority, so you’ll want to find a long-term fix.

A licensed electrician can take a look at your electrical wiring, map out your circuits and identify any issues. He can run new circuits if needed and help ensure that your wiring is sufficient to meet your electrical needs. He’ll also make sure outlets are properly installed, connections are safe and wiring is up to code. This goes a long way in providing peace of mind, and the convenience to plug in when and where you want.

Remember, your outlets are only equipped to handle a certain amount of electricity. Ask too much of them and you’ll overload your system, potentially putting your home or business at risk. Avoid the frustration of your appliances shutting down altogether. Work with your electrician to correct the issue, and get worry-free.