Why Does My Furnace Have Two Breakers?


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Furnaces have circuit breakers as an important safety precaution. They can prevent extra electricity from surging through the furnace, which protects your home from any electrical incidents along the lines of sparks and outages. 

A furnace can have two breakers when there is a large amount of electricity inside of it. This prevents the furnace from overpowering itself, which could cause serious problems or cause it to give out. 

The remainder of this article will further explain the main question and answer similar questions, including if both breakers should be on at all times. I will also delve further into exactly what circuit breakers do and why they’re important. 

What’s the Purpose of Two Breakers?

As aforementioned, a furnace will typically have two breakers if it contains too much energy for the exact purpose of just one breaker. For example, imagine a group of students is going on a field trip. One bus is much too cramped for the entire group, so they split into two buses. 

This would prevent any major damage if any accidents were to happen. It’s the same case with electricity and breakers! Just imagine the electricity as the students and the breakers as the buses. 

Should Both Breakers Be On at All Times?

Let’s say, for example, your furnace works perfectly fine with just one breaker activated. It might seem more energy-efficient to leave one breaker on at all times, but that is not the case.

The activated breaker handles the controls and the thermostat while the other breaker is doing its best to keep the heating elements going. It’s truly not energy-efficient to keep one breaker on at all times. The only way it can save energy is if you have the furnace cycling on and off.

So ideally, both breakers should stay on at all times.

What Exactly Does a Circuit Breaker Do?

A circuit breaker’s main purpose is to stop any extra energy. If it does find extra electricity, it will “trip,” or in other words, it will shut down.

For example, if a bus driver needs to stop along the way to the field trip, that will put the students’ travel to a halt. It’s the same case with circuit breakers. If the circuit breaker trips, it puts the energy’s travel to a halt. 

What Causes a Trip?

The main three causes of a trip are overloaded circuits, short circuits, and ground faults. 

Overloaded Circuit

An overloaded circuit happens when two things on the same line are taking up too much energy. For example, in your bedroom, you might have your laptop charger plugged into the same outlet as your phone charger. These things don’t take up as much energy, so they would not cause an overloaded circuit. However, let’s say you have a hairdryer on the same line as a fan. This could certainly cause an overloaded circuit.

Let’s use the bus example. There are a few kids in the back of the bus that is taking up too much space. They start to cause a ruckus, and the bus starts to shake a bit. Now all of the kids on the bus are upset. To prevent any accidents from happening, the bus driver pulls over.

It’s the same for circuit breakers; instead of the bus driver pulling over, the circuit breaker trips. This prevents any accidents from happening.

Short Circuit

A short circuit happens when extra electricity is pulled due to a wiring issue. For example, let’s say your refrigerator’s plug is slightly pulled out of the outlet. Due to its displacement, it would pull more electricity and cause a short circuit. This can cause sparks as well.

For example, let’s say the bus driver leaves the door open and starts driving. One kid almost falls out and hurts himself, so he pulls onto the chair to gain his balance. Everyone else freaks out and hangs on tight to their seats. To keep the kids from freaking out any further, the bus driver pulls over. 

That is yet again the same case for circuit breakers. 

Ground Fault

Ground faults happen in areas with high moisture, such as bathrooms. Let’s say you have your Bluetooth speaker plugged in while you’re showering, and the speaker is too close to the shower. 

The moisture would affect the speaker’s performance and cause an array of problems.

With the bus example again, let’s say a kid spills water. Another kid could end up slipping, which could cause an accident. In this case, the bus driver pulls over again. This allows time to clean up the moisture and get things rolling again.

So essentially, think of a trip as a bus driver pulling over. Once the moisture is “cleaned up,” there is no need to trip any longer. 

So How Does It Work?

Have you ever wondered what those little switches were on the electrical control panel in your home? Some people think it’s just a simple on-and-off switch. However, it’s much more than that. Each one is specially designed to turn itself off if there is more energy than it can handle.

In case you need to find a circuit breaker, you can purchase the Klein Tools Circuit Breaker Finder on Amazon.com. You plug the outlet tester into an outlet, and the main tool will correctly find the corresponding circuit breaker. As one of Amazon’s bestsellers, you really can’t go wrong with it. 

Do Circuit Breakers Really Matter?

Without circuit breakers, electricity would be able to reach higher levels than necessary. This could lead to sparks, power outages, fires, and even explosions in the worst cases. So really, circuit breakers are essential.

Let’s use the bus example again. The group of students doesn’t have a breaker, AKA a bus. How do they get to their destination? They walk. By free-roaming, they could get seriously hurt. They could get robbed, kidnapped, run over, and more.

It’s the same case with circuit breakers. Without a circuit breaker, the energy is free to roam, which could cause some serious problems. You wouldn’t let your kids roam free like that, so why let the energy do the same?

Final Thoughts

A circuit breaker’s purpose is to keep energy from overflowing and causing problems. So, if your furnace has two breakers, that is because it has more energy or electricity. While circuit breakers may look like tiny little switches, they are much more complex and important.

Be sure to check out the Amazon product if you are interested in checking your circuit breakers. This could help prevent anything from being mislabeled. Also, it will help you in the long run in the event of a trip. 

Jake Alexander

Jake is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania who enjoys writing about science and sports. When he's not writing for Temperature Master, he can be found watching the NFL or playing basketball with his friends.

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