Defeated Circuit Breaker


Thread Starter

Kevin Frechette

Is it possible to defeat a circuit breaker?

During commissioining of new equipment we found several circuit breakers in a lighting panel with plastic lockouts installed. Some of these had a zip tie through the locking hole with the breaker in the ON position. This was effectively locking the ON position.

Is it possible to prevent a breaker from tripping by holding the switch in the ON position?

Note: this condition is abnormal and violates our internal safety practices. We use a safety lock to lock circuits OFF.
What kind of circuit breakers are they? In my experience most circuit breakers will have a "trip" position where the handle basically goes to an intermediate position. If you attempt to switch it back on without going to the off position you wont be able to. It will move there but wont click in. So for most circuit breakers I've dealt with "locking" the breaker in the on position will simply make it so that you can't reset the breaker if it trips but it wont reset on its' own.

Bob Peterson

This is common place. The CB is typically trip free so it will trip regardless of whether the handle is tie wrapped or not. It just cannot be opened manually, which is not a safety hazard and is a perfectly reasonable thing to do with some circuits.


Curt Wuollet

Just about everything I've seen for decades is "trip free", but it does make one wonder, especially in the case of multipole where the lever motion is used to trip any non faulted poles.