Why Does My Sauna Keep Shutting Off or Tripping? (Plus What To Do!)

A sauna is supposed to be a relaxing and soothing experience, but some people report that theirs trips off erratically. If this sounds like the problem you’re having, maybe we can help – and you can get back to enjoying your sauna as it was meant to be!

Most of the time, a sauna will shut off if the circuit is overloaded and it’s drawing too much power. This will also happen if the breaker itself is damaged. Depending on the issue, the breaker may need replaced by either a new one, or the sauna will need to be rewired to match the amount of power required for it to operate properly.

This is a common problem that is usually caused from either a bad breaker or an overloaded circuit. If you’re not sure which it could be, there are some quick tests you can do to figure this out. Read on to find what your sauna may need in the first place, or if you’re currently having an issue with your sauna that needs resolved.

Why does my sauna keep tripping the breaker?

The most common reason for any breaker tripping is a circuit overload, which just means that there are too many devices plugged in at once, which can draw more power than the breaker can handle. In this case, you may need to simply unplug other devices while the sauna is in use.

Sometimes it could be caused by a short circuit, which is due to faulty wiring either in the sauna or an electrical component in the building. But, more often, it would be because of excessive use of power or even failure of the breaker itself.

Is it dangerous if a circuit breaker keeps tripping?

The ability for a circuit breaker to trip is a safety feature. So, when the breaker itself trips, that in itself is not dangerous. 

However, the reason for a breaker to trip could potentially be dangerous. Most often, a breaker can trip when it detects excessive electricity. There are multiple reasons why this may happen.  

A breaker that trips due to excessive use of power could be caused by something relatively innocuous, such as plugging in too many devices at once. But, it could also be caused by surges in electricity that occur beyond with a single device would normally use.

In this case, it could be dangerous if the resulting power surge is due to a lack of insulation around the wires. Sometimes this happens if excessive heat causes them to melt. This type of electrical problem is very dangerous, because it could cause a fire.

Does a sauna require a GFCI breaker?

The short answer is yes.

Any room or device in which water is in close proximity to electricity is going to need a GFCI, or ground fault circuit interrupter breaker. So, this would include saunas. Even in dry saunas, water is likely to come into contact with electrical components at some point – whether it be on the hot stones, or during a deep cleaning. 

Not only is it a good idea to have one, but the National Electrical Code requires it and specifically states that a GFCI must be present around spa type areas. So, what does a GFCI do? It detects any sort of abnormal occurrence in the flow of electricity, and shuts off within 1/10th of a second.

There are many sources that recommend the opposite – while it may be true that it is much more convenient to not have to worry about your GFCI breaker tripping, there is a reason that it does so. Although your sauna may “function” better by shutting off less, it is much less safe to use a non-GFCI breaker.

How do you change a breaker that keeps tripping?

The best way to ensure that the breaker is changed out safely and correctly is by consulting with a professional, but if you must do it yourself, this is how it would be done:

  • Check the breaker box for any signs of damage, discoloration, rust, or any sort of abnormality. If you see that something is off in the breaker box, consult an electrician instead of trying to do it yourself.
  • Check the brand. The safety of the names Zinsco, Federal Pacific Electric, Kearney, GTE Sylvania, Federal Pioneer, and Stab-lok is debatable. If your circuit breaker bears any of the listed names, it’s best to call an electrician to help.
  • Make sure you have the right equipment. Any tools or accessories such as gloves and boots should have a rubber coating to insulate against any potential electrical shocks.
  • Check to see if the breaker is actually broken, or just overloaded. You would do this by unplugging all but one device connected to the circuit. If the breaked trips when there’s no way it could be overloaded, then it needs replaced.
  • Turn off the main power, but never assume that it’s completely safe.
  • Unscrew and remove the faceplate. Inspect the inside for anything unusual, and consult an electrician if that is the case.
  • Remove the faulty breaker, disconnect the wires.
  • Ensure that the new breaker has the same specifications.
  • Clip the new breaker into place, and reconnect the wires.
  • Reattach the faceplate, and test the new breaker.
  • If you are unsuccessful and unsure of what went wrong, it’s best to involve a professional at that point.

Why does my sauna keep shutting off?

The main reason your sauna shuts off on its own is due to preexisting safety features. Most saunas have an upper limit in temperature, and if that limit is reached, it is designed to automatically shut off. If this is the case, see if you can adjust the temperature to a higher point.

Check to see if your sauna is on a timer. Sometimes it’s just that simple. Other reasons could be a loss of power in some way, whether it be with a breaker tripping or disconnected wires. Check to see if the amount of power that the sauna takes matches the power meant to flow through the breaker. If the sauna uses more electricity than the breaker can handle, it isn’t going to work.

How to reset a sauna heater

Most sauna heaters have a reset button on the front toward the bottom. Press the button and it will reset. Different brands may have slight but important differences, so be sure to check the manual just in case.

What is the high limit switch on a sauna?

It is a safety component that shuts the heater off in case it gets too hot. It is often the culprit of a sauna shutting off on its own if the breaker isn’t at fault. Sometimes it may be a bit of an annoyance, but it is much better than the alternative situation of a sauna overheating without any safety features in place.

When to replace the heating element

How often the heating element needs replaced will depend upon how well it is maintained. You’ll be able to go a lot longer without replacing the element if you inspect and re-seat the rocks every 2-3 months.

Aside from that, as long as the heater is working okay, it only needs to be replaced if there are broken or melted parts. Be sure to keep the heater will-maintained by caring for the rocks and keeping it clear of debris. If the rocks are not regularly inspected and moved around, they can gather moisture which can cause rust damage to the heater.

What are the electrical needs of a home sauna

Most classic saunas will need to be hard-wired to the electricity box.

The average sauna will need 220v to function, and either a 10/2 wire or an 8/2 wire, depending on how far from the breaker box it is. Some of the more powerful saunas will require a 40-amp breaker along with an 8/2 wire. 

But, infrared saunas tend to use less power and will only need 15-20 amps if they are made for just a couple of people. Most home operated saunas will cost $20 or less per month in electricity.

Although the electrical needs of home saunas tend to be relatively straightforward, be sure to consult a trained professional when it comes to installing the electrical components. This will ensure that the safest possible measures are taken, and can help avoid issues in the future.

Do you need a special outlet for a sauna?

It depends on the type of sauna. Some saunas, especially infrared saunas, can operate just fine plugged into a regular outlet. It is advisable for the outlet to be closer to the roof line than the floor, that way the sauna can be placed flush with the wall.

Other saunas will need to be hard-wired to the electricity box, especially if they need 40 or more amps. It will need a dedicated circuit, which is the best way to ensure that it doesn’t draw too much power and trip the breaker.

Does a sauna use a lot of electricity?

Most saunas, used at an average pace (1 hour per day) cost an average of $0.26 per hour, or around $5.00 per week. Larger saunas may cost $1.00 or so more per week, and smaller saunas are even less. The average home sauna takes about 3 kW.