There is never a reason to autoreclose an electrical circuit breaker following a trip unless there is reason to believe that the fault is no longer present on the circuit. Historically, when distribution circuit breakers would trip and result in a circuit outage, the circuit was patrolled before the circuit breaker was closed.
This practice delayed restoration. Records were kept of these events. It was discovered that for 85–90% of the occurrences, no permanent faults were found.
It generally became accepted to autoreclose these distribution circuit breakers. With the advent of additional protective devices available to the distribution engineer such as fuses, sectionalizers, and reclosers with which coordination was necessary, multiple autoreclose attempts were chosen.
In many areas, three autoreclose attempts were chosen. This results in four trips to lockout. This practice continued for several years.
As time went on, load increased and it became necessary that distribution source transformer size increased as well as the number of supplied feeders. It is known that when transformers are subjected to any fault on the secondary that the transformer windings are stressed.
If the transformer was not designed for the exposure that is encountered in distribution operation, it is possible that autoreclosing into a fault that would allow the transformer to contribute its maximum available short circuit current could result in deformation of the windings and subsequent arc damage to the transformer core and mounting structure.
Often, repeated occurrences of these stress levels resulted in transformer failure. The practice of some utilities is to block autoreclosing for close-in faults or for faults with a fault current magnitude in excess of the transformer design capability, in an effort to mitigate the cumulative effect of these severe faults.