When to Replace Circuit Breakers

A circuit breaker is a crucial part of the electrical circuit of every home and is an important safety component as well. Knowing when you need to replace that once circuit breaker is also a very important task and this guide will tell you exactly what steps you need to do for replacing a circuit breaker in your home’s electrical system.

Circuit breakers also known as breaker boxes are usually located in a house or apartment home’s basement or utility closet. Sometimes the panels are concealed by a small door which is painted the same as its surrounding walls in order to keep the box concealed and out of the way.

The function of a circuit breaker is simple and easy. Its job is to cut off the flow of electricity in the whole circuit in case it becomes overloaded or any short circuiting or other issues, most often due to a spike in the power supply. Without circuit breakers, all of our household items including kitchen and other working appliances will be at a major risk of being exploded due to the overloading electricity during a power surge. Circuit breaker breaks the circuit of your whole house during such power surge and emergency situation thus saving you, your family and your household appliances from major risk.

Thus circuit breakers are life savers.

Ask Yourself – Why am I Replacing This Breaker?

On the off chance that you are including a circuit, and now need to introduce the breaker, then this obviously is important. The circumstance that I keep running into a great deal is individuals needing to supplant a breaker in light of the fact that they believe that it is broken, or has fizzled, or outings off again and again. Not that breaker don’t in some cases fall flat, but rather as a general rule, the breaker is simply doing what it should do, and the issue bringing on the breaker to excursion should be redressed first.

Testing A Faulty Circuit Breaker

You need to turn off all the appliances, lights, devices and fans thus your whole electric running devices in your home and the see if the circuit breaker resets itself. If it resets with all known loads disconnected, then you can begin reconnecting devices one by one and also turn on the lights, fans etc to determine where the problem actually lies in the circuit.

Turn off the breaker before plugging the items back in and then reset because if you have a short circuit in the particular device you can get a huge shock of current which would dearly be fatal. When a short circuit occurs an extremely high amount of current could flow before the breaker trips the circuit.

Using A Voltage Tester!

If the breaker won’t reset and doesn’t put a load on the voltage terminal, use a reliable voltage test or meter to check. Even when all the known loads are disconnected then you have a faulty breaker and it needs to be changed instantly to avoid any life or economy risks.

You need to gather all the proper information regarding that faulty breaker including the brand name, part breaker, breaker number, breaker size etc so that you can purchase the right type of breaker to be replaced with the faulty one.


Most homes usually the modern ones have a combination panel with a main circuit breaker and all the branch circuit breakers below it.

Note that even after removing the panel cover you don’t really have access to the main breaker compartment without removing the main breaker cover as well. Don’t open this cover because you can’t handle it. If it seems like there’s a problem in the main breaker panel, you need to call an experienced and professional electrician to handle it because it’s not for someone unprofessional.

In Older homes you have a fuse disconnect switch to disconnect power from the distribution panel that will isolate the breaker box allowing you to replace the branch circuit breakers safely.

For instance, try to arrange a backup light source. It can be anything like a small batter torch or an emergency light just to lit up the path of branch breakers for you.

Step One

Before shutting off the main breaker, shut off all the branch breakers first. It’s always good to remove the load from a breaker before shutting it off. With the main breaker shut off the buss bars to which the branch breakers are connected isolate from the incoming voltage and now will be safe to work on.

Never just assume that the breaker is off, check for voltage on any two adjacent breakers to assure that the panel is dead.

Most homes have push in or stab in type breakers. In some cases usually the commercial ones, the breakers bolt into place on the buss bars.

Step Two

Begin by cutting of the wire from load terminal of the breaker and pull the wire out of the circuit to facilitate the removal of breaker and stoppage of voltage.

Step Three

Carefully pry the faulty breaker out of its position as shown here. Note how the breakers lock in the position into the panel. In case of a cutler hammer, the back of the breaker pushes back into a mounting strip first and then onto a buss bar.

Re-insert the newly purchased breaker and push firmly into the position. Then, re attach the wire into the load terminal.

While you have the branch circuit compartment open, inspect for any other issues in the circuit or with any other branch breakers like loose terminals and it’s a great idea to tighten all connections before finishing your work.

Step Four

Now, you need to put the panel cover back onto the branch and main circuit breaker system. If you have installed a breaker for a new circuit in a new position, you will have to remove appropriate breaker knock out from panel cover.

After the cover is back on, it will be a great idea to shut off all the branch circuit breakers, then turn on the main breaker and then one by one start turning on the branch breakers as well. Then check and test all the breakers, appliances and circuits to see whether everything is working properly or not.

Precautionary Measures to Take While Replacing Circuit Breakers

Replacing circuit breakers is easy but it can get too dangerous for you, your family and all of the household appliances working in your house if you don’t take proper precautionary measures before beginning your work.

Don’t even forget to turn off the main electrical system of your house before opening the panel of main or branch breakers, simply opening the panel with electrical system on won’t do any damage but care is better than cure.

Also, wear some rubber sleepers or shoes so that even if you get an electrical shock while working, the earthing system installed in your house could save you from a lot of trouble.

Before beginning to replace the circuit breaker you need to make sure that you have proper knowledge about the work you are going to do. Also check some cautionary guides or whatever. If you are not sure that you can do it safely, it would be better to call a professional electrician to replace the faulty circuit breaker for you because risking your life is not worthy in any case.


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