Breakers

What is it?

A breaker is an electrical switch that is automatically operated and protects an electrical circuit from harm that may be caused by a short circuit or overload. Essentially, it detects whether there is a fault condition and to disrupt current flow. Circuit breakers can be reset, unlike a fuse, to resume their normal operation. They vary in size, from large switchgears that protect high voltage circuits that power entire cities, to small devices that protect households.

How to Change

There are times when your circuit breakers may go bad, and you will need to know how to change a circuit breaker. Luckily, with the following steps, your breaker should be back and working in no time. To start, you need to find the main circuit breaker box. Most homes will have 1 large main breaker box and several smaller boxes. They are typically located in an easily accessible utility area. Once you have found the breaker box, you need to locate the defective breaker. It will be halfway between the off and on position. Before replacing the breaker, try to reset it by unplugging all devices and turning off all lights on that circuit. Then, turn the breaker back on, and turn the devices back on one at a time. If they start working, you do not need to change the breaker. Next, use a voltage tester to see if the power is going out through the wire attached to the breaker. Turn off the breaker boxes and then the main power, which is typically a large flip switch. After that, turn off all the individual breakers. Remove the screws and the faceplate. Loosen the screws that hold the wires on the defective breaker and remove the breaker from the panel. Replace the old circuit breaker with a new one. Make sure it is the same type as the main breaker and has the same amperage. Once you have put the faceplate back on, turn on the main power, and then the individual breakers. Discard the old breaker and you are all finished!

Electrical-breakers (2)

Safety

Whenever you are working with electricity, there are several safety guidelines you need to follow. While working, you may want to have someone with you to hold a flashlight, particularly when changing out the circuit breaker. Most breakers are located in closets and basements, and it may be difficult to see what you are doing. You don’t want to make a mistake, which could be a threat to your safety. If you are unable to find the main power switch, do not remove any breakers or work on the panel. Contact a professional electrician and have them change the breaker for you. Also, do not replace a circuit breaker with one that has larger amperage, as it may cause a wiring overload, which could lead to an electrical fire. Never install a circuit breaker into a panel for which it was not designed, and, if you are unsure, consult an electrician. If you are turning a circuit breaker to the “on” position, make sure to always stand to the side of the panel. This will remove you from harms way in case a shock or jolt of electricity came out of the breaker.