How Do You Replace A Circuit Breaker?

Posted on: 26 September 2016

Eventually, a circuit breaker is itself broken. When a electrical circuit is in danger of become overloaded, the circuit breaker will switch itself off, cutting off power to the circuit and preventing an overloading line.

Resetting a circuit breaker requires pushing the switch in the opposite direction, then pushing it back to its original position. If all is well, the breaker will snap into position with a satisfying "click" that signifies that all is well and the breaker has been reset.

However, repeated tripping of a circuit breaker will cause the mechanism to wear out, and instead of feeling the breaker click into place, you have a breaker that hovers in a wobbly center position, unable to perform its function. It must then be replaced.

What type of circuit breaker do you need?

A single circuit breaker for residential use will either control a 15 or 20 amp circuit. The amp rating of the breaker will be printed on the breaker itself with a "15" or "20" stamped on the switch. It is important to install the correct breaker for proper function.

It is also important to buy a breaker that will fit your breaker box. Look for the manufacturer's label on your breaker box and buy a breaker from the same manufacturer. If it's an old breaker box that is not longer manufactured, ask an associate in the home improvement store for an aftermarket substitute.

Removing the old breaker

You'll need both a flat head and philips head screwdriver and a flashlight. To access the breaker box, you must turn off the main breakers to the home, which will mean you will likely be working in the dark.

The main breakers may be located at the top of your breaker box or at a different location in the home.

After turning off the main breakers, use the flat head screwdriver to remove the screws that hold the cover panel of the breaker box in place. After removing the cover panel, use the flat head screwdriver to pry the breaker from its slot (pry it from the outer edge where the wire is connected).

When the breaker is out of the slot, use the philips head screwdriver to loosen the terminal screw that hold the black wire in place. Remove the black wire from the screw terminal.

Connecting the new breaker

Connect the black wire to the screw terminal on the new breaker, tightening the screw until the wire is secure. Place the inner edge (opposite the wire) of the breaker into the slot, then push in the outer edge until the breaker clicks into place.

Replace the cover panel, turn on the main breakers and the new breaker, and the job is complete.

This is a time for introspection about your use of the electric circuit that is controlled by the breaker. If the breaker trips often, the circuit is being overloaded. This may occur from a single higher powered appliance such as an air conditioner, but if it is a new phenomenon, it is likely to be caused by the overuse of power strips to accommodate the addition of various electronic gadgets to the home.

If this is the case, you'll need to add an additional circuit to help to ease the burden on the distressed circuit. Contact a company like Chadwick Electric Services for help.

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Hi all, I’m Josiah. Welcome to my site about electrician services. When I was living in a home built in the 1940s, I came across a number of troublesome wiring issues. The wiring was old and in a state of serious disrepair. When I plugged in more than three electronics on the power strip, the breaker would blow and shut down my entire system. I had the entire home rewired to rectify this problem once and for all. My site will cover all sorts of electrician upgrades and repairs. I invite you to visit often to learn about upgrades to use for your own home.

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