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How to Replace a Circuit Breaker

Do you need to know how to replace a circuit breaker? You came to the right place.

So, maybe you’ve been having problems with your electricity and, while you would like to just call an electrician, you want to save a little green by dealing with it yourself. After cautiously fiddling with what you know and doing some tests, you’ve realized that you have a faulty circuit breaker. Now, you have to replace it, but you’re not exactly sure how

More often than not, circuit breakers don’t need to be replaced. But, if the breaker malfunctions or just simply breaks, then it’s time to replace it. Lucky for you, it doesn’t have to be an agonizing, dangerous project if done properly and carefully.

What to do First When Replacing a Breaker

First off, you should get to know how the circuit breaker system in your household. In most homes, there is a main circuit breaker with several branch circuit breakers connecting to different sections of the house, usually different rooms.

To replace a circuit breaker, turn of all the branch circuit breakers, then the main breaker. Once they are all off, test the voltage on the adjacent breakers to be sure everything is dead. When they are well and truly off, remove the panel cover so you have access to all the branch breakers. You won’t have access to the main breaker, as you would have to remove another panel to get to it. Do not try to remove this second panel, as it should only be done by a certified electrician; you don’t want to find yourself neck-deep in a drastic mistake.

Once you have removed the panel, disconnect the wire from the circuit breaker you mean to replace. Pull the wire out of the way and carefully remove the faulty breaker. Be sure to observe how the breaker is placed and locked into position in the panel so you can properly install the new breaker. Most likely, placing the breaker in an upside down or sideways position will not work.

After you’ve replaced the breaker, check the other circuit breakers to ensure they are installed correctly and tighten any loose parts. Put the cover back on the panel and double check to make sure all the switches are off. After the cover is properly placed, turn on the main breaker and then flip each branch circuit breaker individually. Watch to make sure they are working properly and stay in a set position.

If the replacement is working as it should, then you’re done and ready to go. But if the problem persists, then you may have a different problem altogether. In that case, you should look at the devices closely associated with the breaker or call an electrician. If you can manage it, calling an electrician is the best choice in any situation involving electricity
multimeterHow to Test a Circuit Breaker

To test a circuit breaker, you’ll need a multimeter. It may be best to turn off or unplug any electrical items in the area the breaker is connected to as to prevent a power surge. Also, check to make sure the switch for the breaker is on and stays on. If the breaker trips after a few seconds, there could be a wiring problem.

If the breaker stays set in the on position, then you can easily test the breaker. Touch one of the mulitmeter’s prongs to the terminal screw and then touch the other to the ground screw. If there is no voltage indicated on the readout of the multimeter, then you have a faulty breaker and need to replace it.

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