Replacing a Circuit Breaker

by Lee Wyatt
(last updated August 24, 2015)

Circuit breakers have one purpose and one purpose only: To interrupt electrical currents in your home when there is a sudden surge in the electrical lines. This safety feature is necessary to help protect your wiring, and therefore the costly electrical equipment in your home, like your television or computer. It also helps to prevent fires that could be caused by overheated electrical lines.

Before replacing a circuit breaker you need to determine whether or not the circuit breaker actually needs replacing—it could just be tripped. To check this out, take a look at the breaker box, which is usually located in a basement, laundry room, or utility room. Locate the breaker that is giving you problems. Firmly move the breaker switch towards the off position to reset it, then over to the on position. If it trips again immediately, then you probably have a bad circuit breaker that needs to be replaced.

Write down any identifying information about the problem breaker. If it has a manufacturer's name on it or any numbers, jot them down on a piece of paper and head off to your local hardware or home improvement store. Use the information to find a matching replacement breaker and then take it home. Here's how you then proceed:

  1. Turn off the power to the breaker box, which probably means turning off the power to the whole house. This is a prudent safety precaution.
  2. Carefully remove the cover from the breaker box by unscrewing the faceplate.
  3. Pay close attention to the wires that feed into the breaker and where they are at. If you don't remember this, then you may end up reconnecting them in the wrong position, which would not be good at all. (In fact, you might want to take a picture of the breaker and wires so you can refer back to the picture, if need be.)
  4. Loosen the screws holding down the white wire first, but only enough to get the wire out. Put a wire nut on the end of the wire, and bend it out of your way. Then repeat this with the other, colored wire.
  5. Remove the old, bad circuit breaker and replace it with the new one. Make sure that the breaker is firmly seated in the breaker box.
  6. Reconnect the wires to the new breaker as they had been connected to the old. (This is where you can refer to the photo you took in step 3, if desired.) Make the connections in the reverse order that you removed them—colored one first, then the white.
  7. Replace the covering plate for the breaker box.
  8. Turn on the power to the breaker box.

If the same breaker trips again, then you have a more serious problem. In such a case, it is a good idea to immediately call an electrician. You might have a short in your wiring, which could be dangerous and cause a fire or other type of damage to your home.

Author Bio

Lee Wyatt

Contributor of numerous Tips.Net articles, Lee Wyatt is quickly becoming a regular "Jack of all trades." He is currently an independent contractor specializing in writing and editing. Contact him today for all of your writing and editing needs! Click here to contact. ...

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