How to Replace a Circuit Breaker

July 8, 2021 10:57 pm Published by Leave your thoughts

If your circuit breakers trip repeatedly, it may be a sign that there’s a problem with the wiring. Short circuits and ground fault problems can cause your circuits to repeatedly trip. It may also be due to overloading the circuit. (If you have two power strips plugged into a single outlet, try unplugging some items.) Lightning and water damage also cause this kind of problem. However, some circuit breakers can simply wear out over time.

If you’re handy with repairs, you can attempt your own circuit breaker repair. While it’s always advisable to leave the electrical work to the pros, this one is simple enough that many DIY-inclined homeowners can handle it.

A word of caution

Repairing your circuit breakers involves opening the main panel and removing the safety cover. There is a high risk of electric shock when you perform these repairs, especially if you don’t know what you’re doing. While replacing a circuit breaker is often a simple job, it does come with serious risks. In most cases, it’s best to have an electrician come do the job instead.

AFCI circuits

AFCI stands for “arc fault circuit interrupter.” Since 1999, the National Electrical Code has mandated that residential circuits include AFCIs. Generally, this means that when an old circuit fails, your electrician will replace it with an AFCI breaker. If you want your home to be up to code, you’ll need to install an AFCI circuit breaker. Keep in mind that they have different installation processes than traditional breakers. Make sure you know exactly what you’re working with before attempting the repair.

How to replace your circuit breaker

Here’s an overview of how to replace a circuit breaker—call an electrician to ensure the highest quality of service:

  • Understand the type of breaker you have: No matter what kind of circuit panel you have, you need to replace breakers with the same brand and type as the ones used before. Never replace a breaker with a different brand—even if they look the same, there may be differences that will interfere with your electrical system.
  • Turn off the main power supply: Next, go to your electrical panel and flip the main circuit breaker switch to the OFF position. You’ll now need a flashlight to help illuminate the rest of your repairs. Do not touch any bare incoming service wires or lugs—they’ll still carry voltage from the power company.
  • Remove the cover plate: Next, unscrew the breaker cover plate, being very careful not to tip the cover into the panel.
  • Remove the old breaker: Now you can remove the old breaker. Flip it to the OFF position, then snap the old breaker free. If there are wires attached, gently remove them with your screwdriver.
  • Install new breakers: Next, reattach the new wires to the breaker as the manufacturer’s instructions indicate. Snap the breaker into the control panel, replace the cover, turn the breaker on and switch on your main power supply.

As you can see, circuit breaker repair is easy enough—but it can come with some major risks. If you’d rather leave it to us, call Eavenson Electric Co. today to schedule a service appointment.

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