Electrical breaker installation is a job for an experienced electrician. It’s a safe and easy task for someone with the right tools and knowledge.
First, switch off the power to the breaker panel by flipping the main switch. Then remove the breaker panel cover and identify blank areas to install a new circuit breaker.
Start by shutting off the power to your breaker panel using the service disconnect or main breaker switch. Then use a voltage tester to ensure that the power is completely off before you begin any work on the breaker box. You should also cover any areas that will remain live with cardboard to prevent accidental contact.
You’ll need a pair of pliers to remove the screws in the corners of the breaker panel cover to loosen it. Carefully remove the corner screws and then slowly pull off the center screw to keep the breaker panel cover from falling.
Flip the reset lever on the breaker that you want to replace into the “Off” position. Then carefully untangle the black insulated circuit wire that’s connected to it by gripping the edge of the breaker and then pulling it out while twisting it. You’ll know that it’s untangled when the breaker is completely straight and not touching any other metal parts or wires in the panel.
Installing the Breaker
Before starting any electrical work, always make sure the power to your breaker box is turned off. You can do this by calling your electricity provider. You’ll also want to check the voltage on your circuits with a multimeter or other device. Never assume the main panel can support a new breaker; instead, use a multimeter to find out if it has room for a bigger draw.
Electric Breakers Installation has been switched off, you can remove its cover with a screwdriver. Carefully place the screws in a cup or somewhere safe so they don’t get lost.
Next, loosen the terminal screw on the back of the breaker and pull the black wire that connects to it from the hot bus bar. You should be able to pull it out without much force. This will leave you with a screw terminal attached to the breaker and a coiled white wire connected to a neutral or ground bus bar (some panels have combined neutral/ground bars). You’ll need a cable clamp for this.
If you’re unsure what type of breaker you need, open the door to your breaker panel and copy down the manufacturer’s name, the breaker box model number, and the style number of the breakers that are approved for your panel. Then go to a home center and find a circuit breaker that matches this information. You cannot use a breaker that isn’t approved for your breaker panel, even if it fits.
Insert your new breaker into the panel by lining it up with the clips on the back of the breaker panel and then pushing it forward until you hear and feel it snap into place onto the hot bus bar. Hook the neutral and ground wires to their respective terminals on the breaker, and then tuck the excess cable neatly into the empty space along the side of the panel. Finally, replace the panel cover and test the breaker by flipping it into the “On” position.
Wiring the Breaker
If you’re working with electricity, make sure it’s turned off at the main breaker panel. Always use the correct safety precautions and wear rubber gloves to mitigate electrical shock.
Remove the cover of your electrical panel and locate a vacant space where you want to install the new circuit breaker. Check that the breaker isn’t already in use and that there is plenty of room for wiring to run around it.
Each breaker has a hooked shape on one end and a set of copper contacts in the other that are covered with lubricant (usually grease). Place the breaker in the panel, lining up its hook with the metal contact, then rock it forward into place to seat it over the bus bar. Do this for each breaker you’re adding to your panel. Then, connect your wires to the breaker terminals. The black or red wire goes to the breaker’s hot terminal and the white or bare wires go to the neutral bus bar (which is also bonded to the grounding busbar for safety).
Testing the Breaker
If a breaker trips, you need to find out what is causing the problem. First, turn off everything plugged in and then remove the cover of the breaker panel (also called a fuse box). Locate the breaker and find out which circuit it protects. Some breakers have labels, others do not. Flipping a switch haphazardly can damage sensitive electronics and devices. If the breaker isn’t labeled, use a voltage tester or meter to test the current passing through it.
Multimeters are handy tools that allow you to measure volts, amps, and ohms; they also have a feature for testing continuity, resistance, and other indicators that can help you diagnose the problem with a breaker. Be sure to wear rubber gloves and safety glasses while working with electricity. If you don’t, you can electrocute yourself. Also, always use insulated tools to reduce the risk of shock and injury. A multimeter can be purchased at most hardware stores.
Resetting the Breaker
When a circuit breaker trips it cuts power to that particular room or appliances to prevent fires (Opens in new window) and possible electrocution. While you can call an electrician to make the repair, there are simple steps you can do at home to get your power back if your breaker keeps getting tripped.
Start by locating your breaker panel, which should be on the opposite side of the exterior wall that the power line runs into. Usually, it’s in a utility area such as near the water heater or washer-dryer or tucked into a closet in the garage. You’ll find a row of switches with one that looks turned off. Locate it, and flip it to the on position.
Always use the proper safety precautions when working with electricity as it’s dangerous and can kill you. If you don’t feel comfortable performing the work on your own, err on the side of caution and hire an electrician to do it for you.