How To Check The Circuit Breaker Panel And Change A Breaker If Needed

20 March 2015
 Categories: , Blog


As you go about your daily activities at home, you expect certain things to work all the time. This is why you might be a little shocked when one of your outlets or a light switch on the wall doesn't work. If you are experiencing this for the first time, you'll need to locate and repair the problem, if the problem is fixable in a do-it-yourself manner. This guide explains how to test the circuit breakers and replace them if needed.

Step 1: Grab a Couple Tools

To change out a bad breaker in the circuit panel, you'll need to look to see if the screws holding the breakers in are standard or Phillips. Then grab the right screwdriver and purchase a multimeter. You can pick up a multimeter at the home improvement store. Ask the associate which one is best. Instructions for use come with the unit and you'll need it to test the breakers.

Step 2: Make Sure All Breakers Are On

Check to see if all the breakers are in the "on" position. If one or more are in the "off" position, flip them back to the proper spot. Caution: If the breaker trips (turns to the off position) immediately, call an electrician and do not perform any other steps. Immediate tripping indicates a problem within the panel itself that only an electrician can diagnose and repair. If the breaker is in the "on" position but the outlets or switches still do not work in the room it's assigned to, then you'll need to test the breaker.

Step 3: Test the Breakers Individually

Set the multimeter to "Volts AC" and place one prong on the screw in the breaker and place the other prong on the ground, or neutral bus in the box. This is the long thin bar on each side of the breakers where the white wires are attached. If the breaker is good, the multimeter will provide an indication that power is flowing to the breaker. Call an electrician like B Electric Inc so they can determine why the power is not getting from the electrical panel to the room. If there is no electricity flowing, the breaker needs replaced.

Step 4: Turn Off the Main Power and Change the Breaker

Go to the home improvement store and purchase a breaker that has the same amperage as the one that's bad. At the top of the circuit breaker box is a large switch or handle. Use this to turn off the power to the home. At this point, no electricity should be flowing to the circuit breakers.

Unscrew the breaker that the multimeter indicated was bad. Set the screws aside and pull out the breaker gently until the wires are exposed. Untwist the wires connecting the breaker to the power supply.

Twist the wires on the new breaker to the wires in the panel and screw the breaker into place. Turn the home's power back on and test the breaker again.

Always make sure the electricity is off when dealing with the circuit breaker box. Call your electrician if you have any problems with these instructions, or if the new breaker does not work.