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How to Replace a Circuit Breaker

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When to Replace a Circuit Breaker

Occasionally a circuit breaker will wear out and need to be replaced. Some symptoms include a breaker that trips too easily, a breaker that cannot be reset or a breaker that does not trip when it should. Other causes can also lead to these symptoms and must be ruled out before replacing a breaker.

At times you may need to add an additional circuit breaker to protect a new circuit. Examples include the addition of a new electrical appliance such as a dryer, range, water heater or air conditioner. Remodeling or an addition to your home also may require the addition of more circuits.

What an Electrician Will Do

When replacing a circuit breaker, an electrician will determine the proper rating and connection type for the replacement part. They may also need to obtain a permit for the repair. When the electrician is ready to make the replacement they will turn off the power at a main cutoff, if one exists. Often the breaker is in the main service panel and so there is no way to cut power to the panel. This means they will be working with live current and exposed electrified conductors. This is dangerous work and requires caution and appropriate safeguards. They will remove the cover panel and remove the old breaker. It may be secured with a fastener and it may snap or lift out. The new breaker will go in the same way and the panel cover is replaced.

When adding a circuit, all of the steps above will be taken and in addition the electrician must determine if the electrical supply to the service panel is adequate to support the additional load. Furthermore, they must determine if the existing service panel has the physical capacity to add a circuit breaker. Finally, they will bring the wires for the new circuit into the panel and connect them to the appropriate busses and to the new circuit breaker. This information is for a general understanding of what is involved and should not be construed as complete and detailed for undertaking this project.

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