How to Replace a 20 Amp GE Breaker

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How to Replace a 20 Amp GE Breaker. The circuit breaker panel in the home is usually the one place most homeowners don't venture very often. In fact, if it were not for the occasional hair dryer or vacuum cleaner tripping a breaker, you would probably have a hard time remembering where it is located.

But there may come a time when you discover that re-setting that tripped breaker will not fix the issue. As well as circuit breakers are made, they aren't made to last forever. At that point, you will have two options to choose from-you can hire an electrician to come to your home and charge you an outrageous amount of money for a small job-or you can replace the breaker yourself for the cost of the breaker and about a half an hour.

Understandably, many of you would feel nervous about working on an electrical panel, and this tutorial is not for everybody, but if you are mechanically inclined, it will not be a problem for you. As with any electrical job, it just takes patience, common sense and a careful hand. Here is how to replace a 20 amp GE breaker.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver
  • Electrical tape
  • Flashlight

Whenever you work on your home's electric, you must always use extreme caution and you must always respect the electricity. You have to be careful and do not try to rush through the job. If you do not feel that you can have that kind of outlook toward the job, then without a doubt, call a professional.

You can limit your chance of danger by turning the main breaker OFF. This will cut all the power to your home, so have a flashlight on hand and hopefully someone to hold it for you while you work.

The first thing you will need to do is remove the circuit panel's cover. Depending on the style of cover, this can be done a number of ways. The most popular GE panel in use in homes is the type with four screws holding the cover in place.

Open the door on the cover and you will see the four screws. It is important to hold the cover in place while you are removing the screws. If you do not have someone to lend you a hand, you may find it difficult to manage removing the screws while making sure the panel cover does not fall, but it can be done if you take your time.

With the screws removed, gently pull the cover out and away from the circuit panel and set it down gently.

Next, find the breaker that is broken and switch it OFF. Even if it is tripped, turn it OFF.

Whenever you are working in an electrical panel, I find it best to insulate your screwdriver as well as possible. You can do this by tightly wrapping electrical tape over the shaft of the screwdriver. Wrap it all the way from the handle to about 1/4 inch from the tip of the screwdriver.

Now, carefully find the wire that is connected to the bad breaker. Pay attention here, because it can be easy to get the wires confused. Once you find the wire, and you are sure the breaker is OFF, use the screwdriver to loosen the screw holding the wire in place on the breaker.

The screw is on the side of the breaker farthest from the middle of the panel (depending on whether the breaker is on the left or right). Loosen the screw and pull out the wire. Bend the wire out of your way.

Newer GE breakers do not get screwed into the buss of the panel, so they are one of the easier breakers to replace. Grab the bad breaker with your hand, being very careful, and pull it out and toward the center of the panel.

GE breakers use a tongue and groove style connection that enables the breaker to be pulled out. On the inside, near the center of the panel, the breaker is held by a "hook." Once you get the outside part of the GE breaker released, you can just slide it out of the hook and remove it.

Take a look at the new GE breaker to get a handle on how it is installed before you try. Do you see where the hook gets inserted and where the metal clips slide over in the panel? Good, you are almost done!

Before you install, make sure that the toggle on the new breaker is OFF.

Slide the hook of the GE breaker into place first, then gently push the breaker in place. You will feel it lock into place securely as the clips slide over the "knife."

With the breaker installed, but still OFF, loosen the screw that will be holding the wire in place.

Insert the wire into the wire holder and tighten the screw down. Tighten it securely, but be careful not to over-tighten.

Before you turn the breaker on, it is wise to reinstall the circuit panel's cover.

With everything secure, flip the toggle on the breaker to ON. That's all there is to it!

Note: If you turned the main breaker off originally, make sure you turn ALL of the breakers OFF before turning the main one back on. Once you turn the main breaker back on, then start turning the other GE breakers back on, one at a time.

Tips & Warnings

  • Clean up the area around your circuit panel before you work on it, so you have an open and clean work space.
  • When removing the screws that are holding the cover in place, store them in a shirt pocket, so you do not lose them.
  • Use extreme caution when working on electric at all times.
  • Avoid working on your panel in extremely hot or humid weather where you will be sweating a lot.
  • Avoid working on your electric if it is in a wet location.

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