How to Take a Circuit Breaker Out of an Electrical Box

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There are many reasons why you might need to remove a breaker--the breaker has gone bad, you might need to change it to a specific style or you just don't need that circuit any longer. Taking a circuit breaker out of an electrical box is not something you will do everyday, but it doesn't have to be a hard job; remember to practice caution in order to stay safe.

Things You'll Need

  • Safety goggles
  • Screw driver
  • Red wire connector
  • Electrical tape
  • Snap in filler plate
  • Turn off the main electrical panel by turning off the main breaker at the top of the panel. (The main breaker will separated from the rest of the breakers in the panel. Main breakers are sized anywhere from 100 amps and up.)

  • Remove the exterior cover of your breaker panel. Removing the cover will vary for each breaker panel depending on the manufacturer and whether it is flush mounted or surface mounted. (Surface mount breaker panels are mounted to the wall of a structure and the exterior cover is normally removed by lifting up the door of the panel and removing the screw at the bottom of the exterior cover. Flush mount breaker panels are mounted inside a structure's wall and removing the exterior cover is as simple as removing the screws from the corners of the exterior panel.)

  • Disconnect the wire from the breaker you are removing. The wire will be attached at the rear of the breaker beneath a screw; turn the screw counterclockwise to loosen it and pull the wire from beneath it.

  • Cap off the wire you removed from the breaker. Use a wire connector that is approximately sized to your wire--a red wire connector will accommodate wire gauge sizes from 18 to 10 and is a good choice to cap off your wire. Twist the wire connector clockwise onto the wire, then secure it to the wire by wrapping it in electrical tape.

  • Grab the breaker with your hand and pull straight out from the panel box. If necessary, wiggle the breaker slightly as you are pulling to work it off the center buss bar.

  • Replace the exterior cover of your breaker panel and insert a snap in filler plate to the open knockout that was previously occupied by the breaker you removed.

  • Turn the main breaker to the on position.

Tips & Warnings

  • If you are unaware of how your breaker installs into your panel, visit your favorite home improvement warehouse and ask one of the electrical department employees; they should be able to instruct you or direct you to your panel's manufacturer.
  • Always make sure the electricity is off to the area you are working in to avoid electrical shock.

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