How to Map Circuit Breakers

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Knowing which breakers operate the circuits in your home can help speed up any new electrical installation, as well as help troubleshoot any electrical issues. Some electrical codes require that all the breakers in your panel be labeled with what they power. If you currently are unaware of what breaker controls what circuit in your home, be prepared to spend an afternoon with a partner and map out your circuits throughout your residence.

Things You'll Need

  • Masking tape
  • Cell phones
  • Walkie-talkies
  • Turn on all the lights in your home. Plug in and turn on radios, lamps and table fans. Place as many items onto the circuits as you can and turn them on. You need to plug items into as many receptacles in your home as possible.

  • Open the microwave to turn on the light and start your dishwasher and your washing machine.

  • Draw a diagram of your home and mark where all your lights, receptacles and appliances are located. Run a piece of masking tape down the right and the left side of your breaker panel next to the breakers and assign each one a number.

  • Start turning off the breakers, one at a time, so that you may identify the circuits with a partner. Using some form of communication, such as a cell phone or walkie-talkie, have a partner relay to you what areas lose power when you turn off the breaker. Note the areas that lost power by labeling them with the breaker number on your diagram. Repeat this for each circuit breaker in your panel.

  • Make a circuit index for the door of your breaker panel; include a line for each breaker in the panel. Label your circuit index with the number of the breaker and what the breaker powers. Hang the index inside the breaker panel door.

Tips & Warnings

  • There are dedicated circuits in your home that only operate one item per breaker.

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