How to Replace a Bus Bar

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The bus bar is located underneath the main cover of the electrical panel
The bus bar is located underneath the main cover of the electrical panel (Image: Jupiterimages/Photos.com/Getty Images)

The bus bar in your home's electrical panel is the long bar on one or both sides of the panel that contain many of the electrical lines in your home's wiring. The positive (black), or "hot" wires run from the the circuit breakers, while the neutral (white) and ground (bare copper) wires run to the bus bar, completing the circuit. Occasionally the bus bar becomes pitted and worn with time, requiring replacement. You can replace this yourself with some safe work habits and a few hours of time.

Things You'll Need

  • Philips screwdriver
  • Flat head screwdriver
  • Tape
  • Marker
  • Flashlight
  • Replacement bus bar

Turn off the main breaker that supplies power to the entire house. This will be the biggest breaker at the top of your electrical panel. You will need to perform the rest of the work by flashlight, so have a partner help you.

Remove the panel cover screws from the electrical panel and carefully remove the panel, exposing the internal wiring. The bus bars are long, copper-colored metal bars the run the vertical length of the box. There will be multiple white and copper wires attached to them.

Label the wiring in the panel using tape and a marker. Mark each wire in numerical order, starting from the top of the bus bar and working your way down. Once you remove and replace the bus bar, you will be able to easily replace the wires in numbered order.

Remove all of the labeled wires from the bus bar using a Philips screwdriver.

Remove the mounting screws on each end of the bus bar and remove it from the panel. Remember the orientation of the old bus bar inside the panel. You will need to install the new bus bar in the same orientation.

Install the new bus bar with the mounting screws provided, making sure that it's firmly installed in the breaker box.

Reinstall all of the old wiring to its original location, by following the labeled wires and inserting the end of each wire, one at a time, into the slot on the bus bar. Secure each wire by tightening it down with a screwdriver. Replace the cover on the panel and turn on the power to the main breaker.

Tips & Warnings

  • Be very careful when working with electricity. Make sure that there is no power to the breaker box before attempting to perform any work on it. Touching a live wire could lead to serious injury or death.

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