How to Install Pushmatic Circuit Breakers


Pushmatic circuit breakers, originally manufactured by the ITE Corporation, were used in many homes in the 1950s and 60s. While Pushmatic service panels themselves have not been produced for many years, the circuit breakers are still made today by other manufacturing companies. Pushmatic breakers bolt onto the buss bar as opposed to the snap-in style of breakers found in modern service panels. Learn to install a Pushmatic circuit breaker safely with the proper tools and basic electrical circuit knowledge.

Things You'll Need

  • Rubber mat
  • Battery-powered work light
  • Flat-head screwdriver
  • Phillips screwdriver
  • Voltage tester
  • Combination pliers
  • Locate the main electrical panel. Place a rubber mat on the floor in front of the panel to stand on while working. Open the panel door to gain access to the breakers.

  • Turn the main electrical supply circuit breaker to the "Off" position. Check to ensure the breaker is off by looking through the small viewing window on the breaker itself. Have a battery-powered work light ready to use after turning the power off.

  • Remove the cover panel screws using the appropriate head screwdriver. Unscrew the panel starting at the bottom screws and working up to the top screws. Firmly hold the cover panel assembly with one hand as you remove the last screw from the top, then pull the cover panel assembly straight out and set it aside.

  • Verify that power is off. Use a voltage tester and place one probe of the tester on the neutral buss bar. Follow the white or neutral and copper grounding wires to locate the buss. Place the other probe on the tip of the black hot wire intended for the new Pushmatic circuit breaker.

  • Place the black hot wire into the new circuit breaker terminal clamp and tighten the terminal screw in a clockwise direction with a screwdriver.

  • Install the Pushmatic circuit breaker into the desired position inside the main panel. Line up the buss-extension hole on the breaker with the corresponding hole in the hot buss bar of the panel.

  • Insert the buss-extension screw into the hole and tighten it clockwise with a screwdriver.

  • Use combination pliers to remove the appropriate tabs in the cover panel assembly to accommodate the new breaker.

  • Install the cover panel assembly onto the main panel. Start at the top of the panel and work to the bottom using a screwdriver to tighten the panel screws. Turn the screws in a clockwise direction.

  • Turn the main panel supply breaker to the "On" position to restore power.

  • Turn the new Pushmatic circuit breaker to the "On" position.

Tips & Warnings

  • Ensure a firm connection between the buss extension and the buss terminal to prevent electrical arcing, which can damage the buss and the breaker.

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