How to Replace a Circuit Breaker

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Circuit breakers are designed to interrupt the power to a circuit and protect your wiring. If your circuit breaker keeps tripping, the steps below will show you the right--and safe--way to fix it.

Determine Whether You Have a Problem

  • Plug a radio into an outlet on the circuit you're dealing with. Make sure that the volume is turned up so you can hear it when it comes on.

  • Find your panel box. It's usually in the basement or utility room.

  • Turn off the main power, if possible. Most panel boxes have a main on/off switch.

  • Press the tripped breaker toward "off" to reset it, then to "on." If it trips immediately, you either have a bad breaker or a short somewhere in the circuit.

Replace the Circuit Breaker

  • Purchase a new circuit breaker from a hardware store.

  • Take the panel cover off the panel box by unscrewing the face plate.

  • Notice the two wires feeding into the side of the breaker. Remember which one is in which position.

  • Loosen the screw holding the white wire first just enough to get the wire out.

  • Put a wire nut on the end of the white wire and bend it out of the way.

  • Loosen the other screw and do the same thing with the colored wire.

  • Pull the old circuit breaker out and snap a new one into place.

  • Replace the wires in the same positions as they were on the old breaker - colored one first, white one second.

  • Tighten the screws holding the wires.

  • Replace the face plate.

  • Turn the power to the panel on, if necessary.

  • Turn the breaker on. You should hear your radio. If it trips, call an electrician since you most likely have a potentially dangerous short circuit.

Tips & Warnings

  • Replace breakers with units of the same amperage. They are specifically designed for safety. If you use a higher amperage, you are overriding the safety feature.
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