It's never fun when the lights go out. And if it's dark outside, it's even worse. Electrical circuit breakers are usually very dependable, but they can go out at any time. You should know what to do before they go out. Circuit breakers are safety devices in your home that keep you from having fires and injury from electrocution. Be prepared, and then the dark won't be such a scary place after all.
What Can Go Wrong?
What usually happens to your circuit breaker is that it trips. All that means is the breaker turned itself off. It may occur because of a power surge from your electric company; it could also be from a short in your wiring. When a circuit breaker has been tripped a lot, the mechanism becomes weak. When this occurs, less than the rated amps can trip it. And, unfortunately like all things, it may have just worn out completely and needs replaced.
What Should I Do If It Trips?
You should already know where your main electrical panel is. When you open the panel's door there will be rows of breakers (usually two). If you don't know which breaker to turn back on, then look for the one that is switched off, and turn it back on. Hopefully that is all you need to do. If it immediately trips again, you have an electrical short and you need to call an electrician to find and repair it. If the same breaker keeps tripping, then it may be a weak breaker or an electrical short. If you don't know which it is, then you should call an electrician.
How To Replace A Circuit Breaker
You will need to look on the face of the breaker that you want to replace and get the amp rating so that you can purchase a new one of the same rating. Get an alternate light source (such as a flashlight) and turn it on. Switch the main breaker off. There should be no electricity in your house now. Take out the screws that hold the panel's cover in place and remove the cover. Find the breaker that you want to replace. Take the wire off of the breaker. Now pry the breaker up on the opposite end that the wire was attached to. Then slip the breaker out of the panel. Pay close attention to how it fits into the panel as you remove it because you will need to know how to replace the new one. Reattach the wire to the new breaker. Slide the breaker into place and snap it down into place. Now replace the panel cover and turn the main breaker back on. Be sure your new breaker is on and go to see that everything is working properly. If anything seems wrong, call an electrician immediately.