How to Remove a Breaker From a Panel

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Removing a circuit breaker takes only a few minutes.
Removing a circuit breaker takes only a few minutes. (Image: electrician image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Removing a circuit breaker from an electrical service panel is one of the easiest electrical projects any do-it-yourselfer can tackle. The process takes only a few minutes and requires just a screwdriver. Circuit breakers are quite durable and generally do not wear out, so it is uncommon to have to replace a faulty breaker. Also, breakers that are not connected to a circuit can remain in place, so it might not be necessary to remove the breaker at all.

Things You'll Need

  • Flashlight
  • Screwdriver
  • Wire cutters (optional)

Disconnecting a Circuit and Breaker

Turn off power to the service panel at the main breaker.

Remove the cover to the panel by unscrewing the fasteners located in the corners of the cover.

Locate the electrical cable that supplies the electricity to the circuit you are disconnecting. The cables enter the panel through knockout holes and are held in place with cable clamps. Unscrew the clamp and lock nut securing the cable.

Disconnect the white (neutral) and ground wires. The neutral wire is connected to a terminal on the neutral bus usually located on the side of the panel. The green ground wire is either connected to the same neutral bus or to a ground bus with green terminals.

Grasp the exposed end of the breaker where the black (hot) wire is attached. Pry up the end until the breaker unclips from the hot bus bar. You should not have to use much force.

Disconnect the black wire from the breaker by unscrewing the set screw. Cut the wire if necessary and remove the electrical cable by pulling it through the knockout.

Reattach the cover to the service panel. Turn off all breakers in the service panel to avoid power surges in the circuits when electricity is restored. Turn on the power at the main breaker and reset the other breakers.

Removing and Replacing a Breaker

Turn off the power at the main breaker and remove the cover to the service panel. Remove the cover to the panel by unscrewing the fasteners located in the corners of the cover.

Grasp the exposed end of the breaker where the hot wire is attached. Pry up the end of the breaker until it unclips from the hot bus bar.

Disconnect the black wire from the breaker and attach the wire to the new breaker. You do not need to touch the neutral or ground wires if you are not replacing the breaker. If so, disconnect the neutral and ground wires from their buses and remove the electrical cable from the service panel.

Snap the new breaker into place by clipping it to the hot bus bar. Reattach the cover to the service panel.

Turn off all breakers in the service panel to avoid power surges in the circuits when electricity is restored. Turn on the power at the main breaker and reset the other breakers.

References

  • "Wiring, 7th ed."; Creative Homeowner; 2010.
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