How to Change a Circuit Breaker to Increase Amperage

Changing the size of a circuit breaker to increase the available current is a great way to burn your house down, melt an outlet or ruin an appliance. The circuit breakers in your home's service panel are designed to prevent dangerous current overloads. A circuit breaker is sized to match the amount of electricity the wire can safely carry. If you are having trouble with a circuit breaker that is constantly tripping, the circuit is either overloaded or has other problems. You should install a larger circuit breaker only if the current breaker is undersized for the circuit's wiring.

Things You'll Need

  • Screwdriver

  • Voltage tester

  • Wire gauge

  • New circuit breaker

Step 1

Turn off the power to your service panel by shutting off the main breaker.

Step 2

Remove the service panel's cover. Use a screwdriver to remove the screws securing the faceplate and set it aside.

Step 3

Test the voltage inside the panel. If the voltage tester does not read zero, check the main breaker again.

Step 4

Check the wire size on the circuit you want to upgrade with a wire gauge. Consult your local electrical and building codes for recommended sizing.

Step 5

Pull the old breaker out of the service panel.

Step 6

Loosen the clip holding the wire to the breaker with a screwdriver and remove the wire.

Step 7

Attach the wire to the new breaker.

Step 8

Insert the new breaker into the service panel.

Step 9

Replace the service panel's cover and restore power to the panel by turning the main breaker on.

Tip

Consult a licensed electrician before attempting this.

Underwriters Laboratories recommends that 15-amp breakers be wired with 14-gauge wire as a minimum. The minimum for a 20-amp breaker is 12-gauge wire.

Warning

Do not attempt any work on or in the service panel if your voltmeter reads anything but zero.

Using a breaker that is too large for the wiring can cause property damage, injury or death.

References & Resources