Almost everyone out there has damaged their circuit breaker at one point or another, whether plugging in one too many household appliances or overloading plug sockets without thinking too much about it. It is a lot more common than what you might assume to break a circuit breaker in your home. So if you have, rest assured that most homeowners and tenants have encountered the problem a few times. Circuit breakers are built to last, although various situations can damage them that they are not built for, such as overloaded plug sockets and several others.
With that said, replacing a circuit breaker is definitely not the most complex electrical job out there. However, it is generally best to leave the job to a professional electrician if you don’t have a basic electrical understanding. A simple mistake can lead to significant damage, not to mention the hazardous fire risks. Although replacing a circuit breaker is on the more basic end of the spectrum of electrical works, some electrical projects are risky.
On the other hand, if you have some basic understanding of electrical systems and you know how to work with your hands, you can replace your circuit breaker yourself. You will need to purchase a few essential tools and, of course, a new circuit breaker. It is always best to go for big brands, such as Pacific Breakers. Even though unmarked brands might be a bit cheaper, it is never wise to risk buying inferior quality electrical devices for your home for obvious reasons.
Gathering Your Supplies
Once you have your circuit breaker, you will need a few other essentials. A quality pair of rubber-soled shoes is an absolute must for the job to prevent potential shocks. In addition, you will also need a voltage tester, a non-conductive surface to stand on, such as a piece of plywood, an insulated flashlight, insulated tools such as a screwdriver, pliers, and wire stoppers, and cable connectors. Now that you have your essentials, you can start with the project.
Ensure The Floor Is Dry
Before you get started, ensure the floor area where you will be working is completely dry. We all know electricity and water aren’t a great pairing, so check the site thoroughly before placing your plywood board on the floor where you will be standing.
Cut The Power To Breakers
Unplug and turn off anything controlled by the circuit that you’re going to be working on, and turn on your insulated light source. It is best to also use a different source of light just in case. Next, flip all breakers off on the board, and do so one at a time. Then switch off the main breaker. You must use your voltage tester to check each circuit to ensure they are all dead before you proceed.
Remove Circuit Panel Cover
Unscrew the circuit panel cover carefully, keeping all the screws in one secure place. When you remove the panel, lift it carefully towards yourself without letting it touch anything inside as you remove it. Once you have removed the panel, carefully check for any signs of damage, such as corrosion. If you note any damage, it is safest to call an electrician immediately and halt your project. On the other hand, if there is definitely no damage, you can proceed independently with the replacement.
Disconnect The Old Breaker
Before disconnecting and removing the old breaker, please note precisely how the old breaker is placed to insert the new one. You will need to turn the terminal screws until wires are loose and then use your insulated pliers to pull the wires free as gently as possible. Then pop the old breaker out and discard it. It would help if you discarded the old circuit breaker safely.
Inserting Your New Circuit Breaker
Once the old breaker is removed, you can pop the new breaker in place, ensuring it is set to the OFF function. When connecting the wires, you might need to strip some of the insulation from the wires, and you may also find it easier to use your pliers to hold them in place while you turn the terminal screw. The terminal screw should be snug, although not too tight. While you still have the cover off, it is also an excellent idea to inspect and tighten any loose terminal screws that could cause a problem.
Replace The Cover
Carefully re-install your circuit panel cover and screw it back into place. Now you must turn on the main breaker and then gradually flip every other break back into the on position. Once all the breakers are on, you must use your voltage tester to verify that each breaker is receiving power. If there are no issues, you can plug your items back in and switch on lights controlled by the panel. If you have done the job correctly, everything will work fine without tripping the power. However, if the power trips, it is best to call an electrician to determine the fault.
There are countless great home improvement projects and home repair projects that you can tackle yourself. However, it is always crucial to ensure you have all the right tools for the job and adequate basic knowledge of what the project requires. While some would stress that it is best to let electricians handle any electrical problems, there are several safe electrical projects that you can manage. Changing light bulbs, replacing light fixtures, and replacing the odd circuit breaker are basic electrical jobs that don’t require too much knowledge.
With that said, when working on DIY electrical jobs, the second you encounter a problem, it is best to abort the project and contact a professional. It is also never a good idea to revisit an electrical project if you failed the first time, as you may have unknowingly caused damage that would now pose a risk. So, if your circuit breaker replacement is tripping the power, don’t attempt to fix it again but instead rely on a professional.