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When to Replace Circuit Breakers

When to Replace Circuit Breakers

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When you’re troubleshooting electrical issues in your home, one place to look at is the circuit breaker box. This is where electricity initially enters your home, and the box contains circuit breakers for each of your electrical circuits. If a fault occurs or if the load on your circuit becomes too great, the breaker is “tripped,” effectively cutting off the current’s flow to that circuit. If your electrical difficulties are indeed due to a damaged circuit breaker, that breaker must be replaced. To learn more about when to replace a circuit breaker – and how much it costs to replace a circuit breaker electrical panel – read on to get the information you need.

Testing for a Faulty Circuit Breaker

When troubleshooting an electrical problem, the first thing you need to do is identify what circuit it’s on. After you’ve ruled out any obvious difficulties such as a burned out light bulb, faulty device, or problem at your local power plant, the next thing you need to do is visit your circuit box. Unplug any devices that are on the affected circuit and turn off any lights. Visually inspect the position of each circuit breaker in the service panel. The tripped switch will be leaning toward the OFF side or have a popped red button or other indication that it’s been tripped.

Once you’ve found the tripped circuit breaker, double check your circuit map to be sure it’s the right circuit and then check again that everything on this circuit is off or unplugged. Then reset the circuit switch. Once it resets, slowly turn devices back on or plug them in one by one. If it immediately flips off again or does so once everything is plugged in, then there may be a problem in the wiring or the switch itself.

When to Replace Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers tend to last a long time, but sometimes they become worn out, broken, or simply malfunction. A big clue that a circuit breaker is malfunctioning is when it begins to trip often or won’t stay reset. Of course, the best indication that it’s time to replace circuit breakers is if they are hot to the touch, are putting off a burning smell, or are showing signs of damage such as black or burned material or frayed wires. If you’re unsure, you can always test the circuit breaker using a multimeter to see if there’s power. If there’s no sign of power, then the breaker is faulty and it’s time to replace it.

When it’s time to replace circuit breakers in your electrical system, your best bet is to contact an electrician or other professional. Working with electricity is tricky and can be dangerous, and is thus best left to someone with training. An electrician will also be able to determine if the problem extends beyond the breaker, involving the box itself or even wiring in the home. By using a trained professional, you will keep yourself and those you live with safe, and will ensure that the job is done right.

Cost to Replace Circuit Breaker Electrical Panel

Since every home’s electrical system is a little different, it’s difficult to provide an estimate of what it would cost to replace the circuit breaker electrical panel in its entirety. Instead, many choose to look at the repair cost per individual break. In 2015, the current per breaker cost of a repair with a qualified electrician ranges from $175 to $255, assuming the job takes about two hours to complete. It’s important to remember that this estimate does not include any additional work that may need to be done to wiring, outlets, HVAC equipment on the system or other aspects of the electrical system.

Related: 

Top 5 Reasons Your Dryer Keeps Tripping the Circuit Breaker

Top 10 Electrical Troubleshooting Tips

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