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a residential breaker box with conductor cables and circuit breakers.

Breaker Box

Originally contributed by Jeff Butler • last updated 1/21/2021

Whether you're looking for a tripped breaker or you’re cutting the power before you repair an appliance, knowing how to locate and operate your breaker box is an essential homeowner skill.

Definition

The term breaker box (or fuse box) typically refers to the main electrical panel or circuit breaker box that distributes power throughout a house or building. A breaker box typically contains both a larger main circuit breaker, which supplies power to the entire panel/house, and several smaller circuit breakers that supply power to different areas and appliances throughout the house. When opened at the front, most household breaker boxes display a panel cover with two vertical rows of switches/breakers and a larger main switch/breaker at the top (sometimes bottom).

How To Replace A Circuit Breaker

A common question around breaker boxes is how to replace a circuit breaker. Although, performing the task is not inherently difficult, it does require working with electricity and could be dangerous. Please, consult a professional:

  • Assuming you have the replacement circuit breaker ready, start by turning off the main power supply. Then remove the electrical panel cover so you can remove the old circuit breaker. You’ll need to disconnect the wires and reconnect them to the new circuit breaker. Pop it back in and put the electrical panel cover back on. Voila!
  • WARNING! Working with electricity can be dangerous, even for experienced DIYers. If you’re unsure about working with electricity, you should probably consult a professional electrician.
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