How to Install a Circuit Breaker in Your Home

Learn How to Safely Install a Circuit Breaker in your Main Circuit Panel

By Mark J. Donovan

Installing a circuit breaker, or replacing a circuit breaker, requires taking the utmost in safety precautions. Included in the circuit panel box is the main circuit breaker that feeds electricity to the various lower amp rated circuit breakers in the box.

When installing a circuit breaker always start by turning off the main circuit breaker to the panel. This way power to all of the other circuit breakers in the electrical box are un-powered and safe to touch.This said, you don’t want to touch the big metal nodes associated with the main circuit breaker as they are still live, even with the main circuit breaker turned off.

Also, before removing a circuit breaker, check what type it is and find a replacement one at your local home improvement center. Make sure to not only get the right physical type circuit breaker but also the same amperage rating as the one you plan to replace in your main circuit panel box.

Once you’ve turned off the main circuit breaker you can remove the gray circuit breaker panel cover to expose all of the breakers. There are usually 4 screws, one in each corner of the cover, that need to be removed. Make sure to use an insulated handled screwdriver when removing these screws. After removing the screws carefully remove the panel cover from the main circuit panel box.

Now pull the circuit breaker you want to replace from the bus bar. You’ll notice a wire attached to it. It is typically black or red, which signifies that it is a hot wire.

Here are circuit breakers in a main circuit panel box.

Again, use an insulated handled screw driver to disconnect the hot wire from the breaker. You’ll also see a white wire and a bare copper ground wire associated with the hot wire, however you can leave these alone as they are not attached to the circuit breaker.

Next, using your screw driver attach the hot wire to the replacement circuit breaker. Make sure the screw is fastened tightly to the wire.

Then simply push and snap the new circuit breaker onto the bus bar, where the old circuit breaker was.

Reattach the cover plate onto the circuit panel box and then flip the main circuit breaker back on. Finally turn the newly installed circuit breaker to the on position and confirm that the lights or appliances associated with the circuit are operating.

That’s all there is to it to installing a circuit breaker properly and safely.

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