How to Remove a Circuit Breaker – Safely
- Mar 09, 2018
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If you need to replace a circuit breaker, your first thought may be to call an electrician.
However, as you’re about to find out, learning how to remove a circuit breaker is actually extremely easy to do. Do it once and you’ll have no problem doing so again and again as the need arises.
What You Need Before You Remove a Circuit Breaker
Before we show you how to remove a circuit breaker, you’re going to need some tools first. This isn’t the kind of project where your typical toolbox is going to contain the right instruments.
Obviously, you’re going to need the replacement circuit breaker. After that, make sure you have all of the following before getting started:
- A rubber mat or piece of plywood that you can stand on to insulate yourself against the risk of an electric shock
- Either an independent source of light or a flashlight that is also insulated
- Insulated wire strippers
- Insulated screwdriver
- Cable connectors for connecting the new circuit breaker to your home’s main panel
- A voltage tester
Do not try improvising. The tools above are absolutely required to do this job safely. Otherwise, you could risk injuring yourself or, at the very least, causing damage to your home.
How to Remove a Circuit Breaker in 14 Steps
Now, for how to remove a circuit breaker the safe way. Once you have the tools we covered above, follow the 13 steps below:
- Position your plywood or rubber mat so it’s close enough to the circuit breaker that you can work on it comfortably. If you have to move it at some point, don’t step off it until you’re no longer close to touching the breaker.
- One at a time, turn off all the branch circuit breakers individually.
- Turn off the main circuit breaker.
- Use your voltage tester to check all of the wires and confirm they’re dead.
- Take off the panel’s cover.
- Disconnect the circuit breaker’s wire.
- Note how the current breaker is positioned before carefully prying it out.
- Keeping in mind that positioning, push the new breaker in to replace it.
- Attach the wire for this new circuit to your loan terminal (you may need to strip off some of the insulation).
- Check for any other issues with your panel (e.g. loose terminals).
- Replace the cover of your panel.
- Turn the main breaker back on.
- Turn the branch breakers back on.
- Use your voltage tester to check the breakers and make sure’ they’re working.
Do a Practice Run Before Starting
As long as you cut off the power, learning how to remove a circuit breaker doesn’t need to be scary. While you still want to take proper precautions with a rubber mat or plywood and insulated tools, those initial steps are the ones that are most important.
That said, print these directions off and keep them nearby as you go through these steps. It’s also not a bad idea to do a practice run first to make sure you understand the entire process before beginning.