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Can I Replace a Circuit Breaker by Myself? – Answered

Writen by Edwin Jones

Fact checked by Andrew Wright

can i replace a circuit breaker by myself

Can I replace a circuit breaker by myself? The answer to this question might depend on your skills, knowledge of electricals, and residence.

If you live in a city that allows any person to work with electrical panels and possess enough knowledge of them, then you can probably do the work.

However, some places prohibit you from working on home electricals, since they require licensed electricians to do the work.

Is it Safe to Change Circuit Breaker by Yourself?

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  • Replacing breaker switch can be dangerous if you will be working with a live connection. The two hot wires before the main switch can still electrocute you even if you turn off the main breaker.
  • However, you can do the job safely if you have proper knowledge of household panels and the appropriate tools (such as a voltage detector or multimeter). They will help you determine which lines have an electrical connection.
  • In addition to safety, it is also a good idea to replace the damaged circuit breaker switch with a new one rather than attempting to repair it. This will save you money and time in resolving the issue.

If you aim to remove a circuit breaker in your panel, you should first refer to your local electrical code.

Most cities in the United States allow the homeowner to do the work of replacing breaker fuse. However, there are some places where you may be required to get a permit in order to work on your electrical box.

To get a better idea on the procedure of changing breaker fuse, here is some basic information on how it can be done.

  • Turn off the power source by flipping off the main switch of the panel.
  • Remove the panel cover or the cover plate.
  • Using a multimeter, make sure the wire of the breaker has no power.
  • Snap off the damaged circuit breaker, disconnect its connection, and remove it from a panel box.
  • Securely attach the disconnected wire to the new breaker and snap it in.
  • Put back the panel cover and turn on the main breaker.

When Do We Change a Breaker in a Breaker Box?

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The most common cause for replacing a circuit breaker is if it no longer works properly. However, there are some instances where you may need to upgrade one of your circuits due to the increase in energy demand.

Often, upgrading the wire is also necessary to match the circuit breaker’s rating. For example, suppose you want to upgrade from 20 to 30 amp breakers.

For a 20-amp breaker, we utilize a 12-gauge wire as a standard for electrical wiring. To avoid future electrical hazards, consider upgrading the wire to a 10 gauge one when replacing the 20A breaker with a 30-amp model.

However, there are several exceptions for the wire consideration. An example is when upgrading from 15 to 20 amp. If your cable is already 12 gauge, you can replace your 15 amp breaker with a 20 amp breaker without changing the wire.

If you decide to replace or install a circuit breaker yourself, you only have to pay the cost of the breaker unit. However, if you hire a professional electrician, the cost may exceed $187 as you have to pay for labor.

FAQs

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Do You Need to Turn Power Off to Change a Breaker?

Some professional electricians do not turn off the main breaker when replacing individual breakers. However, this practice is not something beginners should follow.

Without turning off power supplies, the risk of electrical shocks increases if you accidentally touch any hot wires while doing the operation.

How Long Does it Take to Replace a Circuit Breaker?

The breaker switch replacement is straightforward and only takes more or less 20 minutes. This includes the disassembly and assembly of the breaker box.

However, changing breakers may take more than an hour when it involves replacing damaged wiring.

How Do You Know if a Circuit Breaker Needs to be Replaced?

In most cases, circuit breaker replacement is needed when the device gets damaged or faulty. Here are the signs you need to consider to help you identify a damaged breaker.

  • Physically damaged unit
  • Burning smell or burn marks in the specific breaker
  • Old breakers more than ten years old since they are more likely to malfunction
  • Frequent tripping even if the appliance is functional and the breaker is sized correctly.
  • The breaker is not staying in the reset position

Conclusion

Installing a circuit breaker to replace a damaged one is not as complicated as you may think. Learning how to do this will significantly help you save money and time.

We hope this article clearly answered the question, “Can I replace a circuit breaker by myself?” Before making changes to your electrical system, consult your local inspector first to make sure you are allowed to do the work.

At the same time, if you feel nervous working with electricals, calling a professional is an excellent option to prevent unnecessary problems.

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