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How Long Do Circuit Breakers Last? Here is the Answer!

Written by Edwin Jones / Fact checked by Andrew Wright

how long do circuit breakers last

Circuit breakers are important to every household. This device ensures the safety of homes against unwanted electrical accidents. However, like all devices, circuit breakers wear out also.

It is for this exact reason that we must learn the general circuit breaker life expectancy — in order to prevent sudden electrical accidents.

However, how long do circuit breakers last? This is a budding question to each and every homeowner. Now, circuit breakers tend to have a lifespan of around 30 – 40 years, as per electrical experts.

If you want to learn more about circuit breakers, then I suggest that you head on and read more below!

Longevity of Circuit Breakers


The Consumer Product Safety Commission outlines that the average circuit breaker lifespan is around 30 – 40 years. On the other hand, some experts instead estimate the lifespan of circuit breakers to be around 15 – 20 years instead.

The stark differences in the estimate of the average lifespan of circuit breakers lie mainly in the different conditions that the electrical safety devices are stored in.

For instance, the Consumer Product Safety Commission stated that homes that don’t experience relative electrical disturbances can expect their circuit breakers to last a long time.

In addition, the type of circuit breaker also affects its longevity. For example, the average lifespan of Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI) and Ground Fault Circuit Interrupters (GFCI) is determined to be around 15 – 20 years.

All in all, the average operational longevity of circuit breakers depends entirely on their environment.

Weak Circuit Breaker Symptoms


Now that we’ve discussed the general lifespan of circuit breakers, it is now the time to know significant bad breaker symptoms that may signify a faulty circuit breaker unit.

In general, these are the signs of a bad breaker:

  • Flickering circuit breaker lights
  • Poor performance of connected electronics
  • Bulbs quickly burning out unexpectedly
  • Burnt smell emanating from the breaker panel
  • Melted wirings or signs of physical damage within the breaker panel
  • Frequent breaker tripping
  • Excessive heat coming from the breaker panel

If you experience at least two of the symptoms I’ve outlined, then I recommend that you either replace the breaker or coordinate with an electrician that has the expertise to handle faulty breakers.

In my experience, most of the symptoms I’ve provided are much more evident when the circuit breaker has reached the pinnacle of its lifespan. Hence, I highly advise that you regularly check whether your breaker panel is up-to-date and has no problems.

Tips on Replacing Circuit Breaker

After determining the symptoms of a faulty breaker due to old age, this is the perfect time to know when & how to replace a circuit breaker. Do carefully note that these are the guidelines that I follow when it comes to replacing an old and faulty circuit breaker.

  • Carefully scour and look at the breaker panel. Check if there are any signs of faultiness and anything out of the ordinary. Note the specific circuit that certain breakers protect. This ensures that you won’t accidentally meddle with functioning circuit breakers randomly.
  • Once you’ve determined the faulty and old circuit breaker, now is the time to unplug all the connected appliances. Confirm that each and every single appliance is removed from their circuit sockets as you don’t want to damage them accidentally.
  • Test the circuit breaker. If the breaker doesn’t trip when you test it, its sensor is likely damaged, and you need to replace your breaker.

When it comes to replacing circuit breakers, specificity is key. Hence, I follow this rigorous process of determining which circuit breaker requires attention.


Determining how long do circuit breakers last is a trivial yet important piece of information that each and every homeowner must be aware of. It is because of this specific reason that I’ve decided to curate this guide for our homeowners out there.

To reiterate, the general lifespan of circuit breakers is outlined to be around 30 – 40 years. If your circuit breaker experiences symptoms of weakness, then I recommend that you have them checked out.

All in all, I can only hope that this article helps you out with your circuit breaker endeavors. Thanks for reading!

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