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How to Replace a Circuit Breaker

You don't have to be an electrician to replace a circuit breaker, but it helps to act like one and take every precaution.


  • Step 1: Replace the breaker panel cover, screwing it down tight. Switch on the main breaker and turn on the other breakers.
  • Step 2: Insert the front of the new breaker, clicking it into the bus bar, and pop the wire end into position, being careful not to crimp the folded wires. The breaker should end up flush with the panel.
  • TIP: If after you turn power back on, the breaker trips and clicks off, call an electrician right away to trace the defect.
  • Step 3: Test the new circuit breaker by reconnecting appliances and turning them on.
  • FACT: The United States Fire Administration reports there are approximately 28,300 residential building electrical fires annually, causing nearly $1 billion in losses.
  • Step 4: Twist, trim, and clean the wire ends, stripping them a little if needed. Wrap the wire ends by connecting the same colors on the same contacts as before on the new breaker, which should be the same amperage as the old one. Tighten the screws.
  • Step 5: Locate and remove the faulty breaker. Lift the wire end out with the screwdriver. Take the breaker out and disconnect the wires with the screwdriver.
  • Step 6: Turn off all electrical appliances. Then, locate the circuit breaker panel in your home. Turn off the lights in the room where the panel is.
  • TIP: Get someone to hold a flashlight for you if you don't have enough light.
  • Step 7: Find the main breaker, located at the top of the panel. It has thick wires running to it. Flip it off without touching the wires. Then, flip off all the breakers below the main breaker. Using the screwdriver, remove the outer metal panel of the circuit breaker box.
  • TIP: Once the main breaker is off, all the power in the building will go out.
  • : Do not touch the service panel wires that feed the main breaker. Even after you turn off the circuit breaker box, electricity is flowing through the wires. Proceed with caution.

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