how to change a 20 amp circuit breaker


Basic Information about Circuit Breakers

Circuit breakers are essential components in any electrical system. They are designed to protect circuits by automatically cutting off the flow of electricity when a fault is detected, preventing fires, electrical shocks, and other hazards. Over time, circuit breakers may become worn out or need to be replaced due to various reasons such as age, damage, or the need for higher amperage capacity. In this article, we will guide you through the process of changing a 20 amp circuit breaker, ensuring the safety and proper functioning of your electrical system.

Understanding the Electrical Panel

Before delving into the specifics of changing a circuit breaker, it is important to have a basic understanding of the electrical panel. The electrical panel, also known as the breaker box or distribution board, is typically found in basements, utility rooms, or garages. It houses multiple circuit breakers, each responsible for providing power to a specific area or appliance in your home.

The main circuit breaker is located at the top or bottom of the panel and controls the entire electrical flow to your home. This breaker should always be switched off before working on any circuit breaker within the panel. Remember, safety should always be the highest priority when dealing with electricity. If you are hesitant or unsure about any step in the process, do not proceed and consult a qualified electrician instead.

Gathering the Necessary Tools and Equipment

To successfully change a 20 amp circuit breaker, you will need the following tools and equipment:

1. Screwdriver or nut driver set: You will use this to loosen and remove the screws holding the circuit breaker in place.

2. Voltage tester or multimeter: This tool will help you ensure that the power to the circuit breaker you are replacing is turned off.

3. New 20 amp circuit breaker: Make sure to purchase a 20 amp circuit breaker that is compatible with your specific electrical panel. Check the manufacturer's instructions or consult a professional if you are unsure.

4. Safety glasses and gloves: Protecting yourself from potential hazards is crucial. Always wear safety glasses and gloves when working with electrical equipment.

Now that you have gathered all the necessary tools and equipment, you are ready to proceed with changing the 20 amp circuit breaker.

Step-by-Step Guide to Changing a 20 Amp Circuit Breaker

Now, let's get into the step-by-step process of changing a 20 amp circuit breaker:

1. Power off the electrical panel: Begin by turning off the main circuit breaker in your electrical panel. This will cut off all electricity flowing through the panel, ensuring your safety while working on the circuit breaker.

2. Identify the circuit breaker to be replaced: Locate the specific circuit breaker that needs to be replaced. It should be labeled with the corresponding area or appliance it powers. If the circuit breakers in your panel are not labeled, you may need to use a voltage tester or multimeter to identify the correct one.

3. Double-check power absence: Using a voltage tester or multimeter, verify that there is no power running through the circuit breaker. Gently touch the tester's probes to the terminals of the circuit breaker and ensure that no voltage is detected.

4. Loosen the circuit breaker screws: Once you have confirmed that there is no power, use a screwdriver or nut driver to loosen and remove the screws holding the faulty circuit breaker in place. Be sure to keep your fingers away from the metal parts and edges of the panel to avoid any accidental shocks.

5. Disconnect the wires: Carefully disconnect the wires connected to the circuit breaker, ensuring that you note the specific location of each wire. If necessary, take a photo or make a diagram for future reference.

6. Remove the faulty circuit breaker: With the wires disconnected, gently pull the faulty circuit breaker out of its slot in the panel.

7. Install the new circuit breaker: Carefully insert the new 20 amp circuit breaker into the vacant slot, making sure it is securely seated. Align the screw holes on the breaker with those on the panel and tighten the screws to hold it in place.

8. Reconnect the wires: Referencing your notes, photo, or diagram, reconnect the wires to the corresponding terminals on the new circuit breaker. Ensure that the wire connections are tight and secure.

9. Power on the circuit: With everything properly connected, it's time to restore power to the circuit. Switch on the main circuit breaker in the electrical panel and ensure that the new circuit breaker is functioning correctly.

Safety Precautions and Final Checks

Safety should always be a top priority when working with electricity. Here are some important safety precautions to keep in mind when changing a 20 amp circuit breaker:

1. Always turn off the main circuit breaker before starting any work on the electrical panel. Failure to do so can result in severe electrical shocks or even fatalities.

2. Ensure that you are using the correct tools for the job and that they are in good working condition. Faulty tools can pose a danger to both you and your electrical system.

3. Double-check for power absence. Use a voltage tester or multimeter to confirm that there is no electricity running through the circuit breaker you are working on.

4. Wear personal protective equipment, including safety glasses and gloves, to protect yourself from any potential hazards.


Changing a 20 amp circuit breaker may seem daunting at first, but with the right tools and knowledge, it can be a relatively straightforward process. Remember, safety should always be your top priority. Be sure to turn off the main circuit breaker, use a voltage tester to verify power absence, and wear appropriate protective equipment.

Always consult a professional electrician if you are unsure about any step or if you have concerns about your electrical system. By following the provided guidelines and taking the necessary safety precautions, you can successfully change a 20 amp circuit breaker and ensure the efficient and safe operation of your electrical circuits.


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