how to change a circuit breaker in a fuse box


Why You Need to Know How to Change a Circuit Breaker in a Fuse Box

Have you ever experienced a power outage in your home, only to find that it was caused by a tripped circuit breaker? Or perhaps you've noticed that certain electrical appliances are constantly tripping the breaker, leaving you frustrated and inconvenienced. Learning how to change a circuit breaker in a fuse box is an essential skill for any homeowner or renter, as it allows you to quickly and safely restore power to your home. In this article, we will guide you through the step-by-step process of changing a circuit breaker, ensuring that you can confidently troubleshoot and resolve electrical issues in your home.

The Basics: Understanding Circuit Breakers and Fuse Boxes

Before we delve into the process of changing a circuit breaker, let's first understand the basics of how circuit breakers and fuse boxes work. Circuit breakers are devices that protect an electrical circuit from overloads and short circuits. They are designed to automatically trip, or switch off, when they detect excessive current flow, which can cause damage or start a fire. Fuse boxes, on the other hand, house multiple fuses that perform the same function as circuit breakers.

By tripping or blowing, circuit breakers and fuses act as safety measures, preventing electrical hazards and damage to your appliances and electrical system. When a circuit breaker or fuse trips, it disrupts the flow of electricity to a specific circuit, cutting off power to that area of your home. This can be a small inconvenience, such as losing power to a single room, or a major inconvenience if it affects essential areas like your kitchen or bathroom.

Identifying the Circuit Breaker That Needs to be Replaced

The first step in changing a circuit breaker is to identify the specific breaker that needs to be replaced. To do this, you'll need to locate your electrical panel, also known as the fuse box or breaker box. This panel is typically found in a basement, utility room, or garage, though it can sometimes be located in a closet or on an exterior wall. Once you have found the electrical panel, follow these steps:

1. Evaluate the Breakers: Open the panel's door and examine the circuit breakers or fuses. Look for any switches that are in the "Off" position or fuses that appear discolored or blown. These are typically indicators that a circuit has tripped or a fuse has blown.

2. Identify the Affected Circuit: If you notice any switches or fuses in the "Off" or damaged state, try to identify which part of your home those circuits control. Walk around your home and test the electrical outlets, switches, and appliances in each room to determine which area has lost power.

3. Match the Circuit Breaker: Once you have identified the affected circuit, go back to the electrical panel and look for the corresponding circuit breaker. Circuit breakers are typically labeled, indicating the area or appliances they control. If the breaker isn't labeled, you may need to switch off each breaker individually and test the affected circuit after turning each one back on to find the correct breaker.

Ensuring Safety: Shutting Off the Power

Before you begin replacing a circuit breaker, it is crucial to prioritize your safety. Working on live electrical circuits can be extremely dangerous and potentially fatal. Therefore, it is essential to shut off the power supply to your entire home or the specific circuit you'll be working on. Here's how you can ensure your safety:

1. Locate the Main Service Panel: The main service panel is the central hub that distributes electricity throughout your home. It is usually located near the electric meter, usually outside your house or in an attached garage. In rare cases, it may be located inside.

2. Turn Off the Main Breaker: Open the main service panel and locate the main breaker. This switch is typically larger than the other circuit breakers in the panel and is labeled as the main breaker or "On/Off." To shut off the power supply to your entire home, flip this switch to the "Off" position.

3. Alternatively, Locate the Affected Circuit Breaker: If you can determine which specific circuit breaker controls the affected area, it may be sufficient to switch off only that breaker. However, keep in mind that other circuits may still be live, so exercise caution when working.

Removing the Old Circuit Breaker

With the power supply switched off, you can now proceed to remove the faulty circuit breaker. However, keep in mind that there are different types of circuit breakers, and the removal process may vary slightly depending on the type you have. The presence of manufacturer-specific instructions should always take precedence. Follow these general steps to remove the old circuit breaker:

1. Inspect the Breaker: Before proceeding, visually inspect the old circuit breaker for any signs of damage, such as burn marks, loose connections, or a tripped mechanism. Understanding the cause of the breaker failure can help prevent future issues and ensure a successful replacement.

2. Wear Safety Gear: It is essential to wear appropriate safety gear, such as safety glasses and insulated gloves, when working with electrical components. This protects you from potential hazards and reduces the risk of electric shock.

3. Use a Screwdriver: Circuit breakers are typically held in place by screws. Use an appropriate screwdriver to remove these screws and loosen the connections holding the breaker to the electrical panel.

4. Disconnect the Wires: With the screws removed, you can now disconnect the wires from the old circuit breaker. Carefully pull the wires out of the terminal connections, ensuring not to damage the wires or the panel.

5. Remove the Circuit Breaker: Once the connections are detached, gently slide the old circuit breaker out of the panel. Set it aside, as some circuit breakers can be recycled or disposed of according to local regulations.

Installing the New Circuit Breaker

Now that you have successfully removed the old circuit breaker, it's time to install the new one. Follow these steps to ensure a proper installation:

1. Choose the Correct Circuit Breaker: When selecting a new circuit breaker, make sure it is compatible with your electrical panel. Circuit breakers come in different capacities, and using an incompatible one can lead to safety issues or damage to your electrical system.

2. Inspect the Panel: Before installing the new breaker, inspect the electrical panel for any signs of damage or corrosion. If you notice any issues, it is recommended to consult a licensed electrician before proceeding.

3. Align the New Circuit Breaker: Insert the new circuit breaker into the vacant slot in the electrical panel. Make sure the breaker is properly aligned with the bus bar and the notches on the panel.

4. Connect the Wires: Carefully connect the wires to the appropriate terminals on the new circuit breaker. Ensure that the connections are tight and secure to prevent any future issues.

5. Tighten the Screws: Use a screwdriver to securely tighten the screws that hold the circuit breaker in place. Ensure that the breaker is firmly seated in the panel without any movement.

Powering Up: Restoring Electricity

With the new circuit breaker installed, it's time to restore power to your home. Follow these steps to successfully power up the affected circuit:

1. Turn On the Circuit Breaker: Return to the main service panel and switch the circuit breaker to the "On" position. If you had shut off the main breaker, restore power by switching it back on as well.

2. Test the Circuit: Head to the affected area of your home and test the outlets, switches, or appliances that previously had no power. If everything is functioning correctly, you have successfully changed the circuit breaker. However, if the power issue persists, you may need to consult a professional electrician to further diagnose the problem.

3. Reset Other Tripped Breakers: While you're in the electrical panel, it is a good practice to check for and reset any other tripped breakers. Tripping can often occur due to temporary issues such as overloading or surges, so resetting them will help ensure the proper functioning of all circuits in your home.


Knowing how to change a circuit breaker in a fuse box is an invaluable skill that every homeowner or renter should possess. With this knowledge, you can tackle electrical issues confidently and maintain a safe and functional electrical system in your home. Remember to always prioritize your safety and consult with a professional electrician if you are unsure or uncomfortable performing any electrical work. By mastering the art of circuit breaker replacement, you can ensure the uninterrupted flow of electricity and maintain a comfortable and secure living environment.


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