Should I change a breaker without an electrician?

How to Change a Breaker – Should I call an Electrician?

Live in Oklahoma and need help with your breaker? If you need to know how to change a breaker, googling “electrician OKC” might be a better solution for staying worry-free. You can let the professionals take care of it. Or maybe, you think you have the skills to learn how to change a breaker yourself.

Can you fix a breaker that stopped working and needs to be changed? Is there permanent damage and does it need to be replaced? Feel like this is something that you can get done yourself? Keep reading to see if this is something you can do or if you need the help of a professional to get the job done.

Why Do Breakers Go Bad?

Breakers may stop functioning for a number of reasons. For example, during heavy storms or floods, the breaker may get water into the breaker and damage it permanently.

In addition, breakers may sometimes be overused when homeowners flip the switch on and off, making it wear off too soon. You should really try to avoid this as much as you can, hence this is damage that can be avoided.

Additionally, another reason your breaker might stop functioning can be due to power strikes and lightning, damaging the circuit breakers. These are just a few examples of the ways that breakers may get damaged.

Service Panel Upgrade - how to change a breaker

How to change a breaker – Can I Do It or Should I call an Electrician?

Whether small or big, whatever size damage your breaker might have had, it’s always better to change the breaker completely. Instead of trying to fix and replace all of the little bits that make the large component, it’s more cost-effective to replace it entirely.

Not only will you save plenty of money by doing this, but you will also get rid of the issue immediately, instead of you trying to figure out what is wrong with the breaker in the first place.

Many people do not want to replace it themselves since it is involved with many active circuits and get nervous dealing with wires and different aspects and functions of electrical work. They fear that a simple mistake may leave them with permanent damage or even a deadly accident. It’s always important to use your best judgment and decide if this is a job you can truly get done correctly.

Consider the Damage

Let’s say you have never done any electrical work before. How much money are you going to invest in the tools? How many hours of work are you willing to invest in learning how to change a breaker?

Maybe you are familiar with electrical work and do not want to spend any money on hiring an electrician. Will your job be better than a professional’s? Will you achieve the same results? Do you feel confident after googling, “How to change a breaker?” Are you willing to risk your safety and life for a repair that can be done by a professional? Why not search “electrician OKC” and let them handle it?

How to change a circuit breaker

There are many reasons to change a breaker. Some of the more common reasons we see are burnt up or bad breakers, installing a new dedicated circuit, or downsizing an oversized breaker to match the needs of a device. Whatever the reason, breakers need to be changed and it can be an intimidating task.

It should be noted that some cities and municipalities require a licensed electrical journeyman to replace breakers. You’ll need to find out whether your city requires an electrician to change a breaker. To determine if your local municipality requires a licensed electrician to work in your panel, you can call your local government’s building and permits office. You’ll want to speak to someone about electrical permits, specifically residential electrical permits. Ask them if it is a municipal code violation to replace a breaker yourself. 

If it is not against your city’s codes and you’re feeling up to the task you need to remember; that you’re working with electricity which might cause electrical shocks and burns and could be fatal. Changing a breaker is often thought of as a simple task. Don’t be fooled. When it comes to electricity, there’s no room for error. Aside from personal danger, you could create a fire hazard that could endanger your family, property, and community. 

Here’s what you’ll need to complete this project:

  • Flathead or Square tip Screwdriver
  • Replacement Breaker – (Choosing a replacement breaker)
  • Voltage Detector Pen (AKA a hot stick) 
  • Multimeter
  • Flashlight or another battery-operated light source

Steps for how to change a breaker:

  1. Switch off the main breaker.
    Before you start working, you’ll need to switch off your main breaker. For most residential breaker panels this is located at the top of the breaker panel or the bottom. You’ll need a flashlight or other battery-operated light source to work safely. Simply flip the main breaker to the off position this should cut all power to the house. IMPORTANT: Though power has been cut off from the breakers in the breaker box there is still electricity coming into the panel and there is still a chance for shock. 
  2. Remove the panel cover.
    Now that the power is off you can remove the panel cover. The easiest way to do this is to open the panel door and remove the bottom screws first. Next holding the cover in place remove the top screws; the panel cover should now be free. Set the cover and the panel screws down nearby until we’re ready for re-assembly. 
  3. Check with a Voltage Detector Pen.
    Next, we want to make sure the breaker is truly off. With your voltage detector pen, touch the wire going into the breaker you wish to replace. If there is any power going to the breaker the pen will light up and alarm (provided the pen is working correctly). If there isn’t any power, it is safe to remove the breaker. 
  4. Remove the bad breaker.
    To remove the breaker, you’ll need a flat head or square tip screwdriver. Located where the wire and the breaker meet, you’ll find a screw. Loosen the screw until the wire is free, you can now slide the wire out of the way. To remove the breaker, you need to gently (sometimes not so gently) pull the top (the end away from the wire) of the breaker out and you should be able to easily remove the rest of the breaker.
  5. Check the busbar for any burning or pitting. A common problem with a faulty breaker is burning or pitting on the breaker busbar. The busbar is the metal bar underneath the breakers in the panel. If there is any burning or pitting on the busbar YOUR PANEL IS UNSAFE and you’ll need to contact a licensed electrician as you may need a panel replacement. If you are unsure about your busbar’s condition you need to have a professional assessment. But if it is safe you can proceed to install the new breaker. 
  6. You need to make sure the wire is the correct size for the breaker you’re replacing and the device that will be in use.  To find out the correct wire size for your needs, you’ll need to consult the national electric code or hire a licensed professional to determine its safety. 
  7. Installing the new breaker.
    IMPORTANT: you must ensure that your replacement breaker is correct. If you install the wrong size, capacity, or even brand there can be serious damage done to you, your electrical system, or your home. To install the replacement breaker slightly angle the breaker into the space bottom side first when it is in place you can now push the top of the breaker snuggly into the busbar. 
  8. Fasten the wire to the breaker.
    Loosen the screw on the breaker. You’ll notice that underneath the screw there is a small metal bracket that clamps the wire down to the breaker. DO NOT put the wire under the screw. The wire needs to go in the clamp below the screw to ensure that it is safely secured. Place the wire in the clamp and tighten the screw down. Make sure the wire is secure. 
  9. Turn the power on and test the breaker.
    You can now put the panel cover back on and restore power by flipping the main breaker to the ON position. Make sure your new breaker is turned to the ON position. Use your multimeter to check the voltage on that circuit. 

Knowing how to change a breaker isn’t a cure-all for electrical problems. Often breakers go bad because of other problems in the electrical system. Changing a breaker may fix a symptom but there might be an even worse problem somewhere in your house. A licensed electrician can help find the root problem and ensure that your home is safe. Knowing how to change a breaker without fixing the underlying problem is dangerous. It’s best to bring in a professional. 

Replacing any part of your electrical system comes with risks. Even small jobs can result in property damage, and physical harm and can be fatal. Electricians have undergone years of training to mitigate all these risks. Having a licensed electrician replace your breaker will give you peace of mind, save you time, and could save you money by protecting you from property damage. While it may be tempting to do it yourself, most electrical projects are NOT DIY and require an expert. 

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