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Proudly Serving Calgary and the Greater Area

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Breaker Box

An image of a circuit breaker

The electrical breaker box commonly known as the circuit breaker panel is the main source of power that is supplied in a building. It is basically a switch whose main role is to safely distribute power and it is connected to sub switches or breakers that aid in ensuring power safety. To avoid overloading the wiring with power during surges, the breakers limit the capacity of power that is transmitted to power outlets at a given time. Electricity from the company’s line passes from the meter to the breaker panel. A proper functioning circuit breaker panel has efficient power features that minimize the risk of electrical damage from voltage fluctuations, improper grounding, damaged wiring and insulation, and poor grounding. As a reputable electrical contractor, we inform on the importance of this switch and the role it plays to ensure that our clients remain safe in their homes.

Safety Components Of A Breaker Box

A proper functioning breaker panel should have the following features to facilitate an efficient safety mechanism. 

  1. The main circuit breaker switch. This is the main switch that when turned on or off controls the flow of electricity. If there is too much power drawn, the circuit breaker will trip and cut off the flow of current. The standard breakers are mainly categorized into single-pole breakers and double-pole breakers.
  2. Subpanels. They are the small breaker boxes that are fitted to accommodate more circuits in cases where there is no space to handle new circuits
  3. Bus bars. Bus bars also known as hot bus bars are connected to the two rows of the breaker panel. This is the main point where the power flows from the circuit breaker panel to the connected circuits that lead to the power outlets. 
  4. Arc fault circuit interrupters. These are special circuit breakers that add protection against electrocution or electrical fires
Knowing The Difference In Size

Breaker boxes are mainly in 2 main sizes; the 100 amp and the 200 amp sizes. The size to be used in a home depends on the amount of power that the circuit breaker panel will have to handle. The size will also depend on the number of circuits connected to the main circuit breaker panel.

How To Reset A Main Circuit Breaker Box

The circuit breaker panel may trip occasionally due to extremely stormy weather or normal power surges. A simple reset may do the trick to get it back to functioning normally. The right procedure to follow to ensure safety is:

  1. Switch off each circuit breaker that controls the branch circuits. 
  2. Reset the level on the main breaker panel to ON status. Turn away when doing this to protect yourself from any bright flash or sparks that may fly. 
  3. Switch on the individual circuits that you had initially turned off. Do this one circuit at a time by resetting the lever to ON status to avoid overloading the main breaker at once. 
Signs That Your Electrical Breaker Box Needs To Be Replaced

With time, breaker boxes may not be able to effectively support all the electrical appliances and the power supply required. This then calls for an electrical panel upgrade or a replacement. These are some of the signs that show the circuit breaker panel is failing.

Burning Smell

If you smell a burning odor from your electrical panel, it could be a sign that the insulation or wiring has overheated. Burning smell means that the circuit breaker is no longer functioning as it should and your home is at risk of electrical damage or fire. When this happens, immediately switch off the main supply and get in touch with an electrical contractor to come and fix the issue.

Breaker Box Does Not Reset

With time after resetting your breaker panel several times with success, it may one time refuse to reset. This means it keeps going off after a short period and will not reset. An electrician will be the best person to come fix the faulty breaker and check the whole circuit to identify any other issues such as faulty wiring.

How To Reset A Main Circuit Breaker Box

The circuit breaker panel may trip occasionally due to extremely stormy weather or normal power surges. A simple reset may do the trick to get it back to functioning normally. The right procedure to follow to ensure safety is:

  1. Switch off each circuit breaker that controls the branch circuits.
  2. Reset the level on the main breaker panel to ON status. Turn away when doing this to protect yourself from any bright flash or sparks that may fly.
  3. Switch on the individual circuits that you had initially turned off. Do this one circuit at a time by resetting the lever to ON status to avoid overloading the main breaker at once.
 
Signs That Your Electrical Breaker Box Needs To Be Replaced

With time, breaker boxes may not be able to effectively support all the electrical appliances and the power supply required. This then calls for an electrical panel upgrade or a replacement. These are some of the signs that show the circuit breaker panel is failing.

Burning Smell

If you smell a burning odor from your electrical panel, it could be a sign that the insulation or wiring has overheated. Burning smell means that the circuit breaker is no longer functioning as it should and your home is at risk of electrical damage or fire. When this happens, immediately switch off the main supply and get in touch with an electrical contractor to come and fix the issue.

Breaker Box Does Not Reset

With time after resetting your breaker panel several times with success, it may one time refuse to reset. This means it keeps going off after a short period and will not reset. An electrician will be the best person to come fix the faulty breaker and check the whole circuit to identify any other issues such as faulty wiring.

Physical Marks Of Damage

If the wiring is burnt or faulty it is likely to see burnt marks around the breaker boxes, power outlets, or on the appliances. A melted or burnt wire is a very dangerous thing as it increases the risk of a sudden electrical fire that may cause huge damages. When you identify such marks, remove all connectors of the breaker and immediately get the assistance of an electrician.

Frequent Tripping Of Breakers

The circuit breaker panel in most cases may trip due to a temporary minor issue and a simple reset can fix the problem. However, frequent tripping is a troubling sign. If you experience numerous tripping each time you switch on a light or turn on an electrical appliance, your electrical breaker box needs to be upgraded. It has a limit to the power it can supply and once you draw more power than it can distribute, it may trip or fail. In other cases, the breaker may still be in good working condition but you lack sufficient circuits in your system. An electrician will be able to diagnose and advise you on whether the circuit breaker panel is damaged or if you need an additional circuit.

Aged Circuit Breaker

Circuit breakers can last for many years without any issue. If you have stayed for more than a decade without having it checked, we highly advise on getting it assessed as it is likely that it needs to be replaced.

Strange Sounds

If you ever hear strange sounds coming from your circuit breaker panel, call your electrician immediately as this is a sure sign that your electrical system is faulty and needs a professional check.

A picture of an electrical circuit
Safety Precautions To Take

At one time or another, you may have to look into your breaker box. To keep yourself safe, consider the following each time you access your breaker panel.

  1. Turn off the main power supply before you begin working
  2. Ensure your hands are dry and there is no trace of water on the surface you will work on
  3. If the circuit breaker does not reset avoid continuously resetting the power break and get professional help
  4. Turn the switch off and on to check and test the different power outlets connected to the circuit breaker
  5. Follow the correct resetting procedure when you need to shut off the power supply from the main breaker panel. 
  6. Contact a licensed electrician to handle or troubleshoot open or damaged wires

A breaker box should never be overworked as it is likely to cause serious damage from overheating. It is crucial to periodically check the status of your electrical system and get professional advice and assistance anytime you have an electrical breaker box issue, big or small. 

Here at Platinum Electrical Services, we highly recommend having high-quality and durable circuit breakers that are reliable and will offer you lasting power distribution and protection. If you need more information or need assistance with your faulty circuit breaker panel, reach out to us today. 

Breaker Box - FAQ's

You do not require an electrician to replace a breaker box of an electrical panel if it is not the main pain to the house. A permit is required to replace a sub-panel as well as the main electrical panel. Although a homeowner can pull a permit to perform a sub-panel replacement it is highly advised that you contact an electrical company to perform the task.

To replace a breaker box will vary in cost depending on if you are replacing a main electrical panel or if you are replacing a subpanel. Subpanel replacements cost less due to the number of circuits involved as well as the fact you don’t have to disconnect power to the service because they have a separate disconnect for just the panel.

A breaker box uses circuit breakers that both provide thermal and magnetic circuit protection, a fuse box will have fuses to limit the current by means of thermal protection.

A breaker box is dangerous just as all electrical devices are considered dangerous. Electricity is dangerous, plain and simple. A breaker box is no more dangerous than your plugs and switches in your house. It should be handled with respect and extreme caution. Only qualified individuals should touch any electrical throughout your home.

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