How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

You are going to learn how to know or tell if a circuit breaker is bad, when you have a circuit and it tripping during the use of your electronics, then it time to check if your breakers need to be replaced.

Even though they have life expectancy of thirty to fourty years, it will eventually die, which will trip your circuits.

With the process to open your panel using a digital multimeter to check your voltage levels, which you can see easily to know if your breakers may be the problem.

Before we begin the process, you need to be careful when working with a live electric and it’s wires.

How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

Method 1

Test the Breaker with a Multimeter

Unplug or turn off all the device that is connected to the breaker.

How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

When you turn off all the electronics of the circuit, it will prevent it from surging.

Try to check your labels on your breaker box, if there is any, for each switch controls, then check what needs to be unplugged.

  • You may not be sure which breaker controls, then don’t plug the electronics in the area where the beaker tripped be for you start working on it.
  • If you already plugged the electronics, then unplug it.

Unscrew the panel from the breaker and set it aside.

How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

You can use a flathead or Philips head screw driver.

Though it depends on what screws are on the panel, there can be two screw or more.

Now you will need to set the screws aside in safe place, to know where they are if you need to put the panel back on.

After you have removed the last screw, you will need to hold the panel up with your hand, then slowly remove the panel cover.

Turn on your digital multimeter.

How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

multimeter is a machine that do tests your voltage or the current through the components of electric.

You should plug the black wire into port labeled, common or com 

The red wire should be plug into the port labeled, and with letter, with the symbol horseshoe.

And which you can be ensured, that you are measuring your voltage of the breaker.

  • You can purchase a multimeters at a local hardware store or you can get it online.
  • Try to check the wire casing, to be sure it had no damage or cracks, which may cause electrocution.

In case you see any damage, then try to use a different multimeter.

The red probe should be hold against the screw on the beaker which you are testing.

How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

You should hold the probe, which is the exposed metal, tap the end of the probe to screw right or left corner of the beaker.

Place the black probe against the neutral bar.

Place the black probe against the neutral bar

look for the white wires which is leading from your breakers do attached.

To complete the circuit, place the end of the black probe anywhere on the neutral bar.

  • The neutral bar should not be touch with your skin, it may cause electrocution.
  • If you have double pole breaker, then the end of the black probe on the second terminal screw of the breaker to get a correct reading.

Compare the meter reading to the breaker requirements.

Compare the meter reading to the breaker requirements

If you have only one breaker, check if the reading is around 120v.

Though it may be nearly above or below, but if so, then it is fine.If your breaker reads zero, then it needs to be replaced.

If you have double pole breaker, then it should read around 220-250 V.

If it’s a faulty double pole breaker it will read 120 V, which means it’s only operating at a half power.

  • Voltage of a circuit breaker do depends on size of wire that do comes into the circuit. Eg if a number 10 wire, that is equivalent to 30 amps.

How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

Method 2

Replacement of a Defective Breaker

Find a replacement breaker that has the same voltage.

Find a replacement breaker that has the same voltage

Focus your attention in the electric section at the local hardware store if a breaker with the same size as the one you are replacing.

The cost of double and single pole breaker, may be around five to ten dollars.

The individual breaker you need to replace, turn it off.

How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

Before you start working on it, push the switch into the off position.

It do prevents the current from traveling in the wires attached to the specific breaker.

If the breaker has a main circuit switch that is on top or bottom, then turn it off, doing so will completely shut off the electicity.

Doing so only a few minutes while replacing the breaker, then your food in the freezer will be kept.

Loose the terminal screw and pull wires out.

Loose the terminal screw and pull wires out

Make sure you are using the correct screwdriver for the kind of screw that holds the wires.

Start turning the screw till the wires start to loose, a pair of needle nose pilers can be used to pull the  exposed wires out of the terminal.

Try to make sure none of them touch any of the other wires or the breakers.

  • The tools with any rubber insulated should be used to avoid the risk of shock or electrocution.

Grab front side of the breaker and pull out old breaker.

Grab front side of the breaker and pull out old breaker

Tow or three of your fingers should be placed on the side of breaker.

Place your thumb near the terminal at opposite of the terminals.

Use your fingers to pull up on the side to pop the clips out of the place and remove the breaker.

  • Don’t touch metal bars which is in the back of the circuit box if the main power is still on, they could cause shock.

Slide the clips of new breaker in place then push it in.

How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

The terminal side should be put in place first, to make the clips latch on the bar.

Now push the opposite corner down to lock the breaker into place.

  • Make sure the position of your new breaker is off before putting it in the box.

Need-nose pilers to be used to hold wires while tighten the terminal screw.

How to Tell if a Circuit Breaker Is Bad

The insulated part of the wire should be hold with end of your pliers.

The exposed end should be put into the new terminal and use the other of your hand to screw it on.

The screw should be snug and not that so tight or you could strip it.

Turn the breaker on and then reattach the panel to breaker box.

Turn the breaker on and then reattach the panel to breaker box

Try to flip the switch of the breaker to the on position, and you should screw panel back on.

Doing so will hide the wires back again, now close the breaker box, for you to wrap up.

This is a simple tutorial by supermoonhost to teach you how to tell if a circuit breaker is bad.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *