Find the Right Breaker

Every electrical job contains the same warning upfront — turn off the circuit breaker before starting the job.    However, many breaker boxes are poorly labeled and homeowners have to find the right breaker before they can continue the work.   In case you don’t know which breaker to turn off, you can find the right breaker in two ways: (1) trial and error or (2) use an electronic tracing tool. 

If you use the trial and error method, you go to the breaker box and turn off one of the breakers, then go back and check the light or fan or outlet to see if it still works.  If it does, you didn’t get the right breaker and need to try it again.  Keep trying until you find it.   This is easier with two people if you have someone to help.

Electronic circuit breaker locating tools are available and they make it easy to find the right breaker quickly.  These tools can be purchased starting around $20 and are very handy for a homeowner who likes to do their own simple electrical jobs safely.  This image shows one example of a locating tool among the many you can find online and in stores.

You use the tool by plugging the transmitter into the outlet and then going to the breaker box.   Hold the button and point the receiver at each circuit breaker in turn until the receiver alerts you with a noise or a blinking light.   When you see that alert, the know the breaker you are pointing to is on the same circuit as the transmitter, and that is the breaker you should switch off.  Most of these kits come with an adapter that is threaded like the base of a light bulb so that you can plug the transmitter into the adapter and then screw it into a light socket.

When you need to find the right breaker, either of these methods will work.  After you find it, be sure to label the breaker so that you don’t have to locate it again in the future.   If you also mark the outlet-fan-light with the circuit number, it will be much easier for anyone to find it in the future.  One good idea is to mark the breaker number on the inside of each outlet cover for speedy identification.

If you have any electrical questions, please contact us.   Frye Electric has been a trusted local contractor for over 50 years, and we guarantee your satisfaction with our work.

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