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It’s Electric!

Let’s talk about the daunting gray metal box in your home. Most of us are unfamiliar with it and therefore become flustered when reading it. It is time to explain the electrical panel so you can use it when the time presents itself.

The Breaker Box

electrical services - tech working on home

This is that mysterious gray metal box. It can usually be found in the utility room, garage, basement, hall closet, or laundry room. If you can’t find it indoors, it might be outside!

The Labels

Open the breaker box cover and find two columns of switches. Don’t panic! Each switch sends power to a specific circuit in your house. Usually these circuits are already labeled when the original wiring was done in your house toavoid confusion down the road.

If the switches were not labeled, you will have to test and label them for future reference. Labeling is important because it makes it easy to tell which switches to turn on and off if one of the circuits trips or if you need to shut it off while you wait for a Campbell and Company electrician to do a repair.

To label your switches, you will have to use the age old guess and check method. First, switch off all but one of the circuits. Then walk through your house and figure out which lights and outlets still work. Bring something portable that you can plug into the outlets (like a phone charger) to determine which works. Once you determine the room on the circuit, go label the switch. Larger appliances might have their own switch. You will have to repeat this process until they’re all labeled.

If your panel has anything labeled, it’s likely for your large appliances. When you switch off a breaker and discover only the stove doesn’t work, you’ve found a dedicated circuit. Need a little help figuring out which dedicated circuit goes to which location? Check the amperage (amp) rating of the circuit. This is indicated by the number on the circuit toggle lever or nearby.

Here are some common amp ratings for various appliances or devices:

  • Kitchen outlets: 20-amp
  • Range/oven/cooktop: 30-, 40-, or 50-amp
  • Dryer: 30-amp
  • Garage outlets: 20-amp
  • Laundry outlet/washer: 20-amp
  • Lighting, general receptacles, and probably everything else: 15-amp
  • Keep in mind, some large amp appliances may require more than one breaker. 

Labeling your electrical panel before there’s an emergency can save you lots of time plus a huge headache. It may not be the most fun job, but it will certainly pay off in the end.

Resetting a Tripped Circuit Breaker

What is happening when a circuit breaker trips? Well, too much electricity traveled through that circuit at once. In order to reset this, you have to find the circuit that isn’t aligned with the rest. Switch it to the off position, pause, and switch it back to on. The lights or appliances should start working again.

If the breaker continuously trips, you might have too many high-powered appliances on that same circuit that need to be relocated. If you can’t relocate anything, you might look into options for upgrading your electrical panel so more electricity can flow on each circuit.  The experienced electricians at Campbell & Company will be TRIPPING over themselves to come help you!

If you still find yourself puzzled with the gray box or want to schedule an electrical system upgrade, give us a call at Campbell & Company today!

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