1. Home

Discuss in my forum

How To Turn On a Circuit Breaker

By

A photo of circuit breakers.

Circuit Breakers

Photo: Timothy Thiele

Certainly at one time or another, you've had to turn on a circuit breaker. It's also likely you've had to turn one off to replace a switch or outlet, or possibly to put up a new light or ceiling fan. In any case, turning a circuit breaker on is so easy, as the Geico commercial touts, that a caveman could do it!

Electrical safety always begins with turning a circuit breaker off before performing any electrical work on a circuit or device connected to it. And, you may say, it ends when the project is completed and the circuit breaker is once again reentergized by turning the circuit breaker back on.

Circuit breakers are no more than a specialized single-pole switch. The difference being it has three states in can be in: off, on, or tripped (a sort of neutral position). Unlike a switch that is either on or off, the breakers tripped position is a state that allows the homeowner to see that a circuit error has occured.

In order to turn on a circuit breaker, simply locate the circuit breaker panel in your home or office. On the face of the panel, you'll see a door. Open that door and there will be many black circuit breakers with switch handles. These breakers will look longer than taller. The switches will be stacked in two rows from top to bottom.

The breaker switch handles are in the on position when the handles are all the way towards the center of the breaker panel. If they are positioned toward the outside of the panel, they are in the off position. The tripped state will be somewhere in the middle and to reset this state, you'll need to switch off the breaker before turning it back on.

Like I said, turning them on is no big deal, but you may want to practice a time or two just in the event you ever have to either reset a tripped breaker or turn one on. That way you'll be familiar with what a circuit breaker does and how they function as a disconnect switch. Remember, if a caveman can do it, why can't you turn on a circuit breaker?

©2014 About.com. All rights reserved.