Breaker Box Safety For Homeowners
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The circuit breaker box in your home is the nerve center to the entire electrical system. Think of it as the main hub that controls your power in each room. If a breaker is tripped there could be any number of reasons why, but in most cases, it’s typically a harmless occurrence that can be rectified by simply flipping the switch back on.
But since the breaker box has that much command over all of that electrical current, many homeowners can start to feel intimidated about going anywhere near the thing except when they need to restore the power to one area of the home. While it’s true that the electrical system poses substantial risks if you start to mess around with it when you don’t know what you’re doing, it’s not something that you should be actively scared of.
What do we fear the most? The unknown. That might also explain why homeowners don’t feel confident flipping the circuit breakers back and forth when necessary. In an effort to shed some light on this important aspect of your home, we’re going to go over some helpful hints to educate you about the breaker box and identify some of the most important do’s and dont’s that you need to remember at all times.
A Word of Warning
Before you do anything here that involves electricity, it is absolutely imperative that you refrain from doing some types of electrical work yourself. Even if you think you have the basic know-how to empower you towards a few do-it-yourself repairs, it’s usually best to call a professional licensed electrician to diagnose and fix any problems you might have.
Not only are you risking injury (or worse in some cases) you may also be causing further damage to something that may only need a small repair. You may also be violating certain local and state codes if you attempt to do work yourself. Professional electricians already know how to remain in compliance with building laws and they can ensure that their work meets the standard criteria set forth.
Breaker Box Safety Precautions
The following are some of the most important things that you need to know about your breaker box and how you can go about maintaining a safely operational household throughout the year.
Mapping the Box
Chances are your breaker box has already been mapped but you never know with older homes, so in case you haven’t yet go take a look at what’s going on behind that circuit panel. Mapping is when you label each circuit breaker in order to tell which part of the house it controls.
If your breaker box hasn’t been diagammed yet, now is the time to get that done. You don’t want to be fumbling around with your circuit breakers the next time the power goes out in a portion of the house. It’s particularly critical if you have recently bought your home from a previous owner and no one has looked at the breaker box since you moved in.
Doing the job is pretty simple but it’s a two person operation. One of you switches each breaker on and off while the other walks around the house to record which areas are affected by the switch. When you’re all done, write in which room matches which breaker on a label next to it.
Check Out Your Panel
There have been some faulty electrical panels installed in homes throughout the years and those brands that have failed on a grand scale are no longer being manufactured for use. This is a hint for those of you living in a home that is over 30 years old, check your panel to see if it was made by companies like Zinsco, Federal Pacific, or ITE Pushmatic.
These are names you’ve probably never heard of and for good reason. They exited the marketplace due to the sale of their unreliable products which in this case had a tendency to short and catch on fire.
Even if your panel is not made by one of these companies you should examine it to see if it’s warm or hot to touch. If it is, you have a serious problem. Breaker boxes must never be hot.
Listen to Your Breakers
Though it may be an annoyance that you might rectify without a second thought, a circuit breaker being tripped is a warning sign to you about the amount of electrical plugs tied to a single circuit. If you are experiencing this problem repeatedly, you will need investigate and likely unplug something and plug back it in somewhere else.