A circuit breaker protects your home's electrical wiring system from damage by breaking the current when it becomes overloaded. Although an electrical fault may trip the breaker, the unit itself can become faulty and this can leave you without electricity on the affected circuit. Know how to establish whether the breaker is faulty, and understand how to source a replacement component, before you learn how to repair a breaker.
How to Establish Whether a Breaker is Faulty
To decide whether you need to replace a circuit breaker, identify the problem. If the breaker switch no longer works or if the circuit remains switched off with the switch in the on position, it is probably broken. If the breaker keeps tripping, several electrical problems may be the cause. Wiring faults and faulty sockets require the services of a professional electrician. If a circuit keeps tripping, unplug all the appliances and switch off all the lights on that circuit. If the breaker still trips, chances are you are dealing with a wiring fault and you need the help of an electrician. If the breaker does not trip, have someone stand by the board while you plug each appliance back in and switch on each light. If the breaker trips as soon as you plug in a specific appliance or switch on a particular light, there is a problem with the appliance or light fitting and not with the breaker. Do not overload the breaker by using too many multiplugs.
How to Buy the Correct Replacement Breaker
To find an identical replacement breaker, check the make of the circuit breaker panel and the other breakers. Match the replacement unit to the faulty unit. Circuit breakers are available from a variety of manufacturers including Crabtree, Hager, and Wylex. Because the breaker protects your electrical wiring system from overloading, the proper amp rating of breakers is crucial. Check the amp rating on the breaker and ensure that the replacement breaker has an identical rating. Different types of breakers clip in and out in different ways, so research the type of breaker to establish how to place and remove it.
How to Replace a Breaker
Turn off the mains power supply and remove the cover of the consumer unit. Check the voltage on the breaker with a voltmeter to make sure no live current is flowing. Loosen the top and bottom wires entering the circuit breaker and unclip the unit. Install the new circuit breaker by attaching the top and bottom wires and clipping the device into place. Ensure that you properly tighten the screws holding the wires in place before replacing the board cover. Loose wires can cause arcing and electrical fires. If you are not confident of your electrical repair skills, contact a qualified electrician to replace the breaker.