A Step-by-Step Guide to Safely Resetting Your Breakers

  • August 03, 2015

If a circuit overloads or shorts, the breaker will trip and cut power to prevent fire and possible electrocution. Resetting a breaker is simple, if you know how, and will restore power to the room or rooms affected if there isn’t an outage.

1. Light Switches

Turn off light switches and unplug appliances in all rooms that have lost power.

2. Locate Circuit Breaker

Find your circuit breaker box and open the cover.

3. Locate the Tripped Breaker

Circuit breakers are small, usually horizontal switches and may be labeled (e.g., “kitchen,” “bathroom” etc.).The tripped circuit breaker will be in the “off” position or in a middle position between “on” and “off.”

4. Reset the Breaker

Move the breaker to the full “off” position and then back to “on.” That should clear an overload and return power to the room.

5. Breaker Re-trips 

If the breaker re-trips, it could be for a number of reasons: too many lamps and appliances plugged into the circuit; a damaged cord or plug; a short circuit in a receptacle, switch or fixture; or faulty wiring.

6. Troubleshooting

Identify and fix problems before finally resetting the breaker.
 

Tips & Warnings

  • If a breaker continues to re-trip, reset it only when you’ve corrected the problem, or call an electrician.
  • Most tripped breakers are easily identified by an orange flag that appears when a breaker is in the tripped position.
  • If your home has fuses instead of circuit breakers, follow the same steps for finding the blown fuse, then replace it with a new one of the same amperage.
  • When resetting a breaker use only one hand and stand to the side to avoid electrical arcing if the breaker should malfunction.
  • Working with electrical systems is potentially dangerous. If you’re unsure of your abilities or about any aspect of the job, call an electrician.

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