Breaker boxes and service panels are code requirements for most homes, because they help prevent electrical issues, and safely distribute electricity throughout a home. Most breaker boxes go untouched by homeowners, but it is important to know where your breaker box is, and how to properly use it.
An issue in many homes is the labeling of a breaker box is usually unclear and can cause confusion. When you do need to use your breaker box, for an emergency, an electrical repair, or addition, it is important to know where your breakers lead to. Labeling the electric panel is pretty easy, so here are the things you need to learn to get the job done quickly.
Electrical codes require a circuit directory to be included in your circuit breaker box to properly label the electrical layout of your home. On Top of making electrical breakers easier to use, the need for electric panel labels extends deeper. The electrical code requires breakers to be properly labeled for when you decide to sell your home. The code is established to guarantee future homeowners, electrical repair technicians, and anyone that might come into contact with the circuit breaker the same level of electrical safety.
In the case of fire or flooding, turning off the master power can save lives and houses. In less extreme examples, a properly labeled box can enable you to safely install new electric devices (like a ceiling fan) or help an electrician get in and out quickly. It also doesn’t hurt for visitors, babysitters or even new owners to be able to reliably navigate the circuit breakers.
The challenge of making electric panel labels is determining which electrical outlets and fixtures are tied to a specific breaker. You can practice trial and error to figure out which electrical devices are powered by a breaker, or you could set up an easy way to determine what your circuit breakers power.
Turning on all of the lights in your home will make determining where a circuit powers much easier. After all of your lights have been switched on you can turn off all of your circuit breakers leaving your home dark. You can then go down the list determining which rooms are tied to each circuit breaker.
Major appliances, like refrigerators, air conditioners, and washer/dryer combos, will each get their own circuit breaker, and sometimes two circuit breaker slots. Large appliances get their own circuit breaker so they are not disrupted or cause power surges when they draw electricity.
Although a circuit can be tied to a specific room, sometimes wall outlets are tied to separate circuit breakers. To best determine where wall outlets are tied to, get a night light or small electronic device to test each wall outlet. You can take note of whether an outlet is tied into the same circuit breaker as the room’s lighting, or on a separate loop.
The electrical code does not have specific guidelines on how to label a circuit breaker box, but typically your unit will already have numbered slots, and a coinciding numbered list you can use for labeling. If you really want a detailed map, you can simply make a list or diagram and attach it to the breaker box. Otherwise, labeling each switch on the box by the appliance or room it controls is usually good enough.
If labeling a circuit breaker box is difficult, or you are not comfortable with the task, or there might be an electrical issue, Allgood Electric is here to help. Learn more about electrical service panel upgrades and repairs.