Changing Out a Circuit Breaker- DIY

The circuit breaker that controls our upstairs AC unit kept tripping this summer. It’s not a great feeling to come home and your bedroom is 90 degrees! After the 5th time of it tripping over a month’s time period, Stephen decided to get it replaced.

He got a couple of electrician quotes, which were in the range of 2-3 hundred dollars. Stephen decided to “research” (ahem, YouTube) some how-to videos to see how hard it would be to do it himself. And… for a total of $22… he did it!

**I CAN’T STRESS THIS ENOUGH! If you decide to do this, please, please do your research! I’m going to share the basics of what we did, but there are more details that you’d need to know for your specific home.

The first, and MOST important step is to turn off the power to your ENTIRE home. Don’t try to just to the part of your home where the electrical panel is. Do it all!

Second: invest in an AC voltage detector! This cost us $10 at Lowes. It’s a pen-shaped device that you can use to touch wires to see if there is any power going through them. If the light turns colors and beeps, the power is on. If it doesn’t, the power is off.

First tip: put some masking tape over the problematic breaker. Once you remove the metal panel, the labels will go away, so this will help you remember the exact breaker.

Unscrew the metal case and remove it. This is heavier than you think it will be, so having a second person is helpful.
We checked all of the wires to make sure all of the power was off. For our pen, a green light means you’re good to go!
The breaker itself clicks in and out. Just a couple of angled tugs will pull the bad breaker out!
Make sure the replacement breaker is the exact breaker as the original. This cost us $12 at Lowes!
I had to hold the wires while Stephen did this next step and couldn’t take a pic, but these screws were where the black and white wires were screwed into the breaker. You unscrew the screws to loosen them and pull the wires out. I held them to make sure they went back in the same place.
You insert the wires and screw them into place.
You pop the breaker into place.
Screw the panel back on.
Once everything is back into place, you can turn the power back on! $22 and about 30 minutes, and we are in good shape!

This worked out great for us, and saved us hundreds of dollars! Just be diligent if you decide to do this on your own and do your research!


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