# Circuit Decoding?

• posted on January 4, 2010, 5:52 am

I'm trying to determine which circuits are controlled by which circuit breakers on a sub-division home built in Southern California in 1980. I want to minimize the process of shutting off one circuit at a time and then walking around checking lights and wall outlets. I'm hoping some experienced house construction electricians can make my task easier using the information provided below.
There are two black toggles, mechanically linked, with the label 125 amps.
There are two black toggles, independent of each other, with the labels 50 amps.
There are two green toggles, independent of each other, with the labels 30 amps.
There is a single black toggle with the label 20 amps.
There are four red toggles, independent of each other, with the labels 20 amps.
There is a single black toggle with the label 15 amps.
There are four blue toggles, independent of each other, with the labels 15 amps.
There are cryptic handwritten letters (perhaps remnants of faded words) like R, V, Fau, and DG next to some of the circuit breakers.
Ideas?
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CWLee
Former slayer of dragons; practice now limited to sacred
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• posted on January 4, 2010, 6:12 am
CWLee wrote:

breaker with tone. no need to turn off anything. (its a radio signal that travels from the outlet, back to the breaker) about \$40
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• posted on January 4, 2010, 6:22 am
CWLee wrote:

In the half hour since you posted your message, you could already have figured out pretty much all of the branch routing using nothing more than a radio (or a lamp) and a flashlight.
Jon
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• posted on January 4, 2010, 12:14 pm

From your post the only thing I can tell is that the panel was made by Zinsco or Bryant. The 2-50 amp breakers should be tied together so they trip simultaneously. They probably feed an electric range. The 2-30 amp breakers should also be tied together. They probably feed an electric dryer. While there are tools designed to make this process easy, I personally have never been successful using one, so I just run around with a test light or radio and flip breakers

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• posted on January 4, 2010, 12:28 pm

do this when wife or GF isnt home to minimze complaints.
a buddy of mine added labels to every switch and outlet with a breaker number.
myself I would of written the number on the back side of the covers, he put the labels on the outside, i think it looks tacky.
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• posted on January 4, 2010, 6:24 pm
The 50 amp breakers, probably hot tub, or electric range. 30 is often water heater, or dryer. Either could be the outdoor unit for the AC.
As to the others, the usual way to trace sockets is either with a tracer (Harbor Freight, \$20 or so). Or, you can plug in a radio and turn it up loud. Go see which breaker turns off the radio. As to the lights, having a buddy and a couple walkie talkies is very helpful.
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Christopher A. Young
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• posted on January 4, 2010, 10:38 pm
Stormin Mormon wrote:

Or cell phones...
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• posted on January 5, 2010, 12:53 am
CWLee wrote:

You're too lazy to hook up a light bulb and throw the switch.
You're gonna trust your safety...you're gonna risk DEATH by relying on input from someone who has never seen your house??? You're gonna risk DEATH on ANYTHING you get off the internet.
NEVER, EVER, DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT believing a circuit is OFF without TESTING IT, EVERY TIME, no matter what is written on the panel and ESPECIALLY based on some input from the internet.
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• posted on January 5, 2010, 1:15 am

How stupid are you?
The guy was obviously just asking for advice on narrowing his search. The size of the breakers is something that the average home owner does not have to know.
You seem to think the OP was just going to label the panel without doing any tests. It is smart to ask for advice. He has been given good solid advice on how to narrow his search.
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• posted on January 6, 2010, 8:06 am
As the OP on this thread I'd like to thank Larry, RBM, Hallerb, Stormin, HeyBub, and Metspitzer for your courteous, rational, and constructive replies.
I was aware of the tracing techniques mentioned, but I don't plan to use them until we return to Daylight Time, or there is a local power outage. My home has 3 computers that are always on, a dozen or more electric clocks and timers, and several other electric devices, all spread over two floors and a dozen rooms, that are a pain to reset twice a year and whenever there is a power failure. By waiting until then I can save myself one round of resetting.
The links to electric ranges, electric dryers, and hot tubs are useful. My water heater is gas, and I don't have AC, so those ideas aren't immediately useful.
Thanks again.
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• posted on January 6, 2010, 4:23 pm

I would put most of those on UPS, power failures and brownouts are tough on computers.
UPSs are pretty cheap today, at least for short outages.
next power failure is the time to do all your testing, since you will have to reset everything anyway
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• posted on January 6, 2010, 9:40 pm
Computers not on UPSes? tsk, tsk.
seriously, I wouldn't be without one, did it for years but eventually had to buy a new computer because the OS got corrupted due to constant rebooting due to power dropping out for a few seconds all the time. (I could have fixed it but it was old and not worth it.) If you really leave your computer on all the time, it's a worthwhile investment. (also, when I am working on the electric in a room with a computer, I can just run an extension cord to another circuit, unplug the UPS, plug into extension cord. Done.)
n

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• posted on January 7, 2010, 1:27 am
CWLee posted for all of us...

Yeah, Google it. It has been discussed a bazillion times. Geez
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Tekkie Don't bother to thank me, I do this as a public service.