finding what breaker serves what circuit

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The previous (original) owner of my house never labeled the circuit breakers in the breaker panel. Every time I go to change a light fixture or a receptacle, I have to go thru this trial/error process to find the breaker to shut off. Now that I'm selling the house, I'd like to have all the breakers labeled so the new owner won't have the same problems. Is there a better way to figure out what breaker serves what outlet/light/fixture/etc other than just flipping each breaker, one-at-a-time until the right circuit goes dead?
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I met an old electrician one time who used to short out the socket, and then go look and see which one tripped. I'm not sure I like that idea.
I usually plug in a radio and turn it up to max. Then when the radio goes silent, I know I've got the breaker.
--

Christopher A. Young
You can\'t shout down a troll.
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If you have a really long extension cord and a drop light, plug it into socket for testing, then run the cord to area near circuit breaker and keep trying breakers until you find the right one.
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snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

I use a really noisey hair dryer to do this. It also vibrates a lot so when you lay it on the floor you can hear the vibration throughout the whole house. I also put it on the end of an extension cord as mentioned above and only had a problem with it one time. I heard it go off and it wouldn't go back on when I reset the breaker. I had the outlet apart and was checking the exterior conduit that the circuit ran down in when the neighbor lady yelled out the window "You know your hair dryer fell out the window so I turned it off". The window was on the 3rd floor and it was on a 50' extension cord. Richard
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ROTFL I got a phone call a few weeks ago that my machine answered. My next door neighbor was leaving for wrok in the morning and he saw my passenger door ajar about an inch. He was afraid to close it, but I didn't answer the phone, and he was afraid NOT to close it. So he closed. it. Which was fine with me. I tried to imagine why I might not want it closed, and I coudln't think of one, and I guess he couldn't either.
I wonder if I had been your neighbor if I could have thought why you wanted your hair dryer running at the bottom of the wall. She yelled to you and my neighbor called me. Very good.
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wrote:

(snip)
Oh, I quite understand your neighbor's reluctance. Some people are as touchy about their cars as cowboys were about their horse, and don't want <anyone> touching them. Get hollered at a few times, and you get gunshy. Not to mention, some car alarms aren't smart enough to NOT arm with door open, and can still go off.
I have no idea what my neighbor's names or phone numbers even are. A wave while taking evening walks is the extent of our interaction.
aem sends...
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On Sun, 05 Mar 2006 14:09:16 GMT, "ameijers"

The standard joke is that one has to live in NYC to be like this.
Quite a bit different story.
One morningt I wake up to see two men standing at the foot of my bed. "Who are you?" I ask. "Who are you?" they ask. "I live here", I said. About this time I noticed that they were police, And they took my word on the I-live-here part, and they explained a bit and left. I think I didn't even have to get out of bed, but I probably followed them to lock the door.
Of course what happened is that the night before I didn't latch my front door, and it blew open by morning.
Different next door neighbor saw it open, and he called the police.

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On Sun, 05 Mar 2006 14:09:16 GMT, "ameijers"

At least they do wave. I used to live in a big city where people usually ignored each other. And ignoring is better than shooting.

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On 4 Mar 2006 19:42:58 -0800, snipped-for-privacy@gmail.com wrote:

My method involves one walkaround per breaker, rather than one for every receptacle or light,
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On Sun, 05 Mar 2006 03:27:23 GMT, "Stormin Mormon"

=============My Dad was an electrician and also used the method of just shorting out the circuit... no big deal., its quick and foolproof....
BUT honestly the last time I needed to find the correct breaker I went downstairs and the wife YELLED down the steps what light went out !
Bob G.
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I went thru this exercise a few months ago myself. It's a pain, but the trial/error method is the way to go. You'll spend an hour or so, but you'll be done with it.
g
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Right, and the labels usually can't be trusted- as the service gets updated over time, only a conscientious few bother to update the labels. I've often thought there's got to be a better way.
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turn off one breaker at a time, walk thru home, and label at outlet which breaker it is. repeat till your done
thats what a friend did, with a lael maker, its convenient but looks a little wierd
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Radio Shack sells a device that plugs into an outlet than another unit you handhold near the circuit it buzzes when near the breaker, But it is not completly accurate. Have someone in the basement flipp breakers while you are in a room with lights on and use 2 phones to talk, or yell loud.
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Label the recepticals.
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With labels that don't fall off easily. Of course, you still have to figure out which labels to use where.
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I just did the same exercise in my house. I picked up a circuot tester at Home Depot. It only works with outlets, but it works great. You plug a device into the outlet you want to identify. Then you go to the breaker panel and run a wand down the circuits. When you hit the right one, it the wand starts beeping. This is SO much better than the old way! Saved hours, and did a much more thorough job. My old house had a number of funky wiring combinations (never knew the master bath was on the same cicuit as the garage lights) that would have taken a while to figure out without this device.
They have also updated it since I bought mine to make it easier to use. Here's the link: http://www.homedepot.com/prel80/HDUS/EN_US/diy_main/pg_diy.jsp?CNTTYPE=PROD_META&CNTKEY=misc%2fsearchResults.jsp&BV_SessionID=@@@@1679785934.1141534507@@@@&BV_EngineIDcgaddhehjjdiecgelceffdfgidgml.0&MID76
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Then you walk back and move the device to the next outlet. Repeat for EACH outlet. For mapping the whole panel, it'd be more walking than turning off each breaker (1 at a time) and checking the outlets.

In my house, the receptacle behind the refrigerator is on the same circuit as the main bathroom light. I never expected that.

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Ken wrote:

You certainly have to do testing, but you need to do it logically. Start with the large breakers first and work to the smaller ones. You do not turn one breaker off and then look for the circuit, you start with all breakers off and then turn one breaker on and test. The largest breakers will generally be a single appliance, such as electric furnace, A/C, electric stove, electric clothes dryer, dish washer, etc. When you get to the 15A breakers, you will likely be dealing with lights and outlets and these will usually be grouped in an area, e.g., bedroom, or bedrooms, bathroom, outside, etc.
So. Flip the biggest breaker to on and go look for the biggest appliance and turn it on to see if that is the appliance until you find the appliance that goes on. When you get to the 15A breakers outlets, all you need is a small lamp, flip the breaker and then insert the plug in every socket until you find one and then try all the sockets in the general area, and flip switches for lights. Flip that breaker off, turn another on, and proceed with testing. Depending on the size of the house, it won't take that long.
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On Sun, 05 Mar 2006 05:19:48 GMT, "George E. Cawthon"

Either way would work. Starting with all on would leave things working most of the time.

I've seen 15A breakers, but this house doesn't have any. All the 120V breakers are 20A. Then there's the 240V breakers, 3 30A and 1 50A.

You may have receptacles and lights on the same breaker.

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