You need to know the telephone number of a qualified electrician. I'm not
trying to be a wise ass. This is a relatively simple operation for someone
who knows what they are doing. Since you have to ask, I can only assume
that you have no experience working on live circuits. There is a lot of
danger inside of an electrical panel. Without actually seeing the age and
condition of it, I could not say with certainty that it would be easy or
safe. By opening up the electrical panel you could be "Opening up a can of
Step 1 - Disconnect the power going into the electrical panel. You can do
this by removing the electric meter or if there is a main circuit breaker
before the electrical panel. You can shut off the main breaker inside of
the electrical panel, but the top of the main and its feed conductors will
still be hot.
Step 2 - Remove the cover to the electrical panel. This procedure varies
according to the age and the manufacturer of the panel.
Step 3 - Remove wire from the circuit breaker to be replaced. There is
usually a set screw for this.
Step 4 - Remove circuit breaker. This varies according to age and
manufacturer of the electrical panel. Usually in a residence they would
just pull out from the center bus bar, however some manufacturers have
breakers that are actually screwed to the busbar.
Step 5 - Put in the new circuit breaker. It should be one that is approved
for use in your panel. In your case I suggest that you stick with the same
manufacturer of the panel.
Side bar - Whenever I open up an electrical panel I check all of the set
screws to make sure that they are tight. That includes the circuit
breakers, the neutral bar, and the ground bar. I also tighten down the
mains coming from the meter. Aluminum wiring tends to loosen up over time.
Do not overtighten. You might strip the set screws. Just make sure that
they are good and snug.
Step 6 - Put the cover back on the electrical panel carefully so as to not
pinch any wires.
Step 7 - Turn the power back on. When I do this I usually turn my head away
in case something does arc. It is not a good idea to get hot metal
exploding in your face.
Once again I am not recommending that you do this. Call a pro.
I remember many years ago I got an emergency service call. A retired
gentleman who used to be an electrician attempted to replace a circuit
breaker in his electrical panel. When I got there, after the paramedics had
left, I found the panel cover off and a screwdriver welded to the busbar
inside. Somehow he shorted his screwdriver across the two phases and it
exploded in his face. He came out okay with some burn marks on his face and
hands. The inside of his electrical panel was destroyed and had to be
replaced. The fuses on the utility company's transformer had blown thereby
killing power to most of his neighbors and to a traffic light. I hope that
you have better luck.
Other posters have given good advice, but they both omitted the same thing.
STEP ONE, before turning off the power, is:
Get a flashlight, and a helper to hold it for you.
Doug Miller (alphageek-at-milmac-dot-com)
Save the baby humans - stop partial-birth abortion NOW
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