Turn on all your appliances - lamps, TV's, etc.
Flip all the breakers off in your house.
Then flip one on. See what comes back on and label the breaker. Repeat until
Seems to be a quicker solution than trial and error.
On Sun, 5 Mar 2006 07:56:25 -0500, "Kyle Boatright"
And have a tester or small, portable appliance ready for testing
receptacles not normally used.
Remember that modern electronic appliances (like that TV?) might not
come on until you use THEIR controls.
I did it the other way - start with all on, then turn one off. Either
would seem to work. The above could be an advantage of doing so.
I tried the "trial and error" method once. It was mostly error since
the other person wasn't cooperative.
I'm sure you are sincerely posting what you read somewhere, but it's
very unlikely that Franklin said this. It doesn't have the ring of
something he said, or of any other writer of the 18th century.
It's not listed in Bartlett's Franklin Quotation (1919), I'm told,
And I'm also told that the word lunch did not exist until after
Frankln. My Merriam Webster's dictionary confirms this and dates it
A friend sends me a lot of email with false quotations, allegations of
things that never happened, and allegations of things said or done
that did happen but which were said or done by those of one political
leaning, and attributed falsely to politicians or other well known
people of an opposite leaning. It seems in my experience that when
the person lived in the 20th century, it is alway Democrats and
liberals about whom these false statements are made.
It hurts the reputation of Replublicans and conservatives that they
are it seems always the bearer of these false statements, and it would
help their reputation if they would verify this stuff before repeating
posted and mailed.
Remove NOPSAM to email me. Please let
me know if you have posted also.
The trial and error way is about the only way. There
are some good suggestions about ways to do it in the
One thing you might want to do is to make a sketch plan
of your house, and mark all the outlets, lights and such
on the sketch, with the breaker for each one. That way
when you see a breaker labeled "Living Room" you can
tell that it is the outlets on the East wall, not the
Post the sketch in or adjacent to the breaker box and
you can glance at it and know which breaker to turn off.
After that check to make sure it is dead before you
start working on it.
I used such a map. One reason is to make sure I checked EVERY outlet.
The Living Room may be on 2 or 3 different circuits. It doesn't work
to test one outlet, and assume the others are on the same circuit.
A breaker usually will serve more than one light/outlet.
Turn on all the lights. Plug something into as many outlets as
you can; nightlights, the like, radio, whatever.
Make a sketch of the whole house showing lights/outlets.
Turn off a breaker. Go see what's not working, mark it on the
sktech. If an outlet doesn't have something plugged into it,
find something to test it with to see if it's off.
Usually lights and outlets aren't on the same breaker, but you
never know. Now you can eliminate those lights/outlets from the
Turn that breaker back on, turn the next one off.
Repeat. You'll quickly see a pattern to what's being turned off
and after a few breakers the job gets pretty easy.
You can buy a circuit breaker tracer at a hardware store for about $30.
It has two parts. One part plugs into the wall socket. The other
part you place along the side of each circuit breaker until it indicates
the breaker which controls that wall socket. For light fixtures which
use screw-in bulbs, you can use an adapter.
If you're selling the house, why bother? Let the new owner do it.
There are several different brands of tester which do what you describe.
In fact your local borg probably has at least one of them hanging on the
peg right now. This unit is one of the best but is rather expensive IIRC
but I'll include the page for reference anyway:
You're doing it backwards. You don't need to find out which breaker
serves a specific fixture, you need to find out which fixtures are
served by each breaker. Turn off all the breakers except one. Walk
around the house and see what's on. Repeat for each breaker.
Now, how do you test each fixture? First leave everything on that can
be, like lights. For outlets, get one of those "pen" type testers that
you don't need to plug in. HD has a cheap Greenlee device. It senses
AC line voltage when its tip comes close to a live connection. I had
to map out a junction box with about two dozen wires in it. I don't
think I would have survived the experience if I'd had to disconnect
(or *cut*) each wire to see which ones were live.
A radio is your friend. Plug it into each outlet in the house and
find out which breaker turns it off. To check lights you need a
helper to hollar when the light goes off. (unless you want to unscrew
lightbulbs and put a screw in outlet in the socket to plug the radio).
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