I want to identify a circuit breaker for a disconnected stove in my main
panel (looks like # 6 red and black wires). This is a large house and the
main panel is a maze of wires and breakers (200 A service).
How can I tell which breaker controls this particular circuit? Can I just
turn off the main switch, short-circuit the wires, and turn the main on
again? Will this damage the Main breaker?
Thanks for your help
It might just burn down your house, or seriously damage your wiring. Best
not to short circuit anything.
To find a circuit the cheap and easy way, find a friend, plug a light in the
socket, and have your friend tell you when it goes on (or off) when you flip
the breakers or pull the fuses, one at a time of course.
No light, or it's a 220v circuit, you can do the same thing, but instead use
a tester, which can be bought for about $10 at Sears. It's the size of a
thick pen, and there are no contacts. You simply hold it close to the
socket, and when there's power running to it, it lights up and beeps. This
is also a good tool to verify a circuit is dead before fiddling with it, in
case you need to replace a switch or a socket in the future.
If this is an old house, and/or you don't know exactly what you are doing, I
strongly recommend you find an experienced electrician to do your electrical
work. It is depressingly easy to get thrown across the room or killed.
Or if you don't have a friend, use a radio turned up loud. BTW either
way always turn it back on to verify it, then off again. I was once
depending on this idea and had the light bulb burn out at the wrong time.
It was interesting and it taught me to always double check.
Most of the existing replies seem to be ignoring/ignorant of the fact that
the OP is talking about a STOVE with #6 wires. There's no way to plug in a
light, radio, etc. etc or even use a Radio Shack circuit tracer without more
work and risk than the OP should take, if he's asking this question.
Simple answer: As someone else pointed out, it will be a large, double-pole
breaker. You can immediately rule out all the single-pole breakers. Then,
follow the following steps:
1) Turn off Main
2) Separate the wires, making sure you have two exposed bare ends (but not
3) Turn on main, and with a neon tester (cheap $3 gizmo available anywhere)
confirm there is power on the wires. This will also ensure you're using the
tester properly (If no power now -- STOP, you're either doing something
wrong, or the wire is disconnected from the panel.
4) Now, turn off all double-pole breakers. Confirm there is NOT power at
the wires. (If there is STOP).
5) Now, turn on each double-pole breaker one by one until the tester lights
up. That's your breaker.
Works best with 2 people within hollering distance (or cell phones/etc) but
can be done with one person if you don't mind many trips back and forth to
This is the cheapest safe method to do the job. It's very safe if you
follow the above exactly and never touch the wires unless you've confirmed
they are dead with the tester (even then, avoid touching them).
I wouldn't short circuit anything. You could plug a light bulb in to
check the circuit, 2 bulbs for 220.
Easier is to go to Radio shack or Home Depot and buy a circuit tracer.
Plug the transmitter module into the circuit and the reciever will show
you which wire and which breaker correspond.
Free men own guns, slaves don\'t
Cheaper than a signal tracer is a multimeter. simply set its dial for AC
volts and toutch the wires to measure the voltage. Turn off a breaker and
see if the voltage went to 0V. If it did, you turned off the right one.
Alternatively to a voltmeter, there are non contact voltage probes (probably
also at RS but many other places too) and you just wave it near a wire and
if it buzzes the wire is live.
Both the probe or the meter can be bought for less than $20 and sometimes
Also something that i didn't know was code legal until recently.
I used to think that all wires in a junction box had to be on the same
(or tied) circuit. I've since been told that that is not the case.
(not that i've witnessed an example, other than in sub/main
panels... but it's good to keep this in mind.) I'd be interested in
where this rule might be excepted/limited/stated (if it is explicitly
stated) if anyone with a NEC book is feeling generous.
So make sure to check *all* wires in that junction box. before working
Also good to lock out the main panel, or at least put up a note... in
case someone else is around that might flip the breaker back on (or
re-insert the fuse).
Ich habe keine Ahnung was das bedeutet, oder vielleicht doch?
(Because it's been a month since this post was posted, I "quote"
the whole history that *this* post had.)
But that scheme requires that you sequentually, randomly, or with some
good guessing, do this for each circuit-breaker, ie turn if off, do
test, then turn back on --
you must first turn off all computers and similar devices, else you
can blow the hard-disks, especially those that were being written-to
when you switched off "its" breaker.
The prior-prior post's suggestion of the (more expensive) RS 2-part
device sure sounds simple, even foolproof!
Having never seen such a device, please tell me, is that true?
What's the downside of that clever-sounding device?
(Before I go off and *buy* one!)
If it was a 120 volt circuit I'd just plug a radio into it with the
volume cranked up so I could hear it go quiet when I flipped the correct
But, since it's a stove circuit, you'd have to jury rig an outlet
between one of the hot leads and ground or neutral, and giving advice
like that to someone who asked the question the way he did isn't wise. <G>
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