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Signs You Need to Replace Your Circuit Breaker

Jul 29, 2022



Circuit breakers are an important part of your home. Their job is to control the electricity that powers everything in your house from overhead lights to toasters. When the power goes out in a room, for example, flipping the corresponding switch on your circuit breaker should bring it back online. 


Circuit breakers are typically housed in a single box somewhere in your home. This is usually a basement, utility closet, or garage. They’re usually placed in low-traffic areas and are recessed into the wall with a metal door to cover them when they’re not in use.


As with everything else in your home, circuit breakers sometimes require attention, maintenance, or replacement.

Why Should You Replace Your Circuit Breaker?

Most circuit breakers are built to last a very long time and shouldn’t need to be replaced that often. However, when a circuit breaker does need to be replaced, it’s crucial to replace it as soon as possible and with a professional electrician. 


Sometimes, the electrical problems in your home may be caused by outside forces, like a downed power line or damage to a local power generator. There’s no need to replace anything if your electrical problems aren’t caused by your circuit breaker. However, if the problem is the breaker, it might be time for a replacement to avoid bigger, costlier, and potentially more dangerous problems in the future.

Signs You Need to Replace Your Circuit Breaker

How can you know if something’s wrong with your circuit breaker – enough that it might need to be replaced? Here are some of the most common signs of trouble.

Your Breaker Trips Frequently

A breaker that “trips” means that a fault in a specific electrical area has activated an automatic shut-off safety mechanism to prevent overheating and causing a possible fire hazard. You’ll know when this has happened because a switch in your breaker box will be flipped to the “off” position. Simply flipping the switch back on usually brings the power back online. But if a particular switch keeps tripping, it may be a sign that something’s wrong.

Electrical Appliances or Light Fixtures Aren’t Working Well

If you’ve checked that the switch hasn’t been tripped and you know that everything is plugged in and turned on, it might be a problem with the circuit breaker. Lack of power can be caused by any number of factors in your circuit breaker, including loose screws, wiring, or connectors at any of the points between your circuit breaker and the outlet.

The Breaker Won’t Stay in Reset Mode

Sometimes a tripped breaker won’t flip back to the “on” position. The switch may refuse to move past the midway point or feel too loose. Don’t try to force it back into position! When this is the case, your entire breaker may need to be replaced.

Physical Damage

Physical damage to your circuit breaker is usually easy to spot:


  • Scorch marks
  • Cracks
  • Broken parts
  • Any other obvious physical damage

Note that if you see scorch marks, this may indicate a melted wire. Turn off all power to your house immediately and call a professional electrician. 

Burning Smells

The smell of something burning in your home is never a good sign. If you smell something burning and trace it to your circuit breaker, it could be burning wire insulation, an improperly connected wire, or it could be that the breaker itself is faulty, causing it to overheat and possibly melt.


Don’t wait to find the source. When you smell burning coming from your circuit breaker, quickly turn off all your appliances, then cut power to your circuit breaker, and call a professional electrician immediately.

Your Breaker is Old

Circuit breakers are designed to last at least 25 years, and sometimes last up to 40 years. If your circuit breaker is old but working fine, it doesn’t need to be replaced. If you’re unsure, have it checked and tested by a qualified electrician. 

How to Replace a Circuit Breaker

Before you pay to replace your circuit breaker, test it to see if it’s still working properly. Try resetting the circuits. Test the switches. Does your breaker look intact and show no visible damage? Is there no trace of a burning smell? Sometimes a problem can be solved by simply turning the breaker off and then back on.


However, if you’ve tried everything but you still aren’t getting full power to your appliances, or a switch (or switches) keeps tripping, it’s time to call a professional. Replacing a circuit breaker yourself is not advisable. Only a professional can replace your circuit breaker safely.

Call CroppMetcalfe to Replace Your Circuit Breaker

For the best circuit breaker testing, repair, and replacement, call the 5-Star Technicians at CroppMetcalfe today. Our qualified technicians are trained and certified to handle any electrical problem you may have. We’re always ready to help, whether it’s to inspect your old circuit breaker or to handle a circuit breaker emergency. Don’t wait, call us today at 888-250-6809 or fill out our convenient online contact form. We’re ready to help you!



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