How To Reset A Circuit Breaker
A circuit breaker is one of the single best safety features in the modern home. But when a breaker blows, not everyone knows how to turn this hassle into a quick fix.
A blown breaker is something that’s happened to everyone, usually more than a few times. Something causes a power surge, and you hear a pop. The lights go out in all or part of your house. Appliances go dark. One or two items might beep in complaint as they lose power. The good news is that most blown circuits are easy to reset.
Today, we’ll walk you through the short and long of resetting your circuit breaker so your lights come back and your day can continue without worries.
Quick Answer: How to Reset a Circuit Breaker
If you’re here for a fast answer on circuit breakers, here’s the quick and straightforward solution to your question.
To reset a circuit breaker:
- Open your breaker box
- Find the breaker that is not flipped the same way as all the others
- Switch it to “off” (opposite direction from the other breakers)
- Switch it to “on” (aligned with the other breakers)
If all goes according to plan, your lights should come right back on. If this didn’t enlighten your situation, scroll down to the step-by-step instructions for resetting your circuit breaker.
What Causes Breakers to Blow
If you don’t want this to become a constant battle with the breaker box, it helps to know why breakers blow.
A circuit breaker is a surprisingly simple piece of equipment that protects your home from fires, equipment damage, and permanent power loss. When too much electricity surges through one of your home circuits, the “breaker” disconnects or breaks the connection so that the circuit isn’t damaged. No fried wires, no smoking computers or exploded light bulbs.
That said, it’s relatively easy to blow a breaker.
- Surge of power down the external line
- Lightning strike
- Damage to power lines or equipment
- Running too much power through a circuit
- Overload from vacuum or microwave
- Power surge from a faulty appliance
- Too many things plugged on one circuit
Resetting a Circuit Breaker Step by Step
Now for the long answer. If you’re unsure where to start, we can walk you through resetting your blown breaker step by step.
Find Your Breaker Box
The first step is to find the breaker box. This is not always easy, but there is always at least one breaker box for every house – usually indoors. It will look like a closed metal rectangle, typically taller than wide, made of sealed but usually unpainted metal. When you open it, you will see one or two columns of clunky black switches – your breakers.
Look in your utility areas first – near the water heater, the washer-dryer, or the utility closet. You may find the breaker box in the garage or tucked into the side of a closet. It can be above your head or below your knees but is usually at about chest height. If you can’t find it indoors, check around the side of your house just in case.
Identify the Flipped Breaker
Once you have found your breaker box and opened it, the flipped breaker should be obvious. Look for the one switch that isn’t facing the same direction as the others. Sometimes, there is a red indicator showing switches that are not connected. This switch will likely be pointing toward the center instead of to either side. The center is the ‘error’ position.
Switch It Off and Back On
Reset the one (or more) breaker that is blown by first switching it to the “off” position. This provides the reset state to make it safe to switch your breaker back on. Wait for a second or two, then firmly switch the breaker to the “on” position.
This means pushing it in the opposite direction of the other switches, then back in the same direction. If you’re not sure about “on” and “off” (or if all your lights went out at once), use a flashlight to look closely at the switches and make sure first to switch “off” and then back “on” again.
Test Your Success
Once the breaker is reset, your lights should come back on. Walk around your house testing switches, outlets, and appliances to ensure nothing was damaged and that power is fully restored to your house.
What to Do if a Breaker is Really Blown
What if resetting the circuit breaker didn’t fix your power? In this case, your breaker may have really “blown.” A breaker box is an upgrade to the old-fashioned fuse box. Fuses used to blow and need replacing, while resettable breakers are a technological improvement. However, too much of a power surge can fully blow your breaker, and you will need a new breaker installed before power is fully restored to your house.
Should a breaker blow in your home, we know this can be an unsafe and unwelcoming experience. As a family-owned business of 50 years, we know just how frustrating a blown breaker can really be. Contact us today for the timely and professional breaker replacement service your home needs. We’ll have your lights and appliances back on in no time.