Breaker Box Basics: Avoiding Nasty or Life-Threatening Electrical Shocks

If you plan to remodel your house, change electrical wiring or alter your outlets or lighting, it’s important to know the basics of electrical safety. Otherwise, you could end up encountering a shock that’s painful at best and life-threatening at worst. Knowing how breaker boxes work is key to avoiding dangerous shocks.

Understanding How the Breaker Box Works

The breaker box is usually a rectangular panel that opens to reveal an array of switches. Most homes include a single breaker panel, and these can be found at various locations around a home; however, they’re often found in a garage, storage area, basement or hallway. Keep in mind, though, that a breaker box can be located almost anywhere. If you have trouble locating yours, try looking outside.

The big switch at the top controls all power in the home. The smaller switches control various electrical circuits. These smaller switches should be labeled, but if not, you can do “flip tests” to see what each switch controls.

When Should You Flip the Main Breaker?

Flipping the main breaker can help keep you safe if you need to quickly shut off all power in the house. Do this if there’s a flooding event, with standing water inside the home. Cutting all the power during a flood will help you avoid potentially nasty and even life-threatening shocks. If GVEC Home Electrician services comes to work at your home, depending on the kind of job we do, we may need to flip the main breaker. This is especially true for home-rewiring jobs or other big projects.

When Do You Need to Flip a Circuit Breaker?

Flipping one of the smaller, individual circuit breakers cuts off power to just part of the house, making this a good option for smaller projects like changing a light. However, even after flipping the breaker, you should always use a non-contact voltage tester to see if any wires in the area are live; sometimes, wires from another circuit breaker can go through unexpected spots.

Contact GVEC Home

At GVEC Home, we offer a variety of electrical, solar, and air conditioning products and services throughout South Central Texas, including installation of HVAC and solar panel systems. We’d be thrilled to answer any questions about your home’s electrical system or about any potential electrical work you may need done. To learn more, or to schedule an appointment for a free on-site quote, call us at 888-590-7773.