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Get to Know Your Electrical Panel in 4 Simple Steps

As you begin your familiarization process with your electrical panel, you may be wondering what a panel even does and why it’s so important.

Your panel (or fuse box) is the heart of your electrical system. It controls the electricity coming into your home while also sending electricity to each circuit within your home. Your breaker is located in the electrical panel and it regulates the electricity that passes through it. More specifically, the breakers that are attached to each circuit regulate the amount of electricity, or AMPS. If a problem arises such as an overloaded circuit, the breaker will trip, preventing any electricity flowing into that circuit. As soon as the issue is resolved, you can turn the breaker on to enable the electricity to flow throughout the circuit again.

Many of us have mastered the art of “multi-tasking” when it comes to house chores. Does vacuuming while blow drying your hair and making a smoothie sound familiar? You know who you are. While we all think it’s pretty awesome that you somehow manage to fix your hair while vacuuming, chances are that you have or will trip a circuit or blow a fuse.

Electrical Panel

image source: wikihow

If you do trip a circuit or blow a fuse, you’ll want to follow these steps in order to restore power back into your home:

  1. Find your electrical panel Your panel is going to be located in a fairly unused area of your home, but not so out of reach that you have to go looking in crawl spaces and getting dirty to find it. Most likely, it will be in a closet, laundry room, basement, or garage. It is usually a gray box, but it may have been painted over to blend better with the wall. If you have looked high and low with no success, your box may be outside your home, which is more common in newer homes. Take a walk around the exterior of your house.
  2. Be careful when dealing with electricity, always use caution. If this is your first time dealing with a fuse box or circuit breaker, it is recommended that you have a trained electrician walk you through the process. This is not for children. If you have lost power and there is water coming into your home, stay away from anything electrical, especially your panel. Call an electrician.
  3. Label your circuits – You may have more than one electrical panel. If you do, make sure to test the switches so you know which box controls which part of the house. After figuring out which box controls which area, find out where all the individual switches lead to, and label each switch (kitchen, upstairs bedroom, laundry room, etc.) so that you know for the future. Do this by turning off one switch and checking to see which outlets in your home lose power. Enlist the help of a friend or family member so you don’t have to run back and forth from your panel. Old school pen and tape will do the trick. It will save you a lot of time, trust us. If you are lucky, a previous owner will have labeled the switches already. Make sure they are accurate. Also, it is a good idea to have a flashlight and some extra fuses in a convenient place right next to your panel.
  4. Time to locate the main disconnect – It’s typically located near the top of the box and marked “main.” You’ll want to know where this is in the case of an emergency such as a flood or if someone is being electrocuted. You’ll want to switch the main disconnect rather than try to touch the person or unplug the electrical appliances.

That’s it! Give yourself a pat on the back; you and your electrical panel are now fully acquainted.

Here is a link to an article by BrightNest that teaches you how to reset a breaker or replace a fuse: Fix a Blown Fuse or Reset a Circuit Breaker

Universal Home Experts cares about your comfort. We are licensed and insured electricians, HVAC service technicians, and plumbers serving the entire Houston area since 1992. Our goal is always comfort, reliability and peace of mind in your home. Give us a call today at (713) 364-0226 to find out more and to schedule your fall tune-up services! Visit our website and Facebook page for more information, how-to’s, and special promotions.