How to Reset a Circuit Breaker

You're cheerfully cooking breakfast in the kitchen. You've got some muffins in the convection oven, toast in the toaster, and are about to cook some pancakes on the electric griddle when suddenly the power goes out. Do you know what to do?

Overdrawing power from a circuit is a common mistake in residential homes. Luckily, your circuit breaker kicks in and turns off the power before you can do any serious damage to your home. When that happens, the circuit breaker needs to be reset in order to restore power to the circuit. That's what I'd like to talk about today.

Note: If you know absolutely nothing about circuit breakers and the circuit breaker panel, I'd highly recommend reading my other post, "Breaker Box Basics," before tackling this one!

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How to Reset a Circuit Breaker
Step 1: Turn Off All Appliances/Electronics in the Room

Obviously, they seem off because they're not currently receiving power. But, actually put their switches in the off position, so that when you get the power back on, they don't immediately turn back on.

Step 2: Identify the Tripped Breaker

The inside of your circuit breaker panel should look something like this:

Know how to reset your circuit breaker in an emergency with this straightforward tutorial. #HomeImprovement

In the above picture, all of the circuits are on and providing power except for the one labeled "Up Air Conditioner" on the left side, which is turned off. You'll notice that all the circuits in a column point the same way for "on." When you trip a breaker, the switch for that circuit flips to the "off" position. 

Know how to reset your circuit breaker in an emergency with this straightforward tutorial. #HomeImprovement

In the above photo, I tripped the breaker for the circuit labeled "receptacles" and circled in pink.

Identifying the tripped circuit in my circuit breaker is pretty easy; the switch flips all the way to the other side, making it stand out from the other circuits. This might not be the case in your circuit breaker. Some circuit breakers only flip half-way, or in some cases, barely move at all.

If it's not obvious what circuit tripped, look for labels around your circuit breaker. If you lost power in the kitchen, is one of the circuits labeled "kitchen?" That would be a good place to start.

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Step 3: Turn the Circuit Off

My circuit breaker flips the switch entirely to the off position, but most circuit breakers don't. Once you've identified the tripped circuit, flip the switch entirely to the off position.

Step 4: Turn the Circuit On

Once the circuit breaker is entirely turned off, it can be turned back on. At this point, you should have power. Take care not to use as many appliances as you were before, so that the circuit doesn't trip again.

If the circuit does trip shortly/immediately after you reset it, and you were using fewer appliances, this is indicative of a larger wiring problem. Time to call the electrician!

In Conclusion...

I hope this helped you be a bit more prepared to deal with a tripped circuit breaker (or deal with your current tripped breaker; I see you googlers 🙂 It's a simple process, but one we don't really need to know until something happens. If you found this informative, and or think all of your friends should be able to reset tripped breakers, go ahead and pin this to Pinterest so you can find it later!

Know how to reset your circuit breaker in an emergency with this straightforward tutorial. #HomeImprovement

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