What Should I Do If My Breaker Box Isn’t Labeled?

It typically lives in your basement, garage, storage utility room, or closet. It’s often mounted to a wall and gray or brown in color. And it’s one of the single most important appliances inside your property for helping to facilitate some of the things you are likely to take most for granted, like the simplicity of flipping a switch to turn on a light or plugging in a toaster to make lunch.

We’re talking about the electrical, or breaker, box. And if you’ve yet to get acquainted with this critical appliance, sooner or later you will. In this post, we’ll discuss the most common reason homeowners visit the breaker box and what to do if the box isn’t labeled. Here’s a closer look:

About the Electrical Box

Like we said in the intro, the electrical box is a gray-colored box that’s mounted to a wall in your basement, storage room, garage, or elsewhere. When you open it up, you’ll likely find two columns of switches, with each switch providing power to a different zone in your home. In a perfect world, the electrician who installed the original box labeled the switches according to the area of the home they power. This way, it’s easy for you to identify the zone if there are ever any issues with electricity in a certain area of the home.

However, in many cases, these switches aren’t properly labeled. Read on for information on how to label this yourself. In the next section, we’ll get into the most common reason property owners visit the box.

Tripped Circuits

Commonly, homeowners head for the breaker box when they trip a circuit. This occurs when appliances are drawing too much electricity through a particular circuit at one time. Keep in mind that electrical work in a home is broken up into a multitude of different circuits, or zones. Each of these zones has its own circuit in the electrical box. When one is tripped, a switch in the electrical box will turn over into the “off” position, meaning that it’s no longer providing power to this zone.

Resetting a tripped breaker is easy – just head to the electrical box, look for the circuit in the off position and flip it back into place to restore power to that zone of the home. If your electrical box is not labeled, take the time to properly label the zone when you reset the circuit breaker after a tripped circuit. It’s one way to gradually work toward a fully labeled electrical box.

How to Label Your Breaker Box

If your breaker box isn’t labeled, you don’t just have to wait until you trip every circuit in the house and then work backward to find out which switch goes to what. It makes sense to be a little proactive and label it in case you need to quickly identify a zone or troubleshoot an area of your home. So what’s the best way to do this? Grab a partner and a nightlight and do some guessing and checking. This method should take no longer than 15-20 minutes and the biggest inconvenience is likely that you’ll need to reset the time on some clocks. Here’s what to do:

  • Put one person by the electrical box and have the other walk around the property with the nightlight (or small electrical appliance).
  • Switch off every circuit except for one and have the person with the nightlight use it to check to see what outlets are still working. Once you determine which zone it is, you can label it as such on the electrical panel. Most zones consist of two or three outlets.
  • Proceed in this manner throughout the home until all of the switches in the electrical box are labeled properly.

Contact Tidal Electrical Services Today

For more information on breaker boxes and how to properly label one that isn’t correctly marked (or marked at all), contact Tidal Electrical Services today. As a full-service commercial, residential, and multi-family electrical contractors, we’re experts in all things electrical. Contact us today for more information and to schedule an appointment.