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Breaker Breaker! How to Safely Check for Electrical Current and a Quick Tip to Save Time

New homeowners sometimes walk in only to realize they might not have picked up the simple skills to fix or upgrade things and end up wasting money hiring a professional. Here’s a quick tip that will help you out!

Do you want to change out a light switch or electrical outlet?

The first step is to figure out which breaker to flip to turn off electricity to that switch/outlet or you risk getting an electric shock or worse!


This is our breaker box – if you’re lucky, a lot of the switches have already been labeled, however, you’ll obviously want to double-check before fiddling with any wires directly.

Method One to test for current:  this is the easiest way to make sure you flipped off the power to an outlet or light switch – TRY IT.  Plug in a lamp if it’s an empty outlet.

Method Two is even more pro: use a Volt Meter to test it.  Volt Meters will tell you if the same set of switches are on different breaker switches.  While it’s not common, it does happen.  For our most recent project, the very first set of rocker switches we worked with were on at least 2 different breakers.  Had we only checked the one switch, we could have been in for a nasty surprise!  Volt Meters can be simple or very complex (and expensive!), no need to break the bank though.  My husband strongly recommends that you pick up one from the brand Fluke, he finds they are high quality.  When you get it, simply follow the directions.

Once you’re sure there’s no electricity a-flowin’, replace the piece you need to, but before you put the cover back on, do this one thing to save yourself some time the next time you need to do some maintenance – get yourself a single roll of white electrical tape to keep with your tools, snip a piece off, and put it on the underside of the cover.  Write which breaker goes with that switch/outlet, and you’ll never have to wonder again!

Hope this has been a helpful household hint!

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