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Identifying Electrical Circuits

Question: How do I know which fuse or circuit breaker controls what circuits in my home?

Answer: If the electrician who wired your home did a proper and complete job he will have identified each circuit breaker or fuse on a list which is usually found on the inside cover of the load center or distribution panel. The load center or distribution panel is the panel where the fuses or circuit breakers are located.

However, in many cases, especially in older homes, the designations may not describe all of the circuits and/or electrical circuit modifications and renovations to the home may have taken place and the information as to what fuse or circuit breaker controls what circuit may not be correct any longer.

If your fuse or circuit breaker panel is not labeled or it is labeled incorrectly, it is worth the effort to create a new set of labels. The best way to accomplish this is to turn on all lights, fans, and appliances and plug lamps into electrical sockets. One at a time remove a fuse or turn off a circuit breaker. Go through the home and identify what appliances, lights and lamps are now off. Those are the circuits being controlled by that fuse or circuit breaker. Turn that circuit breaker back on or insert the fuse and do the same with the next fuse or circuit breaker.

Knowing which fuse or circuit breaker controls what circuits will save you a lot of time and frustration should you experience an electrical problem.

Additional information on electrical panels and load centers.