Your circuit panel is one of the most important parts of your home’s electrical system. Like any other important piece of infrastructure in your home, it is important that you take proper care of it and engage in ongoing maintenance to ensure it lasts as long as possible. By performing regular circuit breaker maintenance in Alexandria, VA, you’ll be able to protect your electrical system against short circuits, overcurrents and potential fire hazards.
To be able to truly care for your circuit panel, you must have at least a basic understanding of its components and how it works.
Components of a circuit breaker
Most circuit breakers have five primary components, which are as follows:
- The frame, which contains all of the below components and offers insulation to contain electrical arc
- The operating mechanism, which is tasked with opening and closing contacts
- The trip unit, which tracks current flow, senses any abnormalities in the system and causes the operating mechanism to open up the contacts as needed
- The interrupting structure, which features the arc chutes and all parts that carry currents except for the trip unit
- The terminal connections, which offer a connection from the breaker to the conductor
How circuit breakers work
The service panel you see when you open up your circuit breaker is essentially the central control station for your home’s electricity. The breaker is an alternative to the fuse boxes found in older homes, which are now outdated.
The purpose of the circuit breaker is to evenly distribute electricity throughout your home via circuits, and to prevent any individual circuit you have on the system from drawing too much power. In cases where there is too much power, the wires would overheat and potentially cause a fire. Each of the circuits at the panel is connected by a circuit breaker, which protects the system from overcurrents. If overcurrent occurs, the corresponding breaker will switch off to prevent any further overheating from occurring.
The good news is that there isn’t a whole lot you need to do to maintain your circuit breakers—any significant electrical work should be handled by a trained and certified professional. This includes repairs or upgrades.
However, there are a few things you can do on occasion just to make sure everything is looking good and functioning properly. First, you can check the physical condition of the service panel, and look for any signs of moisture or rust. If you notice any damage, rust or moisture, be sure to get an electrician out to your property as soon as possible.
Once a year, you should also go through and trip and reset all of your circuit breakers. This will help you make sure they’re still working, and prevent corrosion from setting in. Otherwise, a corroded breaker might not properly trip when you need it to work and protect you from overcurrent.
For more information about the steps you can take for proper circuit breaker maintenance in Alexandria, VA, we encourage you to contact the team at Walsh Electric today.