Extra breakers in the panel box?


Old 03-16-05, 02:00 PM
Rick P
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Extra breakers in the panel box?

Is it common to have unused breakers in a panel box? I have 4 unmarked breakers in the box,while the others are all clearly marked as to what they run.

I haven't mapped out the circuits yet,but as far as I can tell,when I turn the breakers off it doesn't affect anything in the house.
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Old 03-16-05, 02:10 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: Fayetteville, NY, USA
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It isn't done often (enough). But it is done sometimes. The way to tell for sure is to carefully remove the panel face. You can tell if they're spares if there are no black or red wires connected to the breakers.

Mapping out your breakers, even though you will have to re-set your VCR, DVD, and coffee maker, microwave and other electronic clocks, it is well worth it to go through this process.

Good luck.

Old 03-16-05, 02:59 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
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There may also be white wires on some of your breakers, although they should be re-identified with black tape or a black marker.

Unused breakers may exist because someone planned for expansion, or because the panel came with them. They could also exist because one or more circuits were removes.
Old 03-16-05, 03:11 PM
Join Date: Sep 2000
Location: United States
Posts: 18,497
Unused breakers are more uncommon than unmarked breakers. But sometimes you'll find an unused breaker for a future air conditioner or future basement circuits. As the guys have said, you can usually tell by seeing if there are any wires attached to them. Be aware that you can kill yourself doing nothing more than removing the panel cover, even if you shut the main breaker off first, if you are not careful.
Old 03-16-05, 05:06 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: USA
Posts: 1,839
Also, someone may have put the breakers in to cover the holes, as you are not allowed to have 'open' holes on the panel, they either must have a filler cover, or a breaker.

The only way to tell for sure is to pull the cover and see if the breakers have a wire connected to them.

Either flip the main breaker off, or use *extreme* care when removing the panel.

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