Marking Circuit Breakers

Residential Circuit Breaker Panel with Service Writing
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In order to keep your electrical panel in order, marking the circuits makes shutting off a circuit breaker a snap. Located inside the door of the electrical circuit breaker panel is a panel schedule. This is a paper that shows individual circuit breaker locations and what is connected to it.

Circuit Breaker Layout

If you open the circuit breaker panel cover, you'll notice the layout of circuit breakers. The left side is the odd-numbered circuit breakers that are in a sequence of 1, 3, 5, etc. and the right side is the even numbered circuit breakers in a sequence of 2, 4, 6, etc.

Look at the Panel Schedule

You'll see that the panel schedule coincides with this layout. Now, look at the metal to the left and right of the circuit breakers. Here too are the circuit breaker opening numbers. By looking at the number on the metal, writing the room or appliance connected to that breaker in the panel schedule panel, you'll have an organized circuit breaker panel.

The Importance of an Ink Pen or Marker

This may be the most important part of the discussion. Always mark the panel schedule with an ink pen or marker. A sharpie is an ideal choice. If you simply write the information down with a pencil, you will find that over time, the writing starts to disappear. Finding the circuit then becomes almost impossible. Instead, using a marker ensures that the label is clearly visible for almost ever.

Some electrical panels have a clear plastic sleeve that holds the panel schedule. This index card of sorts can be removed and installed in a typewriter to type the information on the card. If this is the option that you choose, we suggest copying the information and placing the panel schedule backup in a safe place.

Another Visual Tip

An additional tip to aid in an easier visual is to use sticky labels that can be written on to display the number of the circuit or circuits connected to an appliance or load. Then there is the option of those little number tags. Place these beside the breakers in the panel and you'll have a clear look at the breaker layout. The drawback to this method is that the sticky backing can become dried out over time and the stickers can fall off or partially become dislodged.

Mark the Electrical Panel and Check It Twice

Over the many years, we personally have dealt with electrical service panel schedules, writing down the locations of the circuitry is not only a responsible choice but a safety matter as well. It would be nice to know what circuit controls a part of your home before working on that circuit. If you didn't know the breaker, you'd have to either fumble around until you found it, shut off the main breaker, or work on it hot. This, of course, is not a choice we endorse. Instead, take the time to mark the entire electrical panel and check it twice.

Here are a few great articles to guide you through the world of circuit breakers and circuit breaker panels.