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How Does a Circuit Breaker Panel Work?

The circuit breaker controls the flow of electricity into your home, ensuring that you can access electrical power safely and securely. Without it, we wouldn’t be able to use the lights and appliances that define our modern world, and places like Spokane would still be conducting logging operations in the dark. But while most of us know how to check the circuit breaker panel when the electrical power goes out somewhere, comparatively few of us know how the circuit breaker panel actually works.

Electricity arrives from your city’s local power grid into the breaker box via a main circuit, which consists of a number of smaller circuits. The hot wire, on one end of the circuit, carries the electrical current, while the neutral wire is grounded in the earth.  Normally those two wires never come into contact with each other. When they do, they create a huge charge in the wires, which can cause them to overheat and start a fire.

The circuit breakers halt that process before it reaches dangerous levels. Older homes used fuses, which would get blown whenever the current rose too high and open the circuit. That kept the wire from becoming damaged and the surrounding materials from catching fire.

Fuses, however, had a one-shot shelf life and couldn’t be re-used after they were blown. The circuit breakers worked along the same principles, only they won’t disintegrate the way the fuses would. The breaker contains a switch, connected to an electromagnet, with the hot wire linked to the switch’s two ends. When the current gets too high, it magnetizes the magnet, which pulls on the switch, breaking the circuit and shutting off the electricity.

Circuit breaker panels work that way to keep your home safe. While you can check to see if they’ve been triggered and reset them if the power goes out, it pays to contact a professional Spokane electrician if you need to conduct any more in-depth operations. The electricians at ACI Northwest can handle electrical issues with your circuit breaker panel in Spokane and throughout the surrounding communities. Contact us today to set up an appointment.

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