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Question DetailsAsked on 1/19/2015

Is it worthwhile to have an electrician come in to label the circuit breaker panel in my home?

This is an Angieslist offer, $99 to label the circuit breaker panel and a "comprehensive electrical inspection", whether you want it or not, supposedly a $249 value. I understand some homeowners might be wary of doing some pretty simple stuff, such as replacing a wall switch or fixing a leaky faucet, but turning off the circuit breakers one by one to figure out what goes off?

The again, I realize that ADT isn't really going to let me have a $1150 value home security system for $99, why should I expect the other offers to be any better?

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1 Answer


Sounds iffy to me too - no way you would get a "comprehensive electrical inspection" for $249 (say 2 hours ?) much less $99 - a thorough electrical inspection should take about 4-8 hours and involve tracing and inspecting every circuit, checking circuit loading against breaker and wire sizing, inspect service and breaker box for hazards or signs of overheating/arcing, removing outlet and light covers and checking every outlet and light fixture and switch for correct and safe wiring and no signs of distress.

I suspect the labelling will be just things like "kitchen", "baths", "bedrooms", etc - not provide a detailed map of every outlet and fixture and noting which circuit it is on, which is what every household should have available - that alone takes probably about 2 hours plus in a normal house. Pretty easy to do yourself for free, using either a plug-in circuit tracer, or a circuit tester on outlets while circuits are on (to check for correct wiring) and then when breakers are turned off one by one to identify which circuit each demand point is on; testing major appliances when an individual breaker is off; and testing lights by turning all lights on and then checking which go off when each breaker is turned off. You can do this with only one on-off cycle of each breaker if you plan ahead and test all outlets for correct wiring and then turn all lights on before you start turning breakers off one by one and checking what was affected.

A suggestion if doing this yourself - do not do this in cold of winter when having a circuit breaker fail (especially for furnace) could be a real problem, and especially so if also testing master breaker, do early on a Tuesday through Wednesday morning so if a breaker fails ot reset and you need an electrician there is a chance of getting one out that same day. Breakers do fail at times when turned off, and you do not want to have your whole house out of power, or have a furnace outage because a breaker failed to reset during a period when you will be paying double or triple time for an electrician.

One other clue - obviously big double breakers go to high-power devices like range and clothes dryer and electric furnace or hot water heater. Also, GFCI breakers will be feeding (typically) kitchen, bath, sauna/pool/jacuzzi, and outdoor outlets, and if you have a number of both 15 and 20A or 20 and 30A normal single-breaker circuits, the higher amperage ones are normally outlets, and the lower amperage ones lighting.

Especially in 70's and earlier houses, be sure to check both ports in each outlet, because sometimes houses are (are commonly were before 80's) wired so the top and bottom plugs in an outlet were on separate circuits, so it was tougher to overload the circuits in a busy room with a lot of electrical demand.

Answered 5 years ago by LCD

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