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If you are like most people, you have probably found yourself in a similar situation in the past – you turn on an appliance, and the next thing you know, a portion of your house has lost power. You can blame this frustrating and badly timed incident on your breaker panel.

Your home’s breaker panel has an important job. It’s designed to safely control the flow of electricity through your home and respond to your needs for power, all while operating quietly behind the scenes. But sometimes there is a problem within the home electrical system, specifically within the breaker panel.

In the event of problem, never panic.

Usually this problem is one that’s easy to fix by figuring out which circuit breaker is the problem, and then resetting it. Remember, if you aren’t sure you can handle this on your own, you can always call an electrician who will be happy to help.

However, if you want to try to troubleshoot this all-too-common issue yourself, use the steps found here.

Find the Breaker Panel

Do you know where your breaker panel is? If not, it’s easy to find. The breaker box is rectangular, and it’s typically a grey box. Usually, you will find it in your utility room, basement, garage, or somewhere near your HVAC system.

Listen Carefully to the Breaker Panel

You may feel a little silly doing this, but it’s an important step. Stop and listen to the breaker panel. Can you hear a buzzing sound? If you can – stop there.

Sometimes, this buzzing sound can indicate a more serious issue. At this point, calling a licensed electrician for help is best.

Proceed with Caution

If you don’t hear any noise, then look at the diagram on the panel’s door to find the circuit you need to reset. Usually, the diagram will correspond to the electric layout of your house, and the switches are usually labeled or numbered.

Look for a Tripped Breaker

The switch of the circuit that has tripped will have moved to the middle position (right between the “On” and “Off” positions.) Once you locate the problem circuit, switch it to the off position and then switch it back to the “ON” position.

Additional Troubleshooting

At this point, hopefully the breaker is reset, and your power is restored. If not, it’s time to do more troubleshooting, including the following:

  • Is there a new appliance in the house?
  • Do you have any old or outdated equipment running?
  • Do you have a lot of electrical devices plugged in?
  • Is anything plugged into a GFCI outlet?

If you can figure out which of these factors the problem may be, then unplug the potential issue appliance or device. If that doesn’t work, the problem may be because of short circuits or old wiring, which is something the professionals need to handle. If an appliance is plugged into a GFCI outlet, then also reset the outlet.

Contact a Professional Electrician for Help

If you can’t see to get your power to come back on, the best thing you can do is contact a licensed electrician. They can find the underlying issue and ensure the proper repairs are made.