Building wiring can change over time as additions are made, items removed, or wiring is re-purposed during a remodel. Changes to an electrical circuit should be documented or labeled in a way that will allow everyone to identify what the circuit breaker feeds and protects. Electrical building codes require this documentation, but contractors don’t always do this, and many building inspectors tend to overlook the requirement during inspections.
All electrical panel boxes should be labeled correctly. If the label isn’t there or isn’t filled out, it will be difficult to know what breakers or fuses feed the different electrical circuits in your building.
Why are labels useful?
Having a correctly labeled electrical panel is useful when disconnecting power to specific areas. You may be having some work done and need to de-energize a circuit. Sure, Electricians can handle working with energized equipment, but what about everyone else? Shutting off power when work is being performed to any building wiring or energized equipment is always best practice, even for Electricians.
Labeling will also help with identifying a tripped circuit breaker. Circuit breakers do not always throw back the switch when they trip. The circuit breaker itself may be functioning correctly and may just need to be reset. To properly reset a circuit breaker you should press it firmly into the “off” position, then flip it back to the “on” position. You’ll need to know which one to try though, or else you will be flipping them all, and then possibly calling your electrician.
Correct labeling can also make future repairs more efficient and less time-intensive. It takes time to locate a breaker in order to shut off a circuit for maintenance or repair work. Additionally, when a circuit breaker trips due to a fault, correct labeling will tell you exactly where to look. It is common for circuit breakers to trip due to a simple overload. Most overloads can be resolved by unplugging something and moving it to another circuit.
Knowing what each circuit breaker controls makes things easier for everyone.