A breaker box is the electrical box in your house if you have circuit breakers instead of fuses.
What is it?
The breaker box is arguably the most importable piece of the entire electrical system in your house. It takes power from the grid and divides it up into your separate circuits.
Most breaker boxes now are 200 amps or greater service from the city. That means they can handle a maximum of 200 amps being drawn from all of your devices, lights, etc at once. Most devices will tell you how much amperage they draw.
For example, my laptop says it takes 1.9 Amps. This, however, is an incredibly simplistic view of amperage because devices don’t draw exactly the same amount of amps every second of the day. Therefore, you don’t want to get anywhere close to the 200 amps, or the lower amperage limits of each individual circuit.
Each circuit in your breaker box should be labeled as to where it goes, its voltage, and how many amps it can handle.
What do I do with it?
When a circuit gets too close to the amperage allowed on that circuit, it breaks the circuit. People tend to call this “blowing a fuse” because there were fuses before circuit breakers. The fuse could only handle so many amps before the filament broke.
Conveniently, when you trip a circuit, you simply need to go to your breaker box and find the tripped circuit. The tripped circuit will be the one whose switch is positioned in the middle opposed to one side or the other.
Once you locate the tripped circuit, flip it to the off position and back to the on position. Assuming you aren’t still drawing too many amps or have a short circuit somewhere, it should stay on.
If your circuit flips back off immediately, try unplugging a few things and trying again.
Fortunately, breaker boxes do not require a lot of maintenance. However, you are going to want to make sure of a few things.
Keep it closed at all times you’re not using it. Less chance for dirt, dust, moisture, or pests getting in it.
Keep it labeled. Most people I’ve seen label their breaker boxes with pencil on the side, but pencil fades. Get a proper label maker!
Keep it clear. You should be able to access your breaker box at all times. Being able to cut the power at any given point is also a safety feature.
Keep flammable things away. Although they’re not known to spark or get too hot, why risk it. The most electricity in your entire home flows through that one point.