cost to replace a circuit breakerCircuit breakers are safety devices that regulate the flow of electricity through your home. When a circuit becomes overloaded, the breaker immediately shuts it down ‒ potentially averting a fire or damage to your electrical system. With proper installation and maintenance, circuit breakers typically last 25-30 years. Some high-quality breakers can last up to 40. Unfortunately, even the best breakers wear out eventually. When it happens, knowing the cost to replace a circuit breaker helps you budget for repairs.

What Are Signs Your Circuit Breaker Needs to Be Replaced?

Circuit breakers rarely burn out all of a sudden. Instead, their internal components are gradually weakened by thermal stress, repeated tripping, or mechanical strain. As the breaker wears out, its performance deteriorates, leading to:

  • Frequent Tripping. Aging breakers often can’t handle their prescribed electrical load due to worn parts and contacts, causing   them to trip more easily.
  • Weak Current. Worn breakers struggle to maintain a steady voltage. This can cause lights to flicker and electrical appliances to perform poorly in rooms connected to them.
  • Burning Odors. Old breakers are prone to overheating and electrical shorts, which can cause the panel to emit a burning smell.
  • Excessive Heat. The triggering mechanism inside a decayed breaker may not activate when intended, allowing more current to flow through the circuit than it was designed to handle. Worn components may also cause arcing, when electricity jumps between gaps due to poor contacts. Overheating is the most common side effect in either case.
  • Physical Damage. Charring, discoloration, and melted components are signs of thermal stress, which indicate the breaker’s internal components are beginning to fail.

How Much Does It Cost to Replace a Circuit Breaker?

The cost to replace a circuit breaker varies, depending on several factors. First is size. Most residential circuits are built to carry around 15 amps, enough to run standard household appliances. However, larger appliances such as refrigerators, freezers, air conditioners, water heaters, electric ovens, and hot tubs may require as much as 20, 30, or even 50 amps. The more amps you need, the more you can expect to pay. Small breakers generally cost $30-$50, while the largest cost around $250.

Building codes also affect pricing. Instead of standard breakers, some municipalities require you to install GFCI (Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter) or AFCI (Arc Fault Circuit Interrupter) breakers. GFCI breakers protect against ground faults, which occur when there’s an unexpected contact between an electrical circuit and the ground, which can lead to shocks. AFCI breakers trip whenever they detect an electrical arc inside the breaker, which can lead to fire.

GFCIs are normally installed in electrical panels located within six feet of a water source, such as kitchens and bathrooms. AFCI breakers are normally installed in new construction, including bedrooms, living rooms, dining rooms, and laundry rooms. An AFCI breaker costs about as much as a standard breaker ($30-$50), while a GFCI breaker costs around $200.

Additional Costs

When replacing a circuit breaker, the purchase cost is not the only factor you have to account for. Depending on your situation, you may also have to budget for:

  • Labor. Unless you have experience working with electricity, replacing a circuit breaker requires a professional electrician. Novice electricians generally charge less than veteran ones, but $40-$120 an hour is the normal range. Replacing a circuit breaker usually takes around thirty minutes, but if the circuit requires the installation of extra wiring or equipment, it may take several hours.
  • Diagnostic Fees. Besides their hourly rate, most electricians charge a $75-$125 fee to diagnose problems with your electrical system.
  • Number of Breakers. If you need multiple breakers replaced, some electricians will lower the rate for each breaker.
  • Extra Materials. In most cases, electricians work with your existing materials (wiring, connectors, fasteners, junction boxes, etc.), but sometimes additional supplies are required to complete the job.
  • Upgraded Equipment. Replacing a standard circuit breaker with a GFCI or AFCI breaker may raise the cost by $10-$100. Upgrading from a single pole to double pole breaker may raise it by as much as $200. (Single pole breakers carry 15-20 amps. Double poles carry 30-50.) Older electrical systems may also need additional work to bring them up to code, resulting in higher costs.
  • Permits & Inspections. In most cases, replacing a circuit breaker is a simple and straightforward job. But for complex repairs, a new permit and inspection may be required.

Save on Electrical Repairs with Agway

Circuit breakers play a central role in your electrical system. Make sure they’re protected with EnergyGuardTM. The Agway EnergyGuardTM Program covers your heating, cooling, and electrical systems* from wear and tear. When the need for repair occurs, Agway customers don’t have to waste time searching for a qualified electrician. They call us instead.

Our service team maintains an extended network of skilled professionals. As soon as you call, the first available one is sent straight to your door. There are no service fees or deductibles. We pay for the entire visit and the cost of all covered parts. Don’t leave your circuit breakers vulnerable to damage from wear and tear. Sign up and start enjoying the benefits of EnergyGuardTM today!

*Coverage depends on commodity purchased.