Having a well-organized labeling system for your home’s circuit breaker and electrical outlets is a goal many strive for but few fully attain. We know why it’s important: Nobody enjoys a game of Figure Out Which Breaker Is Connected to That One Specific Outlet when it’s time to do a renovation or repair. It’ll never be the first one you try; of that you can be certain. You have to go through at least half a dozen, unnecessarily turning off appliances, clocks, and wifi as you go, yelling up the stairs to your partner, “Was it that one!? How about that one!?”
But you can do this—you can label your breaker now to help your future self many times over. (And one Redditor has a bonus labeling trick you probably haven’t thought of that can help.)
The best way to label your breaker
Contrary to popular belief, properly labeling your breaker panel should be a little more complicated than writing “Kitchen” on a piece of masking tape next to the switch. If you want to go all out, electrical product suppliers D&F Liquidators recommends locating every socket, testing each switch and breaker, and then compiling a complete electrical index.
Also, you should label a room in a way that is clear not just for you, but for any future owners of the home. As D&F explains: “Instead of writing ‘Kids bedroom,’ write, ‘Southwest bedroom,’ and tape the index on the inside of the breaker panel.” They even suggest drawing a floor plan for accuracy; but either way, you’re already much better off than when you started.
Labeling the inside of the outlet cover is also helpful
Labeling the inside of the outlet cover itself is another way to keep track of which outlet is connected to which breaker switch—particularly if a room is split between two breakers. For example, in my apartment, one socket in my kitchen is on the same breaker as the right side of my bedroom because they share a wall. In this case, labeling the breaker kitchen/bedroom would not be specific enough if a fuse blows.
Instead, as Reddit user u/nullvoid88 suggests:
An oldie… whenever you have an electrical plate off, you can make notes on its back. Breaker number, install date/s, paint dabs etc etc etc. Often comes in handy down the road!
You probably don’t need to do this with all the outlet covers in your home—just the couple of areas you know can be puzzling in a pinch for you, for an electrician, and for future residents of the home.