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How Long Can You Leave a Circuit Breaker Off?

Many people turn off the circuit breaker when they leave the house. They could be gone for a few days or even a few months. Either way, you should know what issues leaving the circuit breaker off can lead to. 

You can generally leave the circuit breaker off for one year or more. You won’t inflict any damage to the circuit breaker by turning it off. But each time you turn the circuit breaker on and off, the breaker will be subject to wear and tear.

FactorAverage Lifespan
Normal usage and conditions30-40 years
Frequent turning on/off15-20 years

Please note that this is an estimate, and the actual lifespan of a circuit breaker can vary based on many factors. Following the manufacturer’s guidelines and regularly inspect and maintain your circuit breakers to ensure they function properly is important.

I will go into more detail below.

Things You Should Know About Leaving a Circuit Breaker Off for a Long Time

You might be planning to take a two-week vacation or be out of town for a few days. Whatever the option, you might turn off the circuit breaker when you leave home. Most people do this to save electricity, which is a good idea. But is it safe to leave the circuit breaker off? If so, how long can you keep it off?

You can leave the circuit breaker off for a year or more. There won’t be any damage to the circuit breaker. And you can turn it back on after you return home.

But if you do this repeatedly, you might face some problems.

Why Do People Turn Off the Circuit Breaker When They Leave Home?

As a habit, most people turn off the circuit breaker every time they leave home, and they do this to save electricity. Even though this is an excellent idea to save some electricity, it can cause light damage to the breaker.

As you can imagine, regularly turning the circuit breaker switch on and off can cause damage to the breaker over time.

This kind of sudden circuit breaker powering on and off can cause damage to your electrical appliances. When you turn on the breaker, the appliances will be exposed to a significant electrical surge. This electrical surge can damage your appliances.

Hence, without even you knowing it, the lifespan of the circuit breaker and appliances will be reduced greatly. Instead of turning off the circuit breaker, you can follow a few different alternatives to save some electricity.

How Do You Save Electricity without Turning Off the Circuit Breaker?

There are a few ways to save electricity without turning off the circuit breaker every time you leave home.

Unplug All Your Appliances

extension wire outlet with loads of plugged wires
Video | Seeker

You can always unplug all of your appliances before leaving home. This action is akin to turning off the circuit breaker. And it will save some electricity. Always remember that unplugging the appliances is the best thing to do when you aren’t using them.

Adjust the Thermostat

Adjusting the thermostat is another excellent method to save electricity. You can do this when you leave the house.

For instance, you can set the thermostat between 50 and 60 Fahrenheit for cold weather conditions. This temperature will make sure you don’t damage or freeze the pipes.

Also, keep the AC unit’s temperature at 85 Fahrenheit for warmer days. In low temperatures, the AC unit will take less electricity.

Use Energy Efficient Appliances

If you are worried about your electricity consumption, using energy-efficient appliances is an excellent method to save some electricity. For instance, you can use appliances that have Energy Star accreditation. These appliances use up to 50% less energy than normal ones. Therefore, you can replace your ordinary dryer, washer, or refrigerator with energy-efficient appliances.

Unplug Big Appliances

electronic appliances at home
Video | Seeker

Before you leave home, always remember to unplug big appliances first. The big appliances consume a lot of electricity even when they aren’t operational. For instance, a refrigerator is a big appliance that consumes lots of electricity. Hence, unplugging it will surely save electricity.

How Long Can You Use a Circuit Breaker?

turning on and off the circuit breaker
Video | Howcast

You can often use a circuit breaker for 30 to 40 years without issues. However, the lifespan of a circuit breaker might be reduced due to quality and electrical events.


As you can see, if the quality of the circuit breaker’s base materials is low, the lifespan will be reduced remarkably. We can’t control this factor, and these low-quality circuit breakers are cheaper than usual.

Electrical Events

Different kinds of electrical events can affect the lifespan of a circuit breaker. Lightning strikes, electrical overloads, and sudden electrical surges can damage circuit breakers.

A sudden electrical surge can occur whenever you turn on a circuit breaker. This electrical surge can damage the circuit breaker and your appliances.

Luckily, most circuit breakers are built to resist this type of electrical surge. However, I cannot say the same thing about all the circuit breakers in the market.

How to Identify a Bad Circuit Breaker?

You can use many signs to identify a bad circuit breaker. In this section, I’ll talk about them briefly.

Breaker Trips Without Any Reason

If the circuit breaker trips without reason, it could be a sign of a bad circuit breaker. Most often, a circuit breaker might trip once a month. If the breaker trips more than once per month, it indicates a bad circuit breaker.

That means your old circuit breaker cannot handle the electricity flowing through it. Because of that, the circuit breaker trips regularly. And you’ll have to replace the circuit breaker as soon as possible.

Visual Signs

When the circuit breaker is bad, you can see clear visual signs such as rust, melted wire insulations, loose connections, and broken housing. If you see these signs on the circuit breaker or the panel, replace the breaker immediately.

Video References




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About Sam Orlovsky

AvatarCertifications: B.E.E.
Education: University Of Denver - Electric Engineering
Lives In: Denver Colorado

Electrical engineering is my passion, and I’ve been in the industry for over 20 years. This gives me a unique ability to give you expert home improvement and DIY recommendations. I’m not only an electrician, but I also like machinery and anything to do with carpentry. One of my career paths started as a general handyman, so I also have a lot of experience with home improvement I love to share.

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