Home Electrical Circuit Map
If you own a home, do yourself a favor and make yourself an electrical circuit map. And, do it now, not later when you need it. Countless times, I’ve referred to my map to figure out which circuit breaker I need to turn off so I can work on an outlet, plus, figure out what else in my house will go dead while the breaker is off.
It would suck if all the lighting in your room were out while trying to work on the outlet or fixture. It is also nice to know if you will be turning off the computer, or the DVR recording “Lost”, or the heat… It is no fun to play a guessing games each time.
Start with a rough sketch of your home floor plan, plus a sketch of your circuit breaker box with each circuit logically numbered. Then sketch in every outlet, fixture and switch on the map. Here is a sample of standard symbols you might use.
You will need two people at first to greatly shorten the amount of time it takes to map it all out. Ideally, you would use 2-way radios to communicate. One person stands by the circuit breakers, and the other person has the sketches and something to test the outlets with. I have an outlet tester you can pickup at your local hardware store which not only tells you if you have power, but if the polarity and ground is connected correctly.
Then, one by one, go through each circuit and mark what goes out when the circuit is off. Later, you can redraw the whole thing neater if you like and color code it for easy reading. Lastly, store it in a clear laminate folder next to your circuit breaker so you always know where it is.
It doesn’t have to be as fancy as mine, or you can get fancier. Maybe I just missed using my colored pencils from my college days of drawing comic book super heroes.
You may at some point want to calculate the load on the circuit to see if you are pushing it, or, how far you might be able to expand/extend it. But, I’ll save that for another article if anyone is interested.