How Do I Know When My Breaker Box Is Full?

electrical panelIf you plan on installing a hot tub or building a pool, you need to know that your home’s breaker box can handle the extra load. If you notice appliances aren’t operating at full capacity, you wonder if it’s time to upgrade the fuse box. Pulling more electricity into the house doesn’t always call for professional breaker box repair or replacement. There might be room for increased capacity in your breaker panel, but how can you be sure?

Take a Look Inside

If all the slots in your fuse box contain breakers, you assume it’s full. However, take a look at the diagram inside the door. It indicates how many circuits a breaker box can handle. If you see a 20/40 notation, that means your box has 20 spaces for breakers and the capacity to operate with 40 circuits. It’s not uncommon for builders to fill all the slots with single breakers, but the door drawing maps out spaces that can accept tandem breakers. If your panel doesn’t have a layout diagram, a licensed residential electrician can determine its capacity.

Double Down With Tandems

A tandem breaker takes up the same space as a single on the panel board, but it allows for the installation of two circuits in one slot. Often, the solution to a full breaker panel is as simple as replacing singles with tandems, but it’s important to know if your box meets Circuit Total Limitation standards. CTL certification became a part of the National Electric Code in 1965. If your electrical panel was installed before 1965, you’ll need a professional electrician to confirm its integrity and take care of any breaker box repair before installing tandems.

Don’t Do It Yourself

As handy as you are with home repairs, it’s never a good idea to work on the electrical panel. A licensed residential electrician knows his way around all kinds of electrical panel upgrades, and that expertise ensures your home’s safety. He takes care of special tandem requirements in older panels with industry-proven installation techniques. Very few homeowners understand proper breaker placement in a bus bar or the danger of two circuits sharing the same neutral. Improper breaker installation creates a fire hazard, and DIY work can void equipment warranties.

While tandem breakers are more expensive than their single cousins, they do a great job of safely increasing the load capacity in your fuse box. Electrical panel upgrades cost far less than replacements, and our master electricians are always happy to help you decide on the best options for your home. Just give J&B Electrical Service a call at 817-266-5499 or contact us, and we’ll put more than 20 years of experience to work on your breaker box.



  • Robert Williams

    Can I make a 220v circuit by adding two tandem breakers in place of two 1 pole, 110v breakers? My panel is full and all the circuits are in use. It’s a 100A panel. I would send pictures if possible.

    • EPS

      It has to be from two separate buss bars so you’ll have to tap into the bottom of the first tandem breaker and to the second tandem breaker.

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