exercising circuit breakers

Hello all:

This is my first post!

I just read a sample inspection report where the inspector recommends “exercising” the breakers once a year.

Is this an accepted practice?

It is safest if the breaker is marked SWD (switching duty). I am not sure how many times a breaker that isn’t switch rated can operate before it will fail. U/L doesn’t say.
Fortunately most modern breakers are SWD
Certainly I would not be screwing with those old “hope you get lucky on Ebay” antiques any more than I had to. If you have a square D QO that takes a dump, it is just an inconvienient trip to Home Depot. You break something that they only have in the Menlo Park Museum and you are toast

lol…Greg I had a client testing his FPE 20A GFCI breaker the other day…then called me and needed a replacement…can you say 125.00-150.00 if you can find one....lol....talked him into replacing with a standard 20A breaker and locating a GFCI in the first recept...lol...still charged him 125.00…thehehe

Thanks for the responses guys.

I still would like to know if it is an accepted practice to exercise the breakers once a year.

Furthermore, should we as home inspectors be suggesting or recommending this?



No it is not normal practice…anytime you trip a breaker you effectivly could damage it. Flipping it on and off yearly will not ensure anything and causing it to fault could damage it.

You really have to go a leap of faith and understand the testing process that goes into these breaker manufacturing process.

Now I just happen to be one of the electricians who subscribe to the threory that breakers have a life span…so I personally suggest changing out breakers older than 20 years…but thats me…for example…IF you just have to live with a FPE stablok…fine…but replace the old breakers with the newer models being produced as replacements…forgetting all the crap about panel this and that…newer is better and the newer ones have been quality checked…

Now…most certainly the majority of people do not take the advice of replacing every 20 years…but I still give it…being under heat and stress for that long may effect them…no one knows exactly but I do know that Sq D only warranties their breakers to the first fault…tell ya something?

Exercising circuit breakers is outlined in a NEMA document on their website.


The guidelines for doing this have been recently modified, so you should read through them.