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How to Open a Locked Breaker Box? – Only 4 Steps

Fact checked by Teddy B.Miller

how to open a locked breaker box

A circuit breaker box is an electrical panel fixed in a wall and located behind the door in hidden places such as basements, garages, or outside the house.

It is a metal box where electrical circuits are stored. It lets you control the electric flow of each part of your home. Usually gray in color, the circuit breaker box has a cover to prevent damage to the live wires inside and protect people from getting in contact with them.

But what to do if the breaker box won’t open? Read on to know Read on to learn how to open a locked breaker box.

What you need to open circuit breaker box

  • Electrical PPE – A combination of goggles, hand gloves, and safety footwear
  • Screwdriver or electric drill
  • A multimeter – A multimeter is a device that detects electrical flow. There are two types of multimeter: the analog and the digital kind. The analog shows the electrical current using a needle, while the digital shows it using a numerical value.

Step-by-step Guide:


Step 1: Wear protective gear

Whether dealing with an outside breaker box or an indoor breaker box like in apartment, you must equip yourself with protective materials.

Even the professionals wear personal protective equipment when dealing with electrical components, so don’t hesitate to do the same.

Step 2: Turn off the main source of power.

The main breaker switch can be located outside the breaker box at the top, bottom, or side of the electrical panel.

It is usually a large switch that can be flipped up or down to switch it on or off, like on the square D breaker box.

First, turn off the main breaker by pushing it down so the electrical flow will stop, making it safer for you to do your open breaker box cover later.

Step 3: Use a multimeter

Before touching any part of the breaker box, always use a multimeter by following these steps:

  • First, turn the meter on.
  • Second, plug the cords into the input jacks. You’ll hear a warning tone if you input the cords incorrectly.
  • Third, put the red lead on the breaker terminal while putting the black lead on the neutral bar or the white wires.
  • Fourth, once the multimeter starts moving, it is now reading the voltage of the material you tested.

Step 4: Unfasten the breaker box cover using a screwdriver.

Use a screwdriver or a cordless drill to remove the screws of the electric panel cover. The metal cover can be heavy, so be sure to seek assistance from others in removing it.

Start from the bottom screws first and then work your way up to the top.

  • First, hold the panel cover steadily as you remove all the screws.
  • Second, after removing all the screws, move the electric panel away from the cover, then set it aside.
  • Third, place the panel cover in a secluded area where it may not fall nor be a cause of distraction.

Also, you might have to exert more strength in removing an outdoor breaker box cover since they are made from more durable materials that are designed to withstand inclement weather.

For a Siemens breaker box, you also need to remove the perimeter screws on its door.

How Can You Pick a Lock Box Lock Without Key?

You need a paper clip or a tension wrench for this task. It’s similar to picking any lock as you straighten the clip out and use its small tip to apply tension to the keyhole.

You now use a paperclip as the key you do not have, so turn it the way the key turns.


These are the steps on how to open a locked breaker box, and it’s a skill to know how to deal with this kind of dilemma. It is even more important that we ensure our home’s safety by taking good care of our main breaker box.

Additionally, you can do the same to open your outdoor circuit breaker box lock for your electrical panel.

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