In doing this job and any other job in which electricity will be involved, please make sure to take all precautionary measures to assure yourself of your safety. It is also always a good idea to make it good practice to always wear the best protective eyewear you can find when eyewear is necessary. Make sure the power has been turned off before beginning this project. You must have great respect for electricity.
Before you begin your work, make sure to call your light company about any guidelines you might have to follow according to their rules and regulations. Be safe and never break the rules. Make sure to ask what size breaker box is ideal for your home and also ask what size load wire to use for the load of the breaker box and meter box. They will be able to answer any questions you might have.
Once the size of breaker box and meter box have been established, and of course the size of wire, you are ready to begin. Even after the light company has come to turn off the electricity, make sure to check again to make sure that the power is indeed shut off by using your voltage tester. After the meter has been removed from box, take one of the prongs of the tester and touch the middle lug on the meter.
Take the second prong of the tester and touch all four corner lugs. There will be two on top, two on the bottom, and two neutral lugs in the middle, top to bottom. If your tester does not register, then the electricity is off. Make sure to tag or mark every wire that is going to a breaker so that you can identify and replace them with new breaker in your new breaker box.
Continue by removing the wires from all breakers and all other wires that are screwed into neutrals and ground bars in the breaker box. Remove load wires which will be your bigger, thicker wires that will be in lugs in the breaker box and meter box. Wires go box to box. Your source of electricity comes from the meter box via load wires to breaker box where power is then dispersed accordingly through different size breakers.
You will find that boxes are screwed to the wall of the housing by simply putting screws through holes in the back of both boxes. If the wall is made of brick or any material of the sort, then you might have to secure by using anchors which are plastic or soft metal screw receptors which you insert in a hole drilled directly in line with holes in the back of your boxes. They expand when screws are screwed into them making a tight fit.
At this point, remove screws that are already in the boxes screwed to the wall and pull your boxes off the wall. Take connectors off either side of boxes holding short piece of pipe in between boxes. When you remove your breaker box from the wall, make sure to take care not to knock off any of your identity tags on your wires.
Take your new breaker box and make appropriate size hole. You must make sure that hole you make is large enough to pass your wires back through. You will see that there are “fillers” of all sizes in the back and both sides of your breaker box.
Now take your linesman pliers and remove as many set fillers (sometimes you will hear them referred to as “knock outs”) as it takes to fit connectors being used. Two-inch connectors are usually the average size used. Do the same with the meter box unless using the same one.
Cut a piece of pipe the same length as one already in between both boxes or if you can, just use the same one. Make sure to do everything in accordance with the rules and guidelines of the light company. Once you have marked and screwed down your boxes to the wall, adjoin your boxes again by placing terminal adaptors on either side of your pipe unless using the same.
Slip into both of your boxes where you have removed set fittings on sides. Once in place, take a lock nut of the same size as adaptor and screw onto adaptors. This seals the adjoining boxes and conceals and weather-proofs load wires that will be replaced between both boxes.
Now that you have successfully replaced your boxes on the wall, you are ready to replace your wires. Again, please inquire from your light company what size load wire to use in replacing. Take one wire and insert in middle bottom lug of meter box.
Take another wire and insert it in one of the main breaker lugs in the breaker box. Take the other end and insert it in the bottom left or right lug in the meter box. Take one last wire and insert one end in the remainder main breaker lug, and take the other end and insert in the remaining bottom lug in the meter box.
Finally, just simply replace your identified wires with their correlating breakers. Make sure to screw in the green grounding screw that comes with the new breaker box. Instructions that come with the box will be descriptive as to where to put the screw. Also, make sure to replace all ground wires to the ground bar. Electrician or not, you have just successfully changed out your own breaker and meter box.