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I was looking to turn main breakers off at main box outside. Flipped switch nothing happened. Power still on. went and bought new main breakers replaced them and flipped switched off, Nothing happened. Power still on all over house. The inside breakers do turn off the power to house but I wanted to do the whole house from outside. Any ideas.

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    "Them?" How many main breakers do you have? A photo of the panel(s) and any equipment near the meter would help. – Harper Jan 28 at 21:51
  • Are you sure you're turning off the 'main breaker'? In my area the only way to kill power to the house is to pull the meter. (I don't like this method but it's the most cost effective). You may be turning off a small disconnect, or one that is not in use. – Nic Jan 28 at 22:33
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    Can you post photos of the meter, main box, and any equipment or conduit work in between? – ThreePhaseEel Jan 28 at 23:45
  • "went and bought new main breakers replaced them and flipped switched off" -- How did you do this with the power on? – Jonathon Reinhart yesterday
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From the small amount of information, I can give you some answers that may be more like starting points.

Quick Answer? Hire an Electrician.

Long Answer: If you took out the breaker to replace it, the power should have gone out/off. If that didn't happen, there are three scenarios I can think of:

1 - Your breakers have been bypassed to send power directly to the house. Really unsafe as no one can turn out the power to the house.

If the panel was bypassed, you're going to need someone with the proper training and experience to handle it.

If there are other breakers, that may be the reason why the breakers didn't work.

2 - There is, at least, one more panel box.

I have seen older houses with one "breaker" panel inside a closet inside the house. The interesting part was those were the main circuit breaker.

If the power is from an overhead line, look at it and see where it's coming into the house. It's harder for underground.

Where it comes into the house, that is normally where the breaker panel is.

If there are other breakers, that may be the reason why the breakers didn't work.

3- There is another panel/circuit box and the breakers you have have been rerouted around this one to the other one.

If this is the case, the outside breaker can be reinstalled, but your going to need to contact your power company and have the power for the entire house switched off while repairs are made. This will probably be a contractor/electrician's job and may require permits and inspections by the municipality where it's located AND the power company.

Please use caution. The breaker boxes, at least in California, have a lot of juice and one misstep could cost you your life. Not knowing how the system is set up could also make wires and circuits have a charge when you don't expect it.

Use a detector to determine if circuits are charged and NEVER assume or guess about these things.

Absent a photo or video, it's difficult to make an exact diagnosis. Your location will also dictate what the normal practices and codes are for your area.

When in doubt, call a professional to look at it. Most in the US will give you a free estimate of any repair work they propose. Main lines are NOT for the average handyman and even many electricians don't want to get into them.

I am a serial DIYer and rennovator and have put in a LOT of circuits, outlets, exterior and interior lines in my houses over the last 30 years. My Father-in-Law was a contractor and he taught me a lot about household electrical.

  • It's also possible that there is an alternate power source, such as a generator or solar array, providing juice when the "main breaker" is switched off. Follow Dave H's advice--hire an electrician. – Dave Cripps Jan 29 at 0:11
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This unusual kind of bypass wiring is usually found in former marijuana grow op houses. Did you buy the house at some reduced price? Otherwise, you may have mistaken the main panel for a sub-panel. Or, you are getting free power somehow, maybe from a neighbour? Does the serial number on your electrical meter match the serial number on your electrical bills?

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