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I just finished mapping every light and electrical outlet in our house. I made a map of the entire house and marked every light and outlet on the map. I have everything (I think) accounted for, however there is still a single 15 amp breaker on the panel that doesn't seem to correspond to any outlets/lights. I flipped it off, and I can't find anywhere in the house that loses power.

Could there be simply an unused breaker in the panel? If it's unused, why wouldn't the electrician just leave the blank piece of metal there instead?

  • Did you open the panel, to see if anything is connected to the breaker? – Tester101 Dec 7 '15 at 3:38
  • Without being on site, it's impossible to provide a definitive answer. Any answer here will be complete speculation. – Tester101 Dec 7 '15 at 3:49
  • I'm a bit wary of opening the electrical panel. As you can probably tell by my post, I'm not the most confident person when it comes to electricity. – user1159415 Dec 7 '15 at 3:50
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Could there be simply an unused breaker in the panel? If it's unused, why wouldn't the electrician just leave the blank piece of metal there instead?

Yes sometimes spare breakers are inserted as part of the contract to allow for future expansion. Or someone discontinued a circuit and left the breaker.

Either way it is nothing to be too concerned about. At least now you know you have an open circuit if you wish to add something later.

Happy Day!

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    we actually had an additional outlet added a few years ago on an entire new breaker. It was for a treadmill and we wanted to be sure it had enough juice. The electrician at the time mentioned that the panel was now full and if we needed to add any more breakers in the future, we would need a subpanel. So it would seem that the mystery breaker is being used. – user1159415 Dec 7 '15 at 2:57
  • If you shut off a breaker feeding a receptacle that does not have a load on it, then you will not notice anything. E.g. The treadmill on a separate circuit. You still don't need a sub-panel. You could add circuits with tandem breakers. – ArchonOSX Dec 7 '15 at 9:59
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Could it be unused? Sure. Is it unused? There's no way to tell that through the internet.

National Electrical Code requires that all holes in electrical enclosures be closed. If the bit of metal that previously covered the space where a breaker should go was removed, the Electrician would have a couple options to fill the hole. They could install a listed, labeled, and approved plug. Or they could install an unused breaker, which would fill the hole.

The only way to know for sure, if the Electrician left the breaker installed but disconnected. Is to remove the cover from the panel, and look inside.

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