CALL US: 855-928-2424   |   EMAIL US 

Request a Consultation

Need more information? Check out our Services Page for details.

Your Home’s Circuit Breaker Can Play a Role When You’re Away

January 17, 2023


Worrying about your house while you’re away is normal. After all, it’s not only a huge investment, it’s where you live. Removing some of that worry is what we do as Home Watch professionals. But there are things you can do too to help protect your home. One thing to consider is how your home’s circuit breaker can play a role while you’re away.

What is a Circuit Breaker?

Your home’s circuit breaker is an electrical switch designed to prevent damage to your electrical system and appliances due to an overload or short circuit. It does this by automatically opening a circuit and preventing the flow of electricity when an excessive amount of electricity passes through the circuit breaker.

Mechanical circuit breakers contain physical flip switches that are normally labeled by room. A solid-state circuit breaker uses a power semiconductor without physically-moving parts to quickly open a circuit.

How Does a Circuit Breaker Work?

When too much electricity is present, the circuit breaker switch automatically trips to break the circuit. In a mechanical circuit breaker, you can reset the switch and restore power by flipping it back to its original position.

Running too many kitchen appliances at the same time, such as a microwave oven, a toaster oven and an air fryer at the same time may trip the switch. In this case, unplug your items, find the switch on your circuit breaker associated with your kitchen outlets, and flip the switch back. Run fewer appliances once power is restored. If your circuit breaker is continually tripping, this indicates an electrical problem that should be checked and remedied by a professional electrician.

Where is Your Circuit Breaker Located?

Do you know where your home’s circuit breaker is located? In a single-family home, it is likely located in your garage, basement, utility closet or laundry room. In an apartment, it may be located in a hallway, bedroom, kitchen or laundry room.

Most often, the circuit breaker is installed inside the home, but on older homes, it can sometimes be found attached to the exterior within a metal box. Look for a gray box or a gray door that is recessed into a wall.

Related: How to Reset a Circuit Breaker

How Your Circuit Breaker Can Play a Role When You’re Away

If you plan to be away from your home for an extended period, like a job assignment or vacation, you can use your circuit breaker to help mitigate potential risks from electrical problems and protect your home.

What to Leave On

There are certain systems and appliances you want to keep working while you’re away. They include your:


Your refrigerator is designed to work best when continually running. Turning it on and off can create malfunctions. What you can do is turn off the ice maker and empty the ice bin. If the electricity should go off, water from melting ice could create damage. Be sure to empty the refrigerator of perishable foods prior to leaving. You don’t want to return home to rotten food and mold!

HVAC System

It is important to keep air moving through your house when nobody is there because proper air circulation can mitigate mold and moisture problems. Set your thermostat to the proper temperatures for warm or cold months. In summer, set it to 80 degrees; in winter, don’t go below 55 degrees.

Garbage Disposal

One thing homeowners may not think of is their garbage disposal. This appliance needs to be run periodically in order not to rust or malfunction. Have whomever is watching your home while you’re away (your Home Watch service or neighbor) run cold water down the drain and turn on your garbage disposal for a minimum of 10 seconds on a periodic basis.

What You Can Turn Off

Because you don’t want to spend money on electricity to run appliances you won’t be using, and to prevent power surges from storms that can damage appliances, you can use your home’s circuit breaker to turn off the following when you’re away:

Hot Water Heater

There’s no need to continually create hot water when there’s nobody at home to use it. You will want to turn off your main water valve and the circuit breaker that controls your electrical hot water heater before you leave. Natural gas- or oil-powered hot water heaters are not controlled by the circuit breaker. Look for a “vacation” or “pilot” mode on the gas water heater, and turn off the oil water heater.

Washer and Dryer

Flip the circuit breaker to the off position for your washer and dryer while you’re away. It’s easier than climbing behind these appliances to unplug them and will help you save time when you return and need to use them again.


Some homeowners choose to turn off power to their dishwasher when they’re away. If you use the dishwasher regularly, there may be residual moisture. Leave the dishwasher door cracked open slightly to avoid mold or mildew.

Electric Stove

Another item that can be disconnected from the power source is your electric stove.

High-End Electronics

It is a good idea to unplug high-end electronics to avoid power surges in the event of a storm.  Surge protectors can only protect against small surges. Unplug each electronic device individually, or use your circuit breaker to remove an entire region from the electrical grid.

Use a Home Watch Professional like Golden Rule Home Watch

In Northern Virginia, we’re susceptible to powerful storms that can damage your home’s electrically-powered systems, appliances and devices. When you are away, think about how you can use your home’s circuit breaker to play a role in protecting them.

Our Home Watch professionals at Golden Rule Home Watch & Concierge visit your house on a pre-planned schedule to inspect all your home’s systems, using our multi-point checklist. We’ll look for signs of damage or potential problems to prevent them from becoming bigger issues, and send you a detailed report following each visit.

Your peace of mind is important when you’re away. Trust the professionals at Golden Rule Home Watch & Concierge to watch over your home like you would. Contact us for a free consultation at 855-928-2424.