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Electrical outlet with circuit number label

How to Label the Outlets in Your Home

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One of the first things you need to do when you are ready to begin cleaning up the EMF in your home is to figure out what circuit each outlet, light or electrical receptacle in your home belongs to. This will come in handy if you wish to install RFI filters or “dirty power” filters to clean up the harmonics and other high frequency current from your circuits. This will also be necessary if you wish to optimize the EMF level of your bedrooms or other living spaces where you spend a lot of time. Understanding which outlet belongs to what circuit will allow you to reduce the load of certain circuits or to turn unnecessary circuits off altogether. This is a step-by-step guide on how to identify and label your outlets and receptacles with the corresponding circuit number.

Disclaimer: These instructions are provided for informational use only. Please observe the manufacturer’s instructions and safety recommendations when using any electrical devices or when dealing with circuit panels, outlets, wiring or other electrical implements inside or outside your home. Triple Yolk LLC and EMFs.com do not assume responsibility and disclaim all liability for direct or indirect damage, loss, injury, or expense arising from improper use or operation of your electrical devices, circuit panel, outlets, wiring or other electrical implements.

How Long it Will Take

The initial testing requires the power to be shut off to the entire house and will take about 30 minutes based upon our experience with a 1500 square foot, 23 circuit house. At the end of the initial testing, labeled sticky notes will be attached to all of the outlets in the house. The second part of this procedure consists of replacing the sticky notes with permanent labels which can take an hour or two, depending upon your skill with a label maker and how particular you are about the placement of the labels.

What You’ll Need

Labeling electrical outlets in your home kit

  • Two people (can be done with one, but it will take longer)
  • Sticky notes
  • Pen / Pencil
  • Receptacle (outlet) tester or lamp/plug-in light
  • Corded radio without batteries (if being done by only one person)
  • Label maker
  • Black or white on clear label tape
  • Flashlight

Roles

  1. Load Center Operator – This person will be in charge of manning the load center, also known as the circuit breaker panel. This person’s main job will be to turn on and off each circuit breaker as the other person, elsewhere in the house, awaits for a positive match of the outlet being tested.
  2. Outlet Watcher – This person is in charge of watching the outlet being tested. When the outlet in question turns on, the Outlet Watcher will immediately loudly call to the Load Center Operator to let them know they found the circuit. This person may have to yell very loudly as to be heard through various walls across the house. We recommend leaving the doors to all rooms and floor open to facilitate hearing. If being tested by only one person, they will assume both roles and use a radio to alert them to the found circuit.

Warning: Please note you will be near live electrical wires during this procedure and will be exposed to high EMF, especially at the circuit breaker panel. Anyone that is highly sensitive to electricity / EMF should avoid doing this procedure themselves and should get assistance from others who do not have such sensitivities. In our home, the more EMF sensitive person took the role of the Outlet Watcher and was very careful not to come in contact with any live circuits.

Step 1 – Locate Your Load Center (Circuit Breaker Panel)

The Load Center Operator should make sure they know where their circuit breaker panel is in the house and how to turn on and off the circuit breakers.

Step 2 – Make All of Your Outlets Easily Accessible

In order to quickly and efficiently test all of your outlets and light switches, it is best if they are all easily accessible. You will be testing all outlets and switches including light switches and switches for turning on switched outlets. Move any furniture or objects blocking outlets or switches so that you may reach them. Even if you have gadgets plugged into those hard-to-reach outlets that will allow you to test if they are live, you must still make them accessible so they can be properly labeled. In our experience, if you do not label an outlet, you will eventually lose track of what circuit it is on. One day when you need to know that forgotten outlet’s circuit to properly optimize the devices and EMF in your home, you’ll find yourself repeating this exercise.

Step 3 – Shut Down Your Electrical Devices

Shut down any computers, sensitive electronics or other devices that should be turned off before a black-out. Turn off your HVAC at the thermostat. Like a computer, the HVAC does much better if it is able to shut itself off properly before losing power. Once you turn the HVAC off at the thermostat, it will likely continue running for several minutes as it redistributes the coolant and prepares itself to be in an off state. Listen to make sure that the HVAC is shut off completely before continuing.

Step 4 – Get Your Outlet Test Equipment Ready

The Load Center Operator should plug the receptacle (outlet) tester into an outlet and make sure it is working. If you don’t have a receptacle tester, you can use a table lamp, radio or other device that will give you immediate feedback that the circuit is on.

For those doing this exercise by themselves: If you are doing the testing alone, use a radio so you can hear across the house when it is on or off. Plug your radio into a outlet in a room as far away from your circuit breaker panel as possible. Turn on the radio and increase the volume as much as needed for you to be able to hear it when you are at the circuit breaker panel. Go to the circuit breaker panel and verify that you can hear the radio.

If you are using a lamp, radio or other gadget, make sure you leave it turned on from this point forward. If you accidentally turn off the gadget, you’re going to get very confused when you are testing various outlets and circuits as everything will register off even if they are on.

Step 5 – Turn Off All the Individual Circuit Breakers

The Load Center Operator should now go to the circuit breaker panel and turn off all of the individual circuit breakers. Do not turn off the main disconnect breaker that is usually labeled as such and at the very top of the panel, separated from the rest of the breakers. If you turn off the main disconnect breaker, then none of the circuits will work as that main disconnect breaker is the master shutoff for the house. Do not be concerned if you do not see a main disconnect breaker as sometimes it is in a different location from the circuit panel.

Each of the individual circuit breakers that you will want to turn off will usually be labeled with a number. These numbers may be a bit hard to see as they are usually stamped in the metal next to each breaker and will be the same color as the panel. If your circuit breakers somehow do not have numbers next to them, you will need to assign numbers to each circuit and label the circuits is you circuit breaker panel at this point.

As an aside, the Outlet Watcher may want to stand in the middle of the house with their eyes closed and try to feel for the difference in electrical energy of the house as the circuit breakers are turned off. In our own experience, we always notice a dramatic change as the power is turned off. It feels as if a huge zapping smog is lifted when we turn off the power. Note that the Load Center Operator won’t get to have this experience as they will be near the high EMF load center during this part.

Now the house is completely off and should be very quiet. Now we are ready to start testing outlets.

 Step 6 – Test An Outlet

For your first outlet, we recommend starting in a room in one corner of your house and working systemically by moving to the next room immediately to your right or left. If your house has multiple floors, start at the top floor or in the basement. It does not matter where you start as long as you maintain a consistent approach which will help you keep track of the rooms you’ve already tested.

Plug your receptacle tester / lamp / radio into an outlet. With the Outlet Watcher watching the outlet, the Load Center Operator should begin turning on and off each circuit at the breaker panel. Leave each circuit on for a few seconds to give the Outlet Watcher a chance to notice any change and then turn it off and move to the next circuit.

The Load Center Operator should not turn on and off dedicated circuits such as the HVAC, furnace, hot water heater, clothes dryer, microwave, stove, or disposal. These should be clearly labeled in the circuit breaker panel, and will not be shared with other items or outlets in the house. Just leave them off during your testing. This will save you time and clicking.

As soon as the plugged-in receptacle tester / lamp / radio turns on, the Outlet Watcher should IMMEDIATELY and LOUDLY call out to the Load Center Operator that they found it. At this point, the Load Center Operator should note the number of that circuit and leave that circuit ON.

Having found the circuit, the Load Center Operator should now go to join up with the Outlet Watcher. Write the circuit number on your sticky-note and affix it to the outlet. You have successfully labeled your first outlet.

Now it gets much faster.

Step 7 – Label Nearby Outlets

Usually in a home, outlets and overhead lights are clustered and grouped together into the same circuit. We can use this to our advantage and make the process of finding and labeling the outlets much faster.

At this point, the Load Center Operator will assume the role of unplugging and plugging in the receptacle tester into the various outlets in the rooms being tested. The Outlet Watcher will assume the role of labeling the outlets and switches. The Load Center Operator can now unplug the receptacle tester from the outlet that was just labeled. Now plug the tester into another outlet in the vicinity. The Outlet Watcher should follow behind and label each outlet that turns on with the same circuit number. Continue checking nearby outlets until you find you are mostly encountering dead outlets. Be sure to check overhead lights and all switches. For switched outlets, we recommend labeling both the switch and the outlet.

Please note: Light switches may come in groups of two or more, say in entrance-ways or kitchens where you can control multiple lights. The switches sharing the same switch-plate may or may not be part of the same circuit. Test each switch individually and label them individually. In areas where you have an outlet and a switch as part of the same plate, test each individually as well since they may be on different circuits.

Step 8 – Rinse And Repeat

Move to an adjacent area of the house with outlets and switches that you have not labeled. Plug in your tester into a un-powered outlet. Be sure to turn off the circuit you just finished labeling and repeat steps 6 and 7 for the new outlet being tested. The Load Center Operator can skip the circuits that have already been labeled. Continue this process until all of the outlets and switches in the house have been labeled.

During your testing, be sure to check any outlets you have attached to the outside of your house or located in unfinished areas such as an attic, garage, basement, or workshop area. These may need to be labeled a bit differently due to temperature and moisture considerations.

Step 9 – Label Missed Outlets / Switches

At this point you should have almost all of the house labeled. If all of your outlets, switches and other receptacles are labeled, you can skip this step.

If you have one or more unlabeled outlets or switches at this point, it is easy to find their circuits. Simply plug your tester into the unlabeled outlet and have the Load Center Operator go though ALL of the breakers in entirety, except for the dedicated breakers. If it is a light switch, turn the switch to the on position while the Load Center Operator tests each circuit. Call out as soon as you find the circuit and label the outlet or switch. Do this step for each unlabeled outlet or switch as each one could be on any circuit.

Step 10 – Turn Back On The House

You are now ready to turn back on the house. If you are enjoying the tranquility of a much-lower EMF house, you can take the time now to create permanent labels with a label maker and permanently label all your receptacles before turning the circuits on (step 11). Those who are EHS and extremely sensitive should complete step 11 at this point before turning the house back on. When you are ready, turn on each breaker until all circuits that you want are turned back on. You may now turn back on your HVAC and other devices.

Step 11 – Permanently Label the Outlets

Now you are ready to make permanent labels for the outlets and switches. We find that “black on clear” label tape works best for our white-colored outlet covers. We use the smallest font possible, as we want the labeling to be very subtle. We think they look great and don’t find that it detracts from the aesthetics in any way. Although the font is small, it is very easy to read when we want to find out what circuit an outlet or light belongs to.

Enter the number of the circuit into the label maker and print a label for each outlet or switch from the same circuit. We find that we can save time (and label maker tape) by counting the number of outlets or switches from the same circuit and repeating the number into the label maker as many times as needed with a few spaces between each entry. Then we print it out as one strip and cut them apart with scissors, leaving a 1/4″ margin around the numbers. Now stick ’em on, press ’em down and we’re done.

Be sure to label all outlets and the individual switches throughout the house with permanent labels and don’t wait too long to complete this step as the sticky notes will eventually fall off and you will lose all the work you’ve done.

Step 12 – Put Your Furniture Back

Now you can put your house back together and pretend nothing happened. When friends come over, you can show off your prowess at identifying what circuit each of your appliances is plugged into. You’ll be the life of the party for sure. :-)

Oh, and if you’re using a radio and it is still blaring, you can turn that off now too.

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About Todd

I want this world to be a better place where we can all live happy and productive lives. I want our hearts and hands to reach out to those in need - humans, creatures and nature. I want us all to reach a place of balance where we do what’s right above all else. But until that world is, I will work my hardest to make it so.

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