Heat in Breaker Box

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  #1  
Old 08-11-02, 09:22 PM
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Phonetek
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Heat in Breaker Box

I notices while working in my basement near my breaker box that my breaker box was warm. I opened the door on it and there was a few breakers were extremely warm. They didn't burn my fingers or anything but I was a bit shocked (no pun intended) at the amount of heat they were putting out. They seem to be like this constantly as I have been checking frequently. At these times I don't notice that too many things in the house are running. It's the same during the day as they are at night with more things running. I can't imagine this is a normal function of the breaker box. I also would like to add that the breakers have yet to trip for any reason. If this is a potential problem and you have suggestions let me know. Thanks!!
 
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  #2  
Old 08-11-02, 09:31 PM
A
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Re:

First check the beaker terminals and see if the screws are not loose. Then remove the beakers and look at where they stab into their spades and look for burning or discoloration, also check the breaker box for discoloration or bluing. if nothing is seen check the load on them with a amp meter.
let us know what you find.
 
  #3  
Old 08-11-02, 09:37 PM
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Captain Avenger
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Before I can answer you logically, I need to know a few things:

What size electrical service do you have?

Is it 100 amp? Or 200 amp? Or something in between?

(You can tell by looking at the main breaker).



First tell me that and please post back. Do this observation check first.


Captain A.
 
  #4  
Old 08-11-02, 10:00 PM
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Phonetek
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Well, the main breaker is 200amp but the drop from the meter is #3 cable instead of 2-3/0 like it should be so to answer your question the service coming from the power company is probably no more than 100amp but there is as I said 200amp main in the box. As far as finding anything loose, I have checked to make sure all the breakers are seated properly and that all wire connections are clean and tight. I notice the ground is not too great coming to the box as the pipe the drop comes into isn't clamped to the top of the box its just stuck threw the nockout. I can't imagine that is proper. I haven't pulled the breakers out to check for bluing but I would be willing to bet that it has happend since it don't take much heat to cause copper to blue. Hope this helps. Thanks for the very quick replies!
 
  #5  
Old 08-11-02, 11:42 PM
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Also just curious,, What brand of panel do you have?
 
  #6  
Old 08-12-02, 05:10 PM
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Sounds like someone changed from a 100 amp rated existing panel with 100 amp service conductors to a 200 amp rated panel without changing the service conductors to 200 amps.

Just to confirm what I said above is the conductors connecting to your 200 amp main breaker the size of your little finger or the size of your thumb approximately?

Let us know if you found any bluing or bubbling of insulation in that panel around the hot spot.

Also tell us if the hot spot is warm breakers or warm wires connecting to those breaker. You will have to take the panel cover off and touch the insulated part of the wires to feel for conductors heating. Be sure to check to see if those conductors connecting to your main breaker are heating also.

Then let us know what you find.

Wg
 
  #7  
Old 08-12-02, 08:17 PM
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Phonetek
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The panel is a Square D thank god but the breakers aren't the ones with the little window on them. I removed the cover and did not see any bluing on the breakers when I pulled them out. Also, the wire that feeds into it is the old sheeth that is cloth so bubbling wouldn't happen on it. It still seems soft and not dried and brittle but none the less the wires are warm as well. I notice that all of the breakers are like that as are the wires. Still baffled.
 
  #8  
Old 08-12-02, 08:50 PM
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Another curiosity question. Why wouldn you want the ones with the little windows on them?
 
  #9  
Old 08-12-02, 09:26 PM
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Phonetek
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If I would have installed the breaker box those are the ones I would have put in (the breakers with the windows) but I just bought this house and the guy who installed this "Upgraded box" was a knucklehead and by no means any type of electrician. I was saying thank god it was a square D box not thank god they weren't the breakers with the window. I think the way I typed it, it could have been taken more than one way. Sorry about that. I do not believe in anything but square D for breaker boxes. I have had enough nightmares with GE in the past. Again, thanks for the quick reply!!
 
  #10  
Old 08-12-02, 09:34 PM
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Captain Avenger
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My suggestion

My suggestion is to first feel the main breaker. I agree with Wgoodrich that someone at one point swapped out a 100 amp panel and replaced it with a 200 amp panel and never upgraded the wiring.

Perhaps it is at the connection to the main breaker that there is excessive heat. Feel the main breaker and let me know if it feels hot. Then feel the breakers just below it. Let us know if they are all equally as warm, or if some are warmer than others.

Then feel the breakers at the bottom of the panel and let us know how they feel.

Captain
 
  #11  
Old 08-12-02, 09:39 PM
C
Captain Avenger
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More specifically

You can "feel the breaker" by just feeling the face of it with the panel cover still on. Just wanted to clarify.


CA
 
  #12  
Old 08-12-02, 09:40 PM
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Well worth the money to buy a clamp on amprobe too. Gets rid of a lot of guessing.
 
  #13  
Old 08-13-02, 08:49 PM
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Phonetek
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Okay, as far as the heat. The hottest one is the main. The next hottest is the 240 breakers such as the garage feed, dryer ect. Then the 115 single breakers are the coolest of them all. I may take you up on purchasing an ampprobe. I have always wanted one anyways, now I have a reason to justify it. Hee hee. I'm also gonna go to an electrical supply house later this week and pick up so 2/0 cable and have the power company pull the meter so I can rerun the feed and fix the ground. It's probably not the fix but its probably a good starting poing and it sure couldn't hurt. Any other ideas let me know! Thanks everyone for your suggestions so far.
 
  #14  
Old 08-13-02, 10:12 PM
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Captain Avenger
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No - it probably IS the fix. If you say that the main breaker is the hottest, then I would assume that the undersized wire feeding the main breaker is the culprit. If you (get a permit and an inspection) replace the undersized wiring, post back and tell us how things have cooled off. Please make sure no power is on when you replace the wiring. Remember - if the power co. just pulls the meter out then the top half of the meter is still LIVE. Just be aware and be careful when you do the replacement.


Captain Avenger

PS - I am taking a poll. What color cape would you say I should wear and why.
 
  #15  
Old 08-15-02, 08:01 PM
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Phonetek
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Oh dont worry I always double and triple check for voltage before I work with Electric. Even if the meter is out, my multimeter will be by my side and checking. Being a technician even though I'm in telecom I have gotten zapped more times that I care to remember so I have nothing but the utmost respect for electricity. Especially since my hair is straight again!

As for your cape:

Since you are our electrical superhero you have to decide what type of superhero you want to be a Hot, Neutral or Grounded Superhero?

In that case then it is obvious. If your Hot you can make it black, unless your going to be a 3 way then it can be red.

If your going to be a Neutral Superhero then of course it should be a white cape.

If you going to be a Grounded Superhero then you have no need for a cape since you wont fly.

I hope that will help you figure it out. Personal observation, I started this thread with a perfectly serious question and now look what I have made it become. Heehee

I will let you know how it turns out, thanks!
 
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