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Did one leg of our 1950's 100 amp main breaker fry because it was overloaded?

Did one leg of our 1950's 100 amp main breaker fry because it was overloaded?

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  #1  
Old 08-07-05, 02:03 PM
beyondweb
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Did one leg of our 1950's 100 amp main breaker fry because it was overloaded?

Did one leg of our 1950's 100 amp main breaker fry because it was overloaded by too many dedicated circuits?

We have a main breaker with two "legs" outside our house and our main panel inside. Last week, an electrician installed 4 new dedicated circuits -- one each for microwave, kitchen lights, and 2 bathrooms. Yesterday, one "leg" of the main breaker fried turning off all the electricity to the kitchen (except the fridge thankfully!) and 2 baths. Today, since one "leg" still works, he did a temp fix and wired everything to that one leg so at least we've got lights in the kitchen and bathrooms. The kitchen lights are buzzing tho...

So, is it just coincidence that everything was working fine until he put in the 4 dedicated circuits? He ONLY worked on the kitchen and 2 bathrooms and it was ONLY the kitchen and 2 bathrooms that were without electricity. He didnít work on the fridge outlet tho and that was the only outlet still working when the others went out. Iím kinda wondering why he put all 4 on that one "leg." Did he overload it? Did he do something else that heís not being upfront about? Or is it really just coincidence?

Any suggestions on what to do next? Please help me troubleshoot.

Thanks!
Monica
 
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  #2  
Old 08-07-05, 03:14 PM
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Monica,

Now this is very hard to say and in defense of the electrician we are not their to give it a look see but I would not assume he/she is not being upfront with you.

These circuits are not what I would call so " dedicated " that they would cause a panel buss to fry as you have stated as their draw does not seem to alarm me to be honest with you.

Now if the main breaker was going...the added load and heat may have pushed it over the top or something could have happened in the panel to cause it but again just adding a microwave circuit, bathroom circuits and a few lights to me in a panel with actual SPACE to add them would not do any damage to the main breaker without throwing the entire breaker itself.

I think you are just going to have to get that electrician back out their to look a it and since the issue is with the circuits HE/SHE added then under their service warranty they should check the situation and I am sure they can fix this for you.

Also you can ask Him/Her to put the leg on a AMP PROBE METER and actually see the draw on that leg but chances are the main breaker as the issue and should be something they can fix for you...not something you are going to be advised to do yourself.

P.S. Also this is 2005 so that main breaker is 55 years old....breakers do go bad and with added heat and load it very well could have taken it's due.
 
  #3  
Old 08-07-05, 03:26 PM
beyondweb
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Thanks for the advice!

He is coming back out later this week to replace the main breaker panel ($650). And he charged me ($75) today for coming out. He said that the power going out had nothing to do with his work.

I guess I'm just trying to find out if there are any other questions I should be asking.
 
  #4  
Old 08-07-05, 07:52 PM
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I would agree that the power going out had nothing to do with the problem. If the new circuits actually overloaded one leg the breaker should have tripped, not burned up.
$650 sounds like a very good price to replace the main panel.
 
  #5  
Old 08-08-05, 05:26 AM
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I agree as well.....if the $ 650.00 is for a service change ( not upgrade ) then I would say that is a fair price. If it happens to be just a main breaker change then it is a bit high probably.

Here is the key for you......ask the Electrician to provide you with a material list once completed so you know what was done and what was used and I think you will see the problem was coming soon regardless of the new circuits that were added.
 
  #6  
Old 08-08-05, 06:07 AM
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Ok, am I the only one who sees a problem with this scenario? First of all, I am going to assume that the original poster already had kitchen lights, a microwave, a fridge, and bathrooms drawing the same power before the electrician came, as after the electrician did their handiwork. So my question is, were any breakers tripping before the electrician came out? What was the need for the dedicated circuits? You say everything worked fine before the electrician was called.

Second, it sounds like the electrician put too many loads on one "leg" and caused an overcurrent of some kind. Ask him if he properly balanced the loads when he installed those dedicated circuits.

Third, of course the electrician is going to say it was not him causing the problems. He does not want to have to pay for what problems he MAY have caused. I would get a second opinion from another electrician. This all seems very fishy.

Edited to add: If this circuit is close to being overloaded and this was a problem a long time coming, then the electrician should suggest a service upgrade. Replacing the main breaker with another 100 Amp breaker could cost you $650, but consider that you might be tripping that breaker too in a short while, and then you will be looking at a much more expensive service upgrade anyways.

This is my take. The dedicated circuits were all put on one leg, causing an overload which caused the old main breaker (which was already worn down from age) to fail. Again, I would get a second opinion from an independent third party. Was this work inspected? If not, I would get a certified electrical inspector in there before this other guy returns.

Good luck, Dave
 
  #7  
Old 08-08-05, 07:23 AM
beyondweb
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Appreciate all the replies!

In answer to the questions:

None of the breakers were tripping before he came out.

He installed new recessed lighting in the kitchen, new exhaust fans in the bathrooms and a new light in the master shower. He originally didn't recommend new dedicated lines but after another electrician recommended it and we asked him about it, he then said he would add them "if it were his house."
 
  #8  
Old 08-08-05, 08:26 AM
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If the MCB was located outside and the enclosure was exposed to sunlight and hot temperatures, this condition, in addition to an "old" ( 1950-95 ) MCB may have caused the problem.

Good Luck & Enjoy the Experience!!!!!!!
 
  #9  
Old 08-08-05, 08:28 AM
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Oppps--- it's 2005 -----well, that's Monday-Morning
 
  #10  
Old 08-09-05, 08:28 AM
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DZ,

in my opinion what was unbalanced...the loads listed do not draw much in relation to the question of...." DID the circuits shut down while the user was using the microwave or so on " which was not stated.

So in an electrician adding a few didicated lines which are not constant draws I do not feel overloading the leg would do it...heck at this point the QUICK FIX has now technically overloaded the ENTIRE leg left in the panel and it seems to be working.

I tend to believe in old panels once someone gets into it and changes things and works around it in could weaken something, cause possible issues and I am not saying the electrician did it....( gotta support my bretheren ) but again could be possible.

OK...AGAIN i am not much on the overloaded theory UNLESS the original posted says something was being DONE when this happened....just adding circuits with no load on them will not overload a panel...so if the guy says....yes, I had the microwave going.....drying my hair with a 1200W hair dryer and my daughter was doing the same and the lights on in the kitchen......I would think that....but no evidence has been given this was the case....

Panels are overloaded based on DRAW...and overheating due to the excessive draw and I do not see this right now......

I will agree getting another electrician to evaluate is good IF the person is in question...meaning if it makes them feel better to calm any nerves about being ripped off.....then fine but I do not subscribe to the theory the electrician is out to make problems to fix problems to make more money....harder to do that and if the electrician is like me...we do not like to have to go back....

JUST my Opinion.....
 

Last edited by ElectricalMan; 08-09-05 at 08:48 AM.
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