Shorted Circuit Breaker


Old 09-15-05, 10:26 PM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Shorted Circuit Breaker

American location - House built in 1969. We noticed lights flickering in some of our basement rooms this week. I identified the proper breaker for those rooms & when I turned it back on, sparks appeared around the switch behind the panel. After I turned the switch back off, I read about replacing it on this site. My question is, does the whole box need to be replaced? In other words, is this one switch shorting out a sign that the others will need to be replaced in the near future? House is 36 years old. Thanks -
Sponsored Links
Old 09-16-05, 07:01 AM
HandyRon's Avatar
Join Date: Dec 2001
Location: New York
Posts: 1,365
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
The whole panel does not necessarily need to be replaced. The panel however needs to be inspected for arcing and burn marks. Each breaker should be checked that it is seated well (not loose) and if bolted type, have the CB's re-torqued. Re-torque the conductors on each breaker.
Old 09-16-05, 08:25 AM
ElectricalMan's Avatar
Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: Harrisonburg
Posts: 744
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
As ron said......the main thing is to check that breaker as if their is a gap that has developed between the contact points of the breaker and the contact bar you can get things like you have stated happening.

Be very careful when working in a panel.......remember their is LIVE parts to this assembly.

If the breaker is a push in style the contact points may have pulled way apart and usually can be seen as a very loose breaker...wiggles alot so to speak.

Breakers are quite cheap.....but you need to examine this area around the connection as Ron said for any signs of arc or heat buildup and also it could simply be a breaker going bad.....

Give the entire panel a visual look over and look for things that just seem odd, areas of black burning due to arcing and so on....

Let us know what you find out and by all means...BE CAREFUL when doing anything in a service panel.
Old 09-16-05, 08:38 AM
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: CA
Posts: 2,041
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
If the arcing was internal to the breaker, just replace it. If the arcing was behind, then you have to check to see if the buss that the breaker connects to was damaged by the arcing. If it has been, then the new breaker may not make a good connection. You may be able to see this visually, but any detailed inspection or repair is best left to an electrician.
Old 09-16-05, 09:56 AM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Thanks for the tips everyone. I'll be careful!
Old 09-16-05, 07:26 PM
Visiting Guest
Posts: n/a
Breaker Update

We changed the breaker but when I turned it on, there was a sort of sizzling noise (no sparks this time) that came from the new one and no power still in any of the rooms supplied by it. BTW - There was no evidence of the prior sparking on the old breaker, the buss bars or the surrounding breakers. Any ideas???
Old 09-16-05, 07:30 PM
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: Central New York State
Posts: 13,973
Received 0 Votes on 0 Posts
Sounds like you have a problem with the circuit. Time to isolate portions of the circuit and find the problem.

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Ask a Question
Question Title:
Your question will be posted in: