main breaker buzzing

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  #1  
Old 12-05-05, 07:34 AM
carson2
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main breaker buzzing

I have recently noticed that the main breaker in my 200 amp box buzzes.
I seems to only buzz when the heat pump switches over to emergency electric coil heat.
The breaker that feeds the coils seem fine and hasn't tripped.
I can push on the main breaker and change the sound of the buzz or temperarely stop it by flipping the breaker off then back on.
In the last few monthes we upgraded our system from a 2 ton a 4 ton unit to cover an addition to the house.
Should I be concerned about fire and what should I check to find the problem?
 
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  #2  
Old 12-05-05, 08:14 AM
J
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It's vibrating under load. Perhaps the breaker is close to its tripping point. When you upgraded the system, did you do a demand load calculation? Perhaps your 200-amp service is now insufficient. I suggest you have an electrician do a demand load calculation on your house.

Note that HVAC contractors don't usually do such calculations, because they are afraid it might be a deal-breaker if the calculation shows that you need an electrical service upgrade first.
 
  #3  
Old 12-05-05, 07:08 PM
carson2
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Breakers

An update on my buzzing breaker.

I turned on the emergency heat so that the breaker would buzz.
Then turned on everything I could think of and no tripped breaker.
Then I started flipping off breakers to see if I could eliminate the buzz.
I ended up with every breaker flipped off except the 3 that ran the heat pump, and the buzz was still there.
So I assumed it wasn't on the verge of tripping, especially if the heat pump alone could make it buzz.
Next I called the heating and air people that installed our system to see if they had any idea what was up.
He asked about the power service.
We changed from a through the air to underground from the pole to the house (new copper).
He suggested that the wires into the service may need tightened or damage to the box or worse could happen.
Then I called an electrician.
He looked it over, checked out the load and said that the main breaker was becoming faulty.
The suggestion, a new main breaker, if he could find one (older box). $480...Or $1750 to put in new box.
That bit of info cost me $98...
Holy cow!!
He told me that it was nothing to pannic over but needed to be addressed.
Am I in immediate danger?
And is there any suggestions in what to look for in a new service box?
 
  #4  
Old 12-05-05, 07:09 PM
carson2
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Breakers

I'll be barrowing the retired electrician next door.
Much cheaper.
 
  #5  
Old 12-06-05, 08:54 AM
I
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Originally Posted by carson2
He looked it over, checked out the load and said that the main breaker was becoming faulty.
The suggestion, a new main breaker, if he could find one (older box). $480...Or $1750 to put in new box.
That bit of info cost me $98...
Holy cow!!
He told me that it was nothing to pannic over but needed to be addressed.
Am I in immediate danger?
And is there any suggestions in what to look for in a new service box?
It sounds like his diagnosis is reasonable. Main breakers do fail over time and will sometimes need replacement. As long as there is no arcing or heat damage, there is no immediate danger. You should be thankful you found the problem now before there was major damage.

A main breaker replacement is not a DIY job, so you will have to hire an electrician to do it for you. I think $480 is pretty steep for that job unless your breaker is exceptionally rare or there are some other circumstances we don't know about. Call around to other electrical contractors for estimates; they may give them for free over the phone if you can provide the make and model of your panel and main breaker.
 
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