When Breakers Fail


Old 01-11-06, 05:28 PM
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Question When Breakers Fail

I have an old Push-Matic breaker panel in my house. I've lived here 10 years and never had a breaker trip.

1) Do breakers ever fail to operate properly?
(I've seen breakers trip occassionally at many places--but again, never at my house.)
2.) Is there any history or problems with Push-Matic breakers or panels? (Aside from them being a little outdated.)
3.) Can a breaker stick in the OPEN or CLOSED position?
4.) What might cause them to fail?
5.) What is the specific mechanism (beyond excess current) that causes a breaker to trip normally?
Thanks a million.
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Old 01-11-06, 06:26 PM
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1. yes
2. can't answer this one
3. yes
4. excessive trips, excessive use (as in use as a switch when not rated as such), power surge
5. varies
Old 01-11-06, 07:03 PM
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I'll add my opinions:

1) Yes. Google "Federal Pacific breakers"and you'll see. Most failed typical breakers will fail to reset to on. I have only seen FPE breakers fail to actually trip.

2) Can't answer, other than to say I have seen many which will not reset unless tried several times.

3) I have seen many trip, but the handle stick to "open". Touching the handle, or actually turning it off will reveal the trip.

4) Excessive tripping, age, abuse, excessive overloading.

5) I don't have theoretical specifics except that breakers have two trip functions: Magnetic overload trip is for short circuits and thermal overload trip is for overcurrent.
Old 01-11-06, 07:11 PM
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I cam answer (2). When I lived in Garden Grove, CA. The house I owned used Push-Matic breakers, I had to replace a number of them over the years do to breaker failure. They were not very realiable.
Old 01-12-06, 08:48 AM
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I have never heard of Pushmatic breakers being a safety hazard by failing to trip on an overload, but I have heard of the mechanisms wearing out and the breaker cannot be reset.
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