GTE Sylvania breaker tripping

Reply

  #1  
Old 08-19-06, 09:26 AM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 8
GTE Sylvania breaker tripping

Hello, First I would like to thank all of the people that make this possible, over the last few days I've been doing research on my problem and this site has been very helpfull.

My problem started this summer, I live in south florida and the AC has been working hard to keep the house cool, The house was built in 1980 and as I just found out it has a discontinued GTE sylvania breaker box. The problem was that the 60amp breaker for the AC would trip randomly sometimes 3 times a day some days not at all. Closer inspection revealed the breaker working a little warm to the touch. none of the other breakers, water heater, stove, etc felt warm at all. I could also hear arcing noices at the breaker when the AC was on by placing ear on breaker. My initial idea was to replace the breaker.

After some research I come to find out that these are no longer made, It looks that these GTE sylvania breakers are very similar to Zinsco, but I think Zinco is also no longer made. I also found out that there is a company called UB Inc. that currently makes compatible breakers, My local Home depot has 30amp UB inc breakers that look very similar to the ones I have, unfortunately they do not stock 60amp.

I could buy used Zinsco or Sylvania breakers from ebay, or change the box. I found this page on Zinsco/Sylvania boxes that wasn't pretty, it looks like they tend to FRY?!

http://www.inspect-ny.com/electric/Zinsco.htm

I desided to take an even closer look and see if mine was on its way of burning the house, so VERY carefuly since these boxes have no main breaker, I remover all the 240v breakers for a closer inspection. I noticed black marks on the aluminum bars where the breakers make contact, so with my trusty dremel I made the bars nice and shiny, There was no physical damage to the bars, nor powder buildup, it just looked like contact dirt. I also used a fine gird sandpaper on the breaker contacts and a small screw driver to bend the contacts for a tighter connection. After reasembly the AC breaker no longer makes arcing noice, and the temperature has not increase on the breaker. I will monitor closely for a few days.

I'm thinking of doing this cleanup to the rest of the 120v breakers. What are your recomendations?

Should I spend $30 on a set (15) of assorted used Zinsco breakers on ebay for a rainy day?

Should I be looking into a complete swap? Again there was no visible damage to this breakers so why swap? If swapping ever happens what are the breakers that people use now? again I'm looking for a good value. I notice home depot sells complete boxes with assorted breakers starting at $100, is this OK?
How much will a swap cost? parts and labor?

Thanks in advance.
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 08-19-06, 10:06 AM
nap's Avatar
nap
nap is offline
New Member
Join Date: May 2006
Location: north
Posts: 4,163
What you did was at best a stop gap measure to slow down the fire.

The problem still exists. The clasp on the breaker is still weak. ALthough you may have tighetened it (something that should never be done actually but in a bad or worse scenario, I can see the benefit) The metal itself often fatigues or is not even originally able to hold the correct tension (a metalurgical problem that bending the clasp will not cure). Heat causes the same thing to happen.



By polishing the buss (the metal the breakers attach to ) you have actually made them smaller so this can increase your problem.


BTW: do not use a breaker in a box unless it is UL listed to be there. ALthough it may fit (or seem to fit) there may be differences you are not aware of that may cause you problems. There are some aftermarket breakers that are UL listed to go into other name brand boxes but never install one brand of breaker into another brand box UNLESS it is UL listed for the application. Insurance companies can deny coverage if this would cause a fire.

It is time to replace your panel NOW! before this condition has a chance to return witrh possible catastrophic results.

Dump the entire panel. Any repair is only prolonging the inevitable. I prefer square D. I have had the absolute least amount of trouble with brand over any other.
 
  #3  
Old 08-19-06, 06:18 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 8
Thanks, Great advice, This definelty dumps the idea of buying use breakers on ebay, I rather save the money for a new box. If anyone else can comment on my other questions I would appreciate it. Thanks. Mainly what brand is home depot selling? Where can I get square D? How much? parts / labor?

I'm not looking at exact numbers just a rough estimante, I don;t want to make the mistake I did with a clogged toilet once, I dialed Roto rooter or what not, guy came in offered no warranty for using a 10 foot snake on the toiled, I said go ahead, he did his thing toiled was still clogged and I was down $110, offered to use a longer snake for another outrageous price ...I sent him packing and drove to home depot to get my own 25' snake for $20 or so, and unclogged it myself.

nothing like doing it yourself
 
  #4  
Old 08-19-06, 06:48 PM
Member
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Wet side of Washington state.
Posts: 18,399
Home Depot sells Square D, both the high-quality QO style and the acceptable Homeline style. I personally would not use the Homeline.

What other questions do you have that are not answered by a new service panel?
 
  #5  
Old 08-19-06, 06:54 PM
nap's Avatar
nap
nap is offline
New Member
Join Date: May 2006
Location: north
Posts: 4,163
HD does carry some square D. The other big box stores do as well.

If you are doing a direct panel replacement and not a service upgrade, you can go online and find a comparable panel (main breaker size) and then look up what breakers you need to replace yours.

I am no good at doling out labor costs but they are specific to your area. If sombody else wants to give you a number, where you live would help them .

The size of your service would help too. (100 amp, 200 amp, etc.)


If you service is fully used, you may consider an upgrade to a larger service. If you have a 60 amp service, you are going to have to upgrade to at least a 100 amp service.
 
  #6  
Old 08-20-06, 12:48 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 8
Originally Posted by nap
HD does carry some square D. The other big box stores do as well.

If you are doing a direct panel replacement and not a service upgrade, you can go online and find a comparable panel (main breaker size) and then look up what breakers you need to replace yours.

I am no good at doling out labor costs but they are specific to your area. If sombody else wants to give you a number, where you live would help them .

The size of your service would help too. (100 amp, 200 amp, etc.)


Thanks, I'm in Miami, The GTE sylvania box has a split bus, on the main bus:
----------------------
60amp AC
50amp Stove
30amp Water heater
30amp Dryer
60amp to Secundary Bus
-----------------------
6 20amp
7 15amp
-----------------------

This pretty much takes most of the space, I think both buses have space for one more breaker.

Since I have no idea what I shoudl get I was just looking for suggestions. and rough estimates if possible, What do you mean by service fully used?
 
  #7  
Old 08-23-06, 04:36 PM
Professor's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Aug 2006
Location: Sacramento
Posts: 32
Talking

wild,

You didn't specify if this is an inside panel or an outside panel. So, I am going out on a limb here and guessing that you are refering to an inside panel due to your statement that it does not have a main breaker.

You are looking for a price on a "panel change". In south florida this can be a tricky thing. You need to check on a few things to help you determine which price range you will fall into. First, if this is an inside panel, is there a conduit that runs from the inside panel to the outside panel? Many municipalities require this for a panel change to pass inspection. Some houses in so. fla. were wired in service entrance cable without ground so when the interior panel is changed they want a conduit with 4 wires.

Second, you mention in your last post that there is another bus being fed by a breaker. It sounds as if some additions have been made after the initial installation. If so, these would have to be done to code during the "change" in order to pass inspection.

If you hire this work out, then make sure that it is done by a licensed electrician and that a permit is pulled. Failure to do so can get you in pretty hot water if you get caught.

Now for the prices:
If this is a simple panel change of an interior panel and there is nothing that needs to be "cleaned up" to make this a code compliant installation, you are looking at $1000.00 to $1500.00.
However, if you need to do an inside and outside panel change you can pretty well expect to double these prices. You will find people who will do them for less but, they are generally not licesned and or have no liability insurance.

That Sylvania is a problem waiting to happen, change it as soon as possible.

Good Luck!

"Left the hurricanes for the earthquakes"
 
  #8  
Old 08-29-06, 08:46 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 8
thanks

Thanks professor,

Sorry for the delay, I wish I could get an e-mail notification when there's an reply, Don't know how to subscribe to the thread ;(

Well this is an inside panel, in the garage. For what I can tell only three BIG wires go into it. The meter is on the opposite side of the house and it looks like the wires are routed under the concrete slab on the floor. Outside I can see about a 2" pipe come from the ground about 6' to the meter then back down into the ground. The wires in the garage come in from the bottom of the box. I've been to the attick and I've never seen these 3/4" or so diameter cables. so my guess they are under the ground.

The panel has two buses by design. The power comes to the first bus directly, NO breaker inside or outside this bus is always hot unless the meter is removed. This bus is small and only has about 5 big breakers for mayor appliances There's a breaker 60amp that powers the secondary bus which controls everything else with 20 and 15 amp breakers about 13 in total.

Thanks for the price estimates, this will give my a good starting point. Good luck with the earthquakes but no thanks, At least you can always runaway from the hurricanes...They are SLOW!

We almost had one right now, but it looks like it'll be a tropical storm! dodged another bullet!
 
Reply

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
Display Modes