Breaker bad?

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  #1  
Old 02-26-07, 01:27 PM
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Breaker bad?

I've had a problem with the breaker for my electric stove outlet. Last time I changed out a regular 15amp outlet elsewhere in the house I shut off all the breakers ( I know I don't need to shut everything off but since it's an older home I'd rather be safe than sorry ). When I turn all the breakers back on I noticed the stove wasn't getting hot. Even though I know I turned all the breakers back on I went to the stove breaker and turned it off and then on again and the stove worked fine. Today, I replaced another outlet, doing everything the same, except this time the stove breaker will not turn back on at all. It just flips back to off. My house was built in 1948 and the breaker looks pretty old. Is it most likely a bad breaker? I know breakers are pretty reliable but it seems in this case it may just be a bad one.
 
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Old 02-26-07, 01:33 PM
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> Is it most likely a bad breaker? I know breakers are pretty reliable but it
> seems in this case it may just be a bad one.

From your description, it sounds like the breaker is bad or going bad. What is the make and model of the breaker and panel?
 
  #3  
Old 02-26-07, 01:36 PM
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Unfortunately I cannot read what kind of panel it is. The paper on the inside lid is old and some parts are unreadable. I do know it does not seem to have a main breaker. There is no breaker by itself indicating main.
 
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Old 02-26-07, 01:47 PM
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> it does not seem to have a main breaker

Does the panel have a group of double (240V) breakers near the top and a group of single (120V) breakers near the bottom? Does one of the double breakers near the top turn off power to the bottom set of breakers? In this configuration, the range breaker would be in the top group. Does this description fit what you have?
 
  #5  
Old 02-26-07, 02:00 PM
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Well there is still the old fuse panel on the inside of the house. The breaker panel on the outside is where the stove breaker is. There is also one more subpanel with all new breakers and panel which contains most of the newer updated wiring. At the top left side of the panel with the stove breaker there are two 30 amp single breakers and below that is a 60amp double pole, and below that one is a double pole breaker where I can't even tell what the amps are. On the right side from top to bottom there is a 30 amp double, 30amp double, and 40 amp double.
 
  #6  
Old 02-26-07, 02:25 PM
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Is this the first panel after the meter or is it fed from another panel? It sounds like you have what it called a "split-bus" configuration. In this type of panel, up to six breakers are allowed to collectively act as the MAIN. This means that you need to switch off all six to cut power to the building. You may want to consider a service upgrade in the near future. Some of these old panels have held up well, but others are in really bad shape. Without seeing yours, it's hard to say.

The split-bus design is considered obsolete and in my opinion is unsafe. You must exercise extreme caution when working in a split-bus panel, as many components inside the panel cannot be de-energized. Furthermore, there is no upstream protection, so accidental contacts inside such panels can have disastrous outcomes. To further complicate matters, these panels are often small and provide little working room. Unless you are very confident in your abilities, hiring an electrician would be a good idea.

Finding a replacement breaker could be tricky. If you tackle this project on your own, take the old breaker to an electrical supply house and have them try to locate a suitable replacement. Do not shop at a home center store for this type of part as they are liable to sell you any breaker that looks about right regardless of its actual rating. A supply house should be able to locate a correct match.
 
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