Breaker question and What the Heck is This?

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Old 02-12-08, 10:16 AM
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Breaker question and What the Heck is This?

Hope someone can help and please pardon my ignorance. I know very little about breakers, wiring etc. so I'll need basic answers. I have a query about breakers and a mysterious humming thing.

Last night our power went out briefly. I checked the breakers for probably the first time since moving into the house 6 months ago. One of the breakers was OFF. It didn't appear to have been tripped as it would have been in the middle right? and not all the way OFF? I turned it on briefly and did not have to switch it to OFF first to switch ON. So it could not have been on before and tripped right?

With it off, I checked all of our rooms and everything is working. The switch that is off is a larger "double" switch that says 30. Previously it was marked as water heater. But below this breaker is a 15 that says water heater, dryer.

Is it possible that this breaker was once for an old water heater, maybe electric? Our water heater is newer and gas, installed before we moved here. Is it common to have a breaker OFF and not in use at all?

My second question is regarding a humming piece of equipment near the breaker box. It says SNAPIT on it. It also says CHIME 16Volts-10VA. At times it is a low hum. At times, louder and more noticeable. It has lots of old wires hooked up to it. Some lead somewhere, others are just hanging. I'm scared to touch it. What on earth is it? I'm attempting to insert an image. Hope it works.
http://bicycleportland.googlepages.com/electrical
 

Last edited by jakeerker; 02-12-08 at 10:17 AM. Reason: add link
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Old 02-12-08, 10:42 AM
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Finding a breaker like this is not all that uncommon. In many cases new hot water tanks are connected by plumbers or just installers and they will add new breakers but seldom will remove older ones, especially if removing it will cause them to install a cover over the opening normally they just don't have them and therefore just will leave well enough alone. sometimes the old breaker may be left in the panel if it is expected to be reused for something else in the furture.

The picture you sent appears to be that of a doorbell transformer, they do tend to hum. I can't tell if the wiring on this has wirenuts or tape or what eactly was used to terminate each wire which does tend to worry me a little as exposed connections even low voltage should be protected and insulated.
 
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Old 02-12-08, 10:50 AM
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The mystery breaker is likely for an electric water heater that has been replaced by gas. Leave it off. Not uncommon. Nice to have if you ever want to convert to electric.

The "humming piece of equipment" near the breaker box is your doorbell transformer. It's low voltage so no electrocution concern, but I would find the breaker that it's on, turn it off and clean up the wiring (remove all the wires that are just hanging and not connected to anything).

While you're working on the transformer: Now would be a good time to make sure you know what each and every breaker controls... Turn them off one at a time and note what doesn't have power. Tape your notes to the inside of the breaker panel door.

Doug M.
 
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Old 02-12-08, 11:25 AM
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Thanks very much. This has been extremely helpful. I have removed the offending transformer. What a relief to no longer have a mysterious loud humming unit in my home. Our doorbell is wireless so I didn't need the transformer anymore. I have cleaned up the old wires and inserted a new photo in the link below. Should probably put a cover on this junction?

Based on the photo, did I seemingly do this correctly?

thanks again

http://bicycleportland.googlepages.com/electrical
 
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Old 02-12-08, 12:00 PM
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Yes you have to put a blank cover on it after you remove the doorbell transformer off.

on other hand .,, you will have to find out where the old circuit from the double pole breaker hook up to and see where it goes if go to water heater location if you see wires there cap them off properly or remove the wire at the breaker if you feel conftable working on that.

all you have to do is unhook it and tape it up or wirenutted and make a note if you dont remove that wire from the box say "abanoned " at both breaker box location and the end of the cable where you will find it and mark it down as well.

Merci, Marc
 
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