Can't remove breaker from panel


  #1  
Old 10-21-08, 08:43 AM
J
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Can't remove breaker from panel

Hello Everyone,

I am pretty sure I know what the problem is here, but I'd just like to get a second (or third!) opinion.

Last night I was helping a friend repair his pool pump. He just installed a new motor (bearings went bad in the old one) but it wouldn't run. I went over there with my meter and starting at the panel (a 200 amp main lug "Challenger" brand). With the 20 amp double pole breaker for the pool pump on, I measured 0 volts across the two screws on the breaker. I immediately diagnosed the problem as a breaker or bus bar failure. The breaker doesn't "feel" quite right either when you switch it on and off. I tried to remove the breaker so my friend could get a replacement but it would not budge. I didn't want to break anything so I left it in there.

I then went to check the wiring at the motor (after switching the breaker off) and both hot leads were wired to the same terminal on the motor - causing a short. Just for kicks, I fixed the short and switched the breaker on and the pool pump fired right up. I checked the voltage across the breaker again and got 240V.

I think he probably needs, at the VERY least a new breaker - possibly a new panel for the following reasons:
1. The breaker cannot be removed from the panel using normal human force
2. The breaker did not trip when a short was present

Do you guys concur with my assessment?

Thanks,

- Joe
 
  #2  
Old 10-21-08, 10:42 AM
B
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It is working now?

I always say if it works, don't fix it!

I would have your friend check the breaker to be sure it is not hot to the touch. If the breaker is hot or warm, then best to turn off the pump and call an electrician.
 
  #3  
Old 10-21-08, 10:45 AM
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P.S. As to the breaker "not tripping", this does not make sense? There would have been melted wire, sparks flying, or the main breaker tripped???
 
  #4  
Old 10-21-08, 11:34 AM
J
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I agree it is strange, but that's what I observed with my own eyes and with the Fluke meter. After we got the pump working last night, I let the pump run and then felt the breaker and it was the same temp as the other breakers.

On a separate note, the panel had 2 neutral bars and a separate ground bar (this panel is technically a sub-panel with no main breaker). I didn't see any obvious tie between the two neutral bars which I thought was strange. Interestingly, there were very few neutral wires going to the neutral bar that the SE neutral isn't plugged into - those circuits are probably dead!
 
  #5  
Old 10-21-08, 04:11 PM
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Well if the breaker in fact did not trip and there was a dead short and the breaker was on, then I'll change what I said above to...

Probably best to replace that breaker. And if it won't come out and it is an old panel which looks like it needs replacing anyway, then I suppose the best thing is to replace the panel.

Best to be sure that breaker will trip if there is a short!
 
  #6  
Old 10-21-08, 04:35 PM
B
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I have run into several Challenger breakers that would not trip. Seems to be a common problem with some of them. As far as the breaker not coming out, this to is a common problem. I have had to pry them out with a screwdriver on several occasions. This can be dangerous if you are not very carefull. I suspect that the breaker has welded itself to the buss. The thermal overload on the pump motor probably tripped before any other real damage happened (sparks, main tripping, etc).
If there are any vacant openings in the panel install a new breaker there and hook the pump to it. Red tag the old breaker and do not use it. Put a label on the breaker and on the panel schedule stating that the breaker is bad. Make it visable to blind people.

B
 
 

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