Residential Circuit Breaker Problem


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Old 02-21-09, 10:26 AM
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Residential Circuit Breaker Problem

I have a 15 amp Federal Pacific Stab-Lok circuit breaker that keeps tripping. In the house the lights flicker every once in a while. On the circuit I have mainly lights and an old GE upright freezer. When it does trip and when I switch it back sometimes I hear a spark like noise which eventually goes away. I suspect the obvious which is probably the load my freezer requires and maybe the circuit breaker. Any ideas? Also on this circuit the breaker is a 15 Amp and the wiring is at least 10/2 or 12/2. Would it be acceptable to replace the 15 Amp circuity breaker with a 20 Amp circuit breaker? Without even looking I'm assuming that the outlets are probably 15 Amp. The house I live in was built in 1969.
 
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Old 02-21-09, 10:43 AM
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If you're sure that everything on the circuit is 12 then it will be ok to change it to a 20. However, I'm suspecting where the breaker attaches to the buss may be the issue. I would remove the breaker and check for hot spots at that point.
 
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Old 02-21-09, 10:58 AM
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Stab-loks have a very small contact area with the buss. They do not seat very securely and can arc when loose. Arcing will destroy the buss and can cause other problems. I have taken the covers off those panels and had a handful of breakers just hanging on the wires.

I would get this checked ASAP.
 
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Old 02-21-09, 11:35 AM
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I agree with PCboss with the stablocks I ran into that few time and I pulled the cover off and get few breakers fell off on me.
{ my customer did have to change his underwear when he saw all the breakers fell off }

The result is that end up putting in new loadcentre.

So anytime you get the cover off the safest way is turn off the main breaker first on the Stablock if there otherwise turn off all the breakers off before you remove the cover the reason why I say that due some of the breaker may be under the load and when the breaker fall off it will arc a bit and it can damage anything is plugged on { this is true with MWBC set up if not carefull }

Merci,Marc
 
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Old 02-21-09, 11:37 AM
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There is probably a good reason that #12 wire is connected to a 15 ampere circuit breaker. It could be as simple as the installer didn't have any 20 ampere breakers when the installation was made OR it could be that some part of the circuit has #14 wire. Since the only way you can be sure the ENTIRE circuit is #12 is to inspect every inch of the system it is probably not a good idea to install a larger breaker.

Federal Pacific panels have a poor reputation in the US and most professional electricians and inspectors recommend they be replaced sooner rather than later.
 
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Old 02-21-09, 12:23 PM
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Well the spark sound was an arc. I removed the panel and flipped the breaker and it was arcing. I turned off the main and went to unscrew the wire and it just basically fell apart, which explains the arcing and everything else. Man I really had to pry and destroy that thing to get it out.
 
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Old 02-21-09, 12:27 PM
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I have opened the panel before so I know all of them were secured. Maybe a little too secured . Thanks guys!
 
 

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