Main Breaker Trips -- Conflicting Information

Reply

  #1  
Old 07-15-13, 04:35 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 3
Main Breaker Trips -- Conflicting Information

Hi all,

Occasionally--especially on hot days when we're running a lot of electrical appliances (water heater, dryer, oven, microwave, etc) our power will go out. We'll have to wait about 15-30 minutes and then go reset the main 100A breaker to the house. It's only happened a couple times a year and only during the summer. This last time, after resetting the breaker, the power went out immediately a couple of times before staying on.

Had the power company come out and he said the main breaker is about to fail and we need to replace it. He was showing me how to pop the meter off the house to cut power to the house and noticed that we have a 60A rated meter. Said most folks have 100A or 200A meters and if I wanted I could replace it. Otherwise, replacing the 100A main breaker should fix the issue.

So I'm at Home Depot today talking to their electrical person and she said the 60A meter is rated too low for a 100A main breaker. She said that the meter is the problem, not the breaker and that I would need to replace it else risk fire/melted wires, etc.

So who's right?? I moved into the house in 2002 and the panel was new when I moved in. I was told it was replaced to bring it to code. Now the Home Depot lady is telling me that this situation can cause fires. How could that ever pass an inspection?
 
Sponsored Links
  #2  
Old 07-15-13, 04:50 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NJ - USA
Posts: 43,512
Welcome to the forums.

I don't know why they asked you if you wanted to replace the meter. The power company should have just put in the 100 amp meter as that's what should be there.

I don't see the meter issue as a fire causing problem.

Do you have a lot of flickering/dimming light issues ?
Are you running a lot of AC units ?
 
  #3  
Old 07-15-13, 05:00 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 3
Yeah, I was taken aback by the poco guy. I had no idea the meter was even the homeowner's responsibility...much less that they didn't care if I cut the seal and pulled the meter out. Guy even gave me a new seal. "Suurree...you can take care of it. Or call us and we'll do it. Here's a seal. Have a nice day." At any rate, he made it sound like upgrading the meter was my responsibility, not theirs.

We have the occasional flickering lights...most of the it's due to something turning on (a/c or oven or something). Nothing I'd consider alarming. Normal single family house. No multiple a/c units. The only thing that sticks out about this particular event is that it happens only on hot days and when we're drawing a lot of power.

I'm not interested in replacing the meter or the main myself, quite frankly. I'll likely call an electrician, I'm just trying to figure out what the cause might be so I'm a little more informed when I call them.
 
  #4  
Old 07-15-13, 05:21 PM
PJmax's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Oct 2012
Location: NJ - USA
Posts: 43,512
The breakers thermally trip so high ambient heat will cause it to trip sooner.

What I'm trying to figure out is if you are coming close to the 100 amp point. Only one air conditioner, water heater, dryer, oven, microwave. Those are not uncommon loads.

Are there more heavy loads ? You may have to do a load calculation to see if you've outgrown a 100amp service.
 
  #5  
Old 07-15-13, 05:48 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,365
Some pics might help give a better idea of your situation.

The poco guy is an idiot for telling an untrained person to pull a meter, especially without protective gear.
 
  #6  
Old 07-15-13, 06:14 PM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,221
I moved into the house in 2002 and the panel was new when I moved in
Was the complete service entrance replaced or just the panel? If just the panel and you have a 60 amp meter, the rest of the service entrance probably needs to be replaced along with the meter. It has been many years since 60 amp meters were used and even then it was just in 60 amp services. If you have old 60 amp service entrance wiring with a 100 amp main breaker, you have a fire hazard.
 
  #7  
Old 07-15-13, 06:26 PM
Tolyn Ironhand's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Nov 2007
Location: Twin Cities, MN
Posts: 11,991
In my area everything from the attachment point to the rest of the house is the homeowners responsibility. The meter itself is supplied by the POCO, but everything else is yours.

It sounds to me like you have a bootlegged panel. The panel was changed out, but not the meter socket. This should be changed ASAP.

Whether it is it is heat from too much current, or from a poor connection, heat is what trips a breaker. You should pull out your main breaker and make sure the wires and attachment parts to the buss are in good shape. If you see pitting, you might need to move the main breaker.

To change the main breaker you would be required to pull the meter as mentioned. This will kill the power to the panel. While it can be dangerous, if you don't pull it under load (IE shut off the main breaker first) you will not get an arc. Safety gear is recommended though.
 
  #8  
Old 07-15-13, 06:38 PM
Member
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jul 2013
Location: USA
Posts: 3
Awesome. That's a pleasant thought. Could they update the panel and not the meter wiring and still pass inspection? Wouldn't that put the original owner or the inspection company at risk for lawsuit? I'd love to think that the service entrance was wired to support a 100 amp breaker...but I honestly don't know. I'm inclined to believe that they did not update the service entrance. The panel was only rewired by the original owner as a condition of sale...so it was a rush job. I'll take a picture of the meter tomorrow when it's light out. Hopefully you can tell from that. All it is is a pipe that runs from the roof post down the wall to a round meter. There's no grey box or anything. From there it's punched through the wall and into the panel.
 
  #9  
Old 07-15-13, 06:42 PM
ray2047's Avatar
Group Moderator
Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: USA
Posts: 32,676
Awesome. That's a pleasant thought. Could they update the panel and not the meter wiring and still pass inspection?
Key word is bootleg. Under the radar; no permit.

Pulling a meter without proper protective gear can be very dangerous. Turn off the main breaker. At least stand to one side and wear a heavy jacket, leather gloves and a full face shield. No one on this forum will recommend you doing this though because of the danger. Also no one will recommend you replace the main breaker hot. See this video for why: Meter Socket Electrical Hazard 240 volts - YouTube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fCZOd2MPoMY
 

Last edited by ray2047; 07-15-13 at 07:12 PM.
  #10  
Old 07-15-13, 07:08 PM
pcboss's Avatar
Forum Topic Moderator
Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: Maryland
Posts: 14,365
A round meter almost guarantees a panel change without an upgrade was done.
 
  #11  
Old 07-16-13, 07:23 AM
CasualJoe's Avatar
Member
Join Date: Jan 2010
Location: USA
Posts: 9,221
So I'm at Home Depot today talking to their electrical person and she said the 60A meter is rated too low for a 100A main breaker. She said that the meter is the problem, not the breaker and that I would need to replace it else risk fire/melted wires, etc.
This is what bothers me; an obviously unqualified person giving advice like that. I've never seen but one bad meter and it was blown out of a 480 volt socket during a severe lightning storm and ended up a 2-piece melted mass. It wasn't bad before the storm!

I am sure pictures of the meter and service entrance will tell the story and confirm that you need a new service entrance.
 
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
'