Is this panel dangerous? Do I need to replace?

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  #1  
Old 03-17-14, 08:25 PM
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Is this panel dangerous? Do I need to replace?

I am thinking that I might need to replace this panel. House lights dim a bit when washer or dryer go on. I showed these pics to someone with some knowledge and he indicated the blue and red switches are dangerous. He said the connectors were like splitters and I am drawing more power than the panel can supply and those can actual start to melt. Dimming light might be a sign of melting starting. Now he has only seen the pictures too, but I was wondering if anyone had experience with these switches or might be able to confirm what I was told. Any ideas are appreciated.
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  #2  
Old 03-17-14, 08:38 PM
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Welcome to the forums.

Red and blue breakers aren't dangerous as such. I only remember Bryant using those colored breakers and those aren't Bryant. There should be a brand name on or inside the cover.

Breakers don't necessarily cause lights to dim. That could be caused by many things including your main service and how it's set up.
 
  #3  
Old 03-18-14, 05:12 AM
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Red and blue breakers aren't dangerous as such. I only remember Bryant using those colored breakers and those aren't Bryant. There should be a brand name on or inside the cover.
I agree, not enough information in the small picture to identify the panel. The name would be helpful, as PJ suggested, but also some more pictures with both the cover on and some with the cover off.
 
  #4  
Old 03-18-14, 06:45 PM
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Here is the panel.

I will need to open it up for an inside shot later.
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  #5  
Old 03-18-14, 06:48 PM
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Here is some manufacturer info

Details of manufacturer and panel number
oops, pretty small: Murray Division: E-26095

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  #6  
Old 03-18-14, 07:38 PM
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label in panel

Let's see if this is can be read
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  #7  
Old 03-18-14, 08:17 PM
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Considering its age and being an aluminum buss panel, I'd recommend changing it.
 
  #8  
Old 03-19-14, 12:31 AM
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That's a Crouse-Hinds/Murray division panel. It's an older panel but I'm not aware of any inherent problems with them. It's only a 12 circuit panel with lots of tandem breakers.

The top four breaker spaces are rated for full size breakers and the bottom eight spaces are rated for tandems so the panel has been breakered properly.

I don't know the bus material.
 
  #9  
Old 03-19-14, 12:32 AM
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Considering its age and being an aluminum buss panel, I'd recommend changing it.
Why, do the electrons passing through the aluminum buss wear it out or somehow change the electrical characteristics over time? I suspect that there are tens of thousands of circuit breaker panels that are equally old and that have aluminum bus bars that are still in use with no failure. Depending on the electrical loading of the various circuits I seriously doubt that there is anything on this panel that would be better off with a new copper-bus panel.

Now, IF this panel and circuit breakers is one of those with a known history of failure, like the Zinsco, I would have a different opinion, but this is a Murray panel and while the Murray was a less-expensive panel in its day it was still completely functional and had no more failures (that i am aware of) than the copper-bus panels.
 
  #10  
Old 03-19-14, 05:18 AM
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That's a Crouse-Hinds/Murray division panel
I cannot read the label, but considering the age, it would likely be an old Arrow-Hart/Murray panel. Just guessing here, but probably from the '60s.
 
  #11  
Old 03-19-14, 11:46 AM
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final pieces: inside panel

Here is the inside of the panel
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  #12  
Old 03-19-14, 11:49 AM
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Here is a side component

This is a side bar off the fuse panel. might be hard to see.


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  #13  
Old 03-19-14, 11:52 AM
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here is a label on the red/blue breakers

This is the label on the breakers. Reads Murray 2 pole unit, Issue KR-840, CTL-Style MM, CU/AL.

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Last edited by PJmax; 03-19-14 at 05:52 PM. Reason: Fixed picture
  #14  
Old 03-19-14, 11:58 AM
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opinion

So again, the guy I was talking to, who only saw pictures of the red and blue breakers, said that the breakers are pretty dangerous and are against code here. He said that the connectors are basically like splitters and I am drawing more power than the panel can give and the panel will try to supply that demand and can actually melt. He was very concerned and said I should have someone take a look at it.
Not holding anyone to anything, but from the pics I have attached, can anyone comment or agree on what was suggested to me?
 
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Old 03-19-14, 12:49 PM
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Color of breakers don't matter.
He said that the connectors are basically like splitters and I am drawing more power than the panel can give and the panel will try to supply that demand and can actually melt.
No clue what connectors he means are splitters or what he means by that. If he means some breakers have two wires and are not rated for two wires that is a problem that needs to be corrected but it is easy to correct. Note:It is not uncommon for the total of the individual breakers to add up to 150%-200% of the panel rating and that is okay because breakers are not normally run at full load or even half load.
 
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Old 03-19-14, 05:36 PM
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The guy you are talking to is on crack.

Really, from what I see you just have a perfectly fine older Murry panel. Although some of the breakers look like General Switch and maybe one ITE. Your dimming lights could be nothing other then the quick jump in load when you start a motor. Motors can draw up to 300% of full load current.

A branch circuit can not draw more amps than the breaker protecting it is rated for. The entire panel will not provide more amps than the main breaker is rated for. So if you had a load of 10 amps on each branch circuit in the panel, the branch circuit breakers would not trip, but the main would.

Aluminum bus panels are still installed today and are just fins and safe. If your concerned that the panel is showing problems, turn off the main breaker, remove each branch circuit breaker and inspect the bus and see if you see signs of pitting/melting. While your there, make sure all the connections in the panel are tight, EXCEPT the ones to the main breaker. Those connections are always hot!! If your are not comfortable with any of the above, please call an electrician. We want you to keep coming back.
 
  #17  
Old 03-19-14, 06:07 PM
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I fixed your pics so that were easier to see. I took your inside panel one and enlarged it. I only see one issue and that's a single wire all the way at the top in a two pole breaker. Certainly no fire issue.

I don't see any wires doubled up on a breaker. I see spare breakers. I see a two pole 100A breaker which must mean you have a sub panel somewhere.

I circled the two connections at the top of the panel in red. Those two connections on the main breaker are always live even when main breaker is off. I don't see anything that would raise a red flag here.

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  #18  
Old 03-19-14, 06:10 PM
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the guy I was talking to, who only saw pictures of the red and blue breakers, said that the breakers are pretty dangerous and are against code here. He said that the connectors are basically like splitters and I am drawing more power than the panel can give and the panel will try to supply that demand and can actually melt.
It just hit me what he must have meant. You have some tandem breakers in the panel. A tandem breaker is actually two single pole breakers within one molded case and both circuits draw power from the same bus stab. I believe he is thinking of the tandem breaker like it is splitting the power from the one bus stab, which it basically is, but that's pretty typical. Tandem breakers are still widely used today with few problems.

The only thing I see that seems a bit odd is in the picture in your post #4. The main breaker is "ON" when down and "OFF" when up. I don't believe I have ever seen a main breaker like that.
 
  #19  
Old 03-19-14, 06:20 PM
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It may have been designed as a bottom fed panel.
 
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Old 03-19-14, 07:33 PM
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The only thing I see that seems a bit odd is in the picture in your post #4. The main breaker is "ON" when down and "OFF" when up. I don't believe I have ever seen a main breaker like that.
Every 100A Murray panel I've ever seen in person had the main breaker upside-down. It is essentially a back-fed main and even has a retaining piece.
 
  #21  
Old 03-19-14, 07:54 PM
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Originally Posted by daver10000 View Post
So again, the guy I was talking to, who only saw pictures of the red and blue breakers, said that the breakers are pretty dangerous and are against code here. He said that the connectors are basically like splitters and I am drawing more power than the panel can give and the panel will try to supply that demand and can actually melt. He was very concerned and said I should have someone take a look at it.
Not holding anyone to anything, but from the pics I have attached, can anyone comment or agree on what was suggested to me?
I have to agree with Tolyn on this one.. He's on some good drugs.. Either that or I betcha he 'knows a guy' who will take a look at it for you, and of course tell you yeah it's dangerous in an attempt to sell you a $4,000 panel upgrade job.
 
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Old 03-19-14, 07:59 PM
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Originally Posted by CasualJoe View Post
It just hit me what he must have meant. You have some tandem breakers in the panel. A tandem breaker is actually two single pole breakers within one molded case and both circuits draw power from the same bus stab. I believe he is thinking of the tandem breaker like it is splitting the power from the one bus stab, which it basically is, but that's pretty typical. Tandem breakers are still widely used today with few problems.
But as PJ already mentioned, that panel is designed to take tandems in the bottom 8 slots.. It's not like someone installed a bunch of non-CTL replacement tandems in a panel not designed for it. The guy's just a dope.
 
  #23  
Old 03-20-14, 05:08 PM
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It may have been designed as a bottom fed panel.
I don't think so. If this was designed to be a bottom fed panel and inverted for installation the words on the cover near the main breaker would be upside down had it been installed without being inverted. When this panel was manufactured, single phase load centers were generally not allowed to be inverted for installation as I recall, but that's not to say someone couldn't have done so.

Every 100A Murray panel I've ever seen in person had the main breaker upside-down. It is essentially a back-fed main and even has a retaining piece.
When talking about the older Murray panels, the older Murray breaker panels I recall were split bus panels with no main breaker at all. Other than that, the oldest Arrow-Hart Murray panels were fuse panels. Justin, you may be right, I just don't recall seeing one with a main breaker quite like that one.
 
  #24  
Old 03-20-14, 05:14 PM
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But as PJ already mentioned, that panel is designed to take tandems in the bottom 8 slots.. It's not like someone installed a bunch of non-CTL replacement tandems in a panel not designed for it. The guy's just a dope.
Exactly, the tandems are in the proper spaces designed for tandems, no disputing that.
 
  #25  
Old 03-20-14, 08:01 PM
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I seem to remember an HI from Illinois saying that tandems are not accepted in their area even though the panel is listed for them. I am getting that vibe from this thread. Just another quirk.
 
  #26  
Old 03-20-14, 08:30 PM
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That sounds like what might be going on, since I know he talked about code and he apparently knows the rules books pretty clearly. I might have this guy over to get the words straight from him regarding what he thinks he is seeing and then post back here. Everyone has been pretty clear on what they see, even if just from pictures. I WILL NOT be sold anything at this time. Any ideas on what to do with the lights that briefly dim when a/c, dryer, washer first start? Do I really need to care about this?
 
  #27  
Old 03-21-14, 01:49 PM
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Do I really need to care about this?
About the dimming, in my opinion, no.

About the use of tandem breakers, that should be investigated. Based on the age of your panel, even if tandem breakers are not allowed now, your panel may be grandfathered in.
 

Last edited by ray2047; 03-21-14 at 02:17 PM. Reason: Biased>Based
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