Breaker box

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Old 03-25-14, 05:55 PM
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Breaker box

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I have a ? and would also like advice.

Occasionally I hear a buzzing sound coming from the breaker box just every now and then. What could this be?

Let explain a little about what I have. The home was built in 1985. It is all electric with a 200 amp service

Left side of the box is setup like this

60 amp and 30 amp breaker for the furnace
25 amp breaker for hot water tank
15 amp breaker that is use for overhead lights in bedroom # 2 hall and bathroom all wall sockets in bedroom #2 and right side of livingroom and 1 wall socket in bathroom also a exhaust fan in the bath room
15 amp breaker is for bedroom #1 and left side of living room
15 amp breaker is for kitchen overhead light and outside light and doorbell
last spot is empty

Right side of box

40 amp breaker for the range
30 amp for dryer
20 amp for entire kitchen wall sockets and exhaust fan for the range
20 amp for 1 wall socket in the bathroom which runs the washer
not sure this is blue and says test on it
20 and a 30 amp for a/c

Would it have any benefit to put in a new box?
What should I get or look for a new box?
Would this be a hard job for a experience electrician?


Thanks
 
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Old 03-25-14, 06:01 PM
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What brand is your old panel? Why are you considering change the panel?

Complexity of the job depends on the scope of the work. I will say the multiple cables through one knockout should be changed if and when the panel gets changed. It was not correct, but is not an imminent hazard.
 
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Old 03-25-14, 06:24 PM
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The old one is a Crouse-Hinds. Really not looking to replace if I don't have too. Trying to determine if I benefit from a newer box with more breakers
 
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Old 03-25-14, 06:29 PM
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Occasionally I hear a buzzing sound coming from the breaker box just every now and then. What could this be?
Do you hear the buzzing sound when a large appliances turn on? The design of circuit breakers include an electromagnet that can buzz when near capacity. In itself it doesn't indicate any issue.

Overall the panel looks cleanly wired and from a distance, looks safe. Unless there are particular issues or you're planning on adding new loads, you shouldn't need to replace or upgrade it.
 
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Old 03-25-14, 06:41 PM
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The blue breaker looks to be a Bryant breaker and is 15A. Blue is 15A and red is 20A.

That's actually a pretty small panel (20 spaces) for a 200A panel.

Those are thermal/magnetic breakers and as such you may hear them buzz under a high current draw. I'd imagine your electric heat breakers may be the ones you're hearing.

Those were reliable panels and unless you need the immediate space for more breakers it shouldn't need to be replaced. You have three full size spaces left.

One thing that can be done on older panels is that the main breaker is shut off and each breaker is removed one at a time and the back of the breaker where the clip is and the buss bar in the panel is inspected for discoloration. After the breaker is reinstalled, the screws holding the wires are checked for tightness.

Note: the wires on the main breaker are always live even when the main breaker is turned off and should not be checked for tightness.
 
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Old 03-25-14, 07:09 PM
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That panel is probably Ok for now, but I'd keep an eye on the 200 amp main breaker, I've seen a lot of the old Crouse-Hinds main breakers fail. Watch for the main breaker to overheat. If you don't catch the overheating quickly, the aluminum stabs will be damaged and you'll have an emergency panel replacement on your hands. Frankly, considering the 15 KW electric furnace load, I am a little surprised the panel is still in as good of shape as it appears.
 
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Old 03-26-14, 02:28 AM
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That's actually a pretty small panel (20 spaces) for a 200A panel.
It's probably a 20/40 panel and all spaces are listed for tandem CBs. That's what my Crouse-Hinds panel is although it makes it rather difficult when you need a large number of two-pole (240 volt) CBs.
[QUOTE]

Frankly, considering the 15 KW electric furnace load, I am a little surprised the panel is still in as good of shape as it appears.
Why? 15 kW is less than 1/3 of the total panel rating. Even looking at a greater-than-normal total demand load it appears that the load should peak out at about 160 amperes and I seriously doubt that happens very often, and probably never for the more than three hours of a continuous load.
 
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Old 03-26-14, 06:00 AM
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The furnace 60A? Is this a heat pump. One of my customer had this problem this winter because their heat pump had an unusually high demand because of the harsh winter. I advised that she should contact the company that put in her heat pump. They did find issues with the heat pump and the buzzing stopped.

Hot water heater - Should be on a 30A breaker by code (IF !!) it is connected to a 10 gauge wire.

Hard to see exactly where the ground wires start and stop but I see that the ground and neutral bars are separate. It appears that the ground bar is grounded to the box. It also seems as though (can't see exactly) that the neutral bar is grounded to the box. If this is a main breaker box the neutral and ground bars should be bonded together. This is something that will not cause immediate problems but if you do end up changing the box over this should be corrected by your electrician as normal installation of a new breaker box. Although I have seen ones that have not been done correctly.

Good luck finding breakers for this box. I had a bear of a time looking for breakers for my customers box main breaker.
 
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Old 03-26-14, 08:39 AM
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Why? 15 kW is less than 1/3 of the total panel rating. Even looking at a greater-than-normal total demand load it appears that the load should peak out at about 160 amperes and I seriously doubt that happens very often, and probably never for the more than three hours of a continuous load.
The Crouse-Hinds aluminum bus panel is just a later version of the old Arrow-Hart Murray economy panel. In past years I have seen a lot of 10, 15, 20 and 25 KW electric furnace installations on all different brands of panels. The economy aluminum bus panels back then never held up under the higher loads of the electric heat more than 10 to 15 years. The tension of the spring clip attaching the breakers to the aluminum bus always seemed to be the problem.

Good luck finding breakers for this box. I had a bear of a time looking for breakers for my customers box main breaker.
From memory, I believe the older Crouse-Hinds panels allowed the use of GE THQL and Bryant (Cutler-Hammer) BR breakers.
 
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Old 03-26-14, 10:37 AM
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Hard to be sure from the photo. Is there a main breaker in this panel?

The neutral bar appears to be isolated from the box but connected to ground with a bare conductor. Is that the case?
 
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Old 03-26-14, 10:57 AM
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The main is at the top and is wider than the branch circuit breakers. The incoming lugs are on the right side.
 
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Old 03-26-14, 11:34 AM
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OK, thanks. I thought that might be a main breaker but just wasn't sure. This appears to be the location for the GEC bond to be made then.
 
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Old 03-26-14, 01:46 PM
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Just my 2 cents....GFCI breakers sometimes start buzzing after a while...might check that out. And those main breakers like you have are long gone. Murray has one that will fit (Crouse-Hinds became Murray later on) but it does not have the offset lugs and that may be a problem depending on how much wire you have to deal with as far as trying to mount a new one. Usually can be made to work though. But given the age of this panel, if the main does poo out on you a new panel upgrade would be good, if money is not an issue.
 
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Old 03-27-14, 07:05 PM
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Breaker box

Thanks for all the info. I have inserted a new pic little closer up.


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