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Air Conditioner only works when heater circuit breaker is jiggled

Air Conditioner only works when heater circuit breaker is jiggled

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  #1  
Old 08-16-14, 11:32 AM
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Air Conditioner only works when heater circuit breaker is jiggled

I have a central AC/Heating system and sometimes the AC won't turn on. If I jiggle the heater circuit breaker, which is directly below the AC breaker, that fixes the problem for a while. When I do this I see a little bit of an electrical flash in the crack in between the heater and AC breakers. I also sometimes but not always here a buzz coming from the breakers that lasts about 5 seconds and is followed by the AC turning on. One of the breakers may just need to be replaced. However the heater and AC breakers actually appear newer than the other breakers on the panel. I just moved in so I can't say for sure though.

The heater breaker is 2-pole 30 Amps, the AC is 2-pole 40 Amps

Any explanation for what might be going on would be greatly appreciated!
 
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  #2  
Old 08-16-14, 11:53 AM
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Welcome to the forums.

An explanation ?!

You either need to open the panel to look at the condition of the wiring or call an electrician..... immediately.
It's dangerous running the air conditioner like that.
 
  #3  
Old 08-16-14, 12:32 PM
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When I do this I see a little bit of an electrical flash in the crack in between the heater and AC breakers. I also sometimes but not always here a buzz coming from the breakers that lasts about 5 seconds and is followed by the AC turning on. One of the breakers may just need to be replaced.
It sounds as if the breaker is arcing to the bus and has damaged the busbar. Replacing the breaker might give you a temporary fix, but the busbar is likely damaged and cannot be repaired or replaced. Who is the manufacturer of that panel? My first inclination is that you have either a Zinsco or Sylvania (Zinsco style) panel because this is exactly how they fail. Although it could be any of many different older aluminum bus panels.

You either need to open the panel to look at the condition of the wiring or call an electrician..... immediately.
It's dangerous running the air conditioner like that.
PJ hit the nail square on the head. This is a very hazardous situation and needs to be addressed immediately by someone qualified to make the diagnosis and possibly replace the panel. First thing I'd do is turn off those two breakers.

the heater and AC breakers actually appear newer than the other breakers on the panel.
I am going to venture a guess that this has happened before and that the previous owner just replaced the breakers to keep from having to replace the panel before selling the house. This is not something that a home inspector would have picked up because it would have required removal of all the circuit breakers to find.
 
  #4  
Old 08-16-14, 01:49 PM
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the heater and AC breakers actually appear newer than the other breakers on the panel.
Are they even the correct make and model for the panel? If you post a picture of your panel (cover removed if you are comfortable doing that) one of the pros may be able to tell. http://www.doityourself.com/forum/li...-pictures.html
 
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