Federal Pacific circuit breaker ohm check

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Old 12-15-14, 10:46 AM
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Federal Pacific circuit breaker ohm check

I have two Federal Pacific 60-amp double pole breakers, and both of them are giving really erratic ohm readings. Sometimes it will be 2 ohms, sometimes 60, sometimes several thousand, sometimes a million. Yet when I connect a 12-volt battery and light to it, the light turns on brightly every time. This doesn't make any sense to me

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Old 12-15-14, 11:09 AM
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I am guessing the quality of the probe contacts with the stabs is varying.
 
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Old 12-15-14, 12:27 PM
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Old 12-15-14, 01:35 PM
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When I put both probes on the stabs, or both on the screw terminal, I consistently get less than 1 ohm.

I am aware of the failure to trip issue, but buying a whole new breaker box is not really feasible at this time... and the house actually has two breaker boxes.
 
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Old 12-15-14, 04:02 PM
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What was your issue that prompted you to test continuity on the breaker?
 
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Old 12-15-14, 07:34 PM
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The breaker that's currently installed is dead. I have these two other breakers that I could swap in. There is no main breaker, so I will have to get the power company to shut off power before I can change the breaker. So I would like to know that the spare is good before I have them come.
 
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Old 12-15-14, 07:39 PM
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When I put both probes on the stabs, or both on the screw terminal, I consistently get less than 1 ohm.
The resistance through the breaker will be very low. FPE breakers never had an issue allowing current to pass through, but SOME FPE breakers had a problem tripping. That being said, I'd rather have an FPE panel as a Zinsco panel. Yes, it needs to be replaced, but it's not an emergency.

I will have to get the power company to shut off power before I can change the breaker. So I would like to know that the spare is good before I have them come.
I suspect there will be a charge from the power company for this. It might be cheaper to call an electrician.
 
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Old 12-15-14, 09:02 PM
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Are you attempting to change the main breaker?
 
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Old 12-16-14, 09:19 AM
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I'm attempting to change the HVAC breaker. There is no main breaker.

The power company says there is no charge to come shut off power, if I give them 2 days notice. Maybe I will just have to do that, and then check voltage drop across the breaker after it's installed.
 
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Old 12-16-14, 09:22 AM
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Unless there are only six breakers or less there should be a main cut off somewhere else. Or it is a very old installation which given the FPE is probably the case.
 
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Old 12-16-14, 09:34 AM
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Unless there are only six breakers or less there should be a main cut off somewhere else. Or it is a very old installation which given the FPE is probably the case.
The OP said there was no main breaker and that this is an HVAC breaker so I assumed it was a split bus panel. There are literally millions of them out there still in service, many of them are FPEs. Changing the breaker is not a big deal and should only take a few minutes (less than 5) unless the OP is a novice and I am assuming he must be. I've never heard of anyone having the power turned off in a case like this, but it would be best for a novice to play it safe.

So I would like to know that the spare is good before I have them come.
If in doubt, buy a new breaker.
 
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Old 12-16-14, 10:51 AM
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If you are not comfortable working in a hot panel I would call and ask for a disconnect. When the truck shows up tell them you are changing a breaker and will be done in 10 minutes to see if they can wait. They could pull the meter, let you do your work and reinstall the meter. This is not something that should take an inspection.

Have a flashlight ready to go along with your tools. Turn off breaker, loosen screws holding wires, remove wires from breaker. Install new breaker, insert wires, tighten screws. Turn on breaker.
 
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