Blew a fuse/breaker - need help

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  #1  
Old 06-09-15, 08:36 AM
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Blew a fuse/breaker - need help

I was changing a light fixture and obviously did something wrong because when I flipped the breaker back on, heard a small pop and now everything that was on that breaker no longer works. I tried waiting for it to cool down over night and flipped it back on, and it still won't work. I opened up the panel looking for a main shutoff switch or something and can't find it. Searched the entire house and only found a main shutoff with 2 fuses but believe this is specific to my A/C unit as pulling it out didn't turn off any electricity and it's near where the A/C unit is, see pictures below. What should I do? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


Thanks,

Mark

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Old 06-09-15, 09:06 AM
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You may have a main disconnect outside near the meter or in a box next to the meter. Otherwise this looks like a main lug panel, which does not include a main disconnect. Due to the danger associated with this type of panel -- do not work on it until you can find a main disconnect or have the power company disconnect the service.

The problem you're experiencing now may be a panel failure, or it could be a burned off wire somewhere in the circuit you were working on. That could be tedious to find.

Now for the bad news. The panel is a Zinsco type, which are known to carry a significantly higher risk of electrical fire than other panels of similar age due to failure of breakers and connection to the panel bus bars. I strongly recommend contacting an electrician about getting your electrical service replaced. Some reading material about your panel: Zinsco Sylvania Kearney Electrical Panel and Circuit Breaker Hazards, Failures, Inspection, Detection, Repair, Replacement - Sylvania Zinsco circuit breakers and panel hazards
 
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Old 06-09-15, 10:20 AM
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Thanks for that Ben, really helpful! Handful of follow-up questions:

1. Once I find the main disconnect, what would you recommend I try first to fix the problem I'm currently having? (I'd like to at least attempt to try to fix it on my own before I hire a professional - more for sense of accomplishment than anything else...)

2. If I were to contract an electrician about getting the electrical service replaced, what do you think this should roughly cost? And any recommendations on what to replace to?
 
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Old 06-09-15, 11:38 AM
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Yeah, first step would be to identify if the problem is the breaker or the circuit wiring. The best way to do that would be to move that circuit's hot wire over to one of the known-good breakers and see if you get power on the circuit. If you do, then it points to a bad breaker or a bad connection between the breaker and and panel bar. If you have a multimeter or circuit tester, you can also test for voltage between the breaker terminal and ground.

If you still do not have power on the circuit, then the problem is likely a broken connection somewhere in the circuit. These can be tedious to find, because it can be at any junction box in the circuit, in a splice, receptacle or switch. Generally a divide and conquer approach will find the boxes where power is still on and where it is off, giving you a good idea where the break is. Once found, the fix would be to remake the connection or replace the loose/burned device.

It's hard to estimate cost over the Internet due to a lot of factors, but in my area an uncomplicated above ground service job runs about $1,500. Local labor rate and permit fees can vary quite a bit as can additional costs if unusual lengths of wire, construction work, excavation, stucco/brick, drywall, roofing, etc would also need to be included due to the layout or design of your house. Generally extra costs come in when the old panel or meter location is no longer a legal location and it needs to move, e.g. a bathroom or storage closet.

Your contractor will probably have a preferred brand of equipment, but they are generally all good these days. More premium models will have copper buses instead of aluminum and are generally made of sturdier metal. My preference is Siemens copper bus panels because of good quality and reasonable price. Square D Q0 and Eaton CH are excellent, but more expensive. Eaton BR and Homeline are both fine on the more affordable side. I don't prefer GE panels due to some design problems in my opinion, but I am not aware of any safety issues associated with them.
 
  #5  
Old 06-10-15, 08:35 AM
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found a main shutoff with 2 fuses but believe this is specific to my A/C unit as pulling it out didn't turn off any electricity and it's near where the A/C unit is,
It looks much larger than what would be required for an A-C unit, what size are the fuses?
 
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Old 06-10-15, 09:19 AM
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Main shut off if one exists should be close to the meter. Start looking at the meter.
 
  #7  
Old 06-13-15, 09:27 PM
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Found the main shutoff, tested the breaker and unfortunately, the breaker is good, so must be wiring at some point...

I'm thinking I should probably just do a panel upgrade and get it over with... Do you think they'll fix the wiring along with that upgrade? Or charge me extra?
 
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Old 06-13-15, 09:43 PM
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Depends where the problem is. If it is not at the panel it will be an Easter egg hunt to find it. That takes time.
 
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