Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Buzzing in the electrical panel

Bad main circuit breaker




This is a 200 amp main circuit breaker that went bad. From the front the breaker only looks old. This breaker was in an electrical panel that was about 30 years old. That is the designed age for most of this type of equipment. Electrical services should be replaced when they become this old to avoid service failures. 




This is a picture of the back side of the same breaker. You can see that the problems started on the far left side. This is where the buzzing and sizzling was occurring.  The cause of this is normally corrosion or a loose connection. This produced heat that can lead to a fire if not corrected.




When we were called out to this problem we could see a small amount of smoke coming from the breaker. There was a slight burning smell coming from the panel.  The owner of this panel did a great job finding this problem before there was an electrical fire. This is a picture of the back side of the same breaker. You can see that the problems started on the far left side. This is where the buzzing and sizzling was occurring.  The cause of this is normally corrosion or a loose connection. This produced heat that can lead to a fire if not corrected.




Here is the panel the breaker was taken out of. The circuit breakers are almost all twin style breakers. These are breaker double the amount of circuit that normally fit into an electrical panel. Twins are OK to use but we don't think they are a great solution for most people.  A better solution is to install a bigger electrical service that can handle full size breakers. Here the twins probably are to blame for extra heat buildup. The heat buildup is all most definitively to blame for the failure of this main breaker. 




The solution here was to add two 200 amp panel with full size breaker and extra space for future circuits. This allows for more air space. Now, the panel will not build up as much heat and everything will run cooler. 


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