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  #1  
Old 08-09-2009, 03:24 PM
Aceospades Aceospades is offline
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can Circuit breaker go bad?

can Circuit breaker go bad? i have a 100 watt circuit breaker for the main breaker to my house. for the last seven years since i have moved in, it has never tripped. we finally turned on the AC the beginning of August and over the last few days it has tripped. when i go down i can smell something burning and the breaker is very hot to the touch. i set up a small fan to keep it cool and it's working good, no trips since the fan. why this year all of a sudden? how much can i expect to pay an electriction to come out and replace it?
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  #2  
Old 08-09-2009, 03:29 PM
Harmonious Discord Harmonious Discord is offline
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Yes they go bad. I have no idea what an electrician will charge you to come out. You could have a fire at anytime as the smell warned you already.
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  #3  
Old 08-09-2009, 03:35 PM
Snnipe 70E Snnipe 70E is offline
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First I doubt that you have a 100 watt breaker. It is probablyy a 100 amp breaker. If it is getting hot that is more normally an indication of a high amp draw, or a loose connection. If the breaker is next ot your main meter the power company may be willing to check to besure that everything in the meter box is OK. If you do have a high amp draw then something in your house may need some work. If you have a loose connection then that will need to be address before you have a house fire.

Sorry but you do need to call a pro out to check or you may have bigger problems.
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  #4  
Old 08-09-2009, 04:22 PM
HongKongFooey HongKongFooey is offline
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Originally Posted by Snnipe 70E View Post
Sorry but you do need to call a pro out to check or you may have bigger problems.
If you need a third opinion, do this NOW. Even if it costs $50 for a new breaker and another $50 to have it installed you're still way ahead of the cost of a fire. A burning smell anywhere near your panel is not something to take lightly.
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  #5  
Old 08-09-2009, 04:27 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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Yes, breakers can go bad. On its own, a 100-amp breaker costs around $35-60 or more at the local home-improvement store, depending on what brand of panel you have. No idea what en electrician would charge for the trip and labor.

However, as Snnipe said, you really need to find out why the breaker is tripping. One likely scenario is the contacts between the breaker and the panel's internal bus are bad and heating up, causing the breaker to trip. This really does need professional attention, and soon.

By any chance do your circuit breaker handles have orange tips or are labeled Federal Pacific?
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  #6  
Old 08-09-2009, 04:29 PM
ZipperJJ ZipperJJ is offline
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Replacing the breaker is super cheap and super easy. I had one that simply went bad in that the spring that kept it open broke, and it would not stay on. I just had a friend with electrical knowledge confirm the problem and replace it for the cost of the breaker.

HOWEVER...there was absolutely no burning and no heat when my breaker broke. I fourth the opinion to have an electrician look at it. I guarantee my friend who helped with mine would have had me call a pro if my breaker was in the same state as yours is.
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  #7  
Old 08-09-2009, 04:58 PM
HongKongFooey HongKongFooey is offline
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Originally Posted by ZipperJJ View Post
Replacing the breaker is super cheap and super easy.
Of course you're right but I'd like to mention for the OP's sake that the main breaker is a different kettle of fish. Don't attempt to replace the main breaker yourself.
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  #8  
Old 08-09-2009, 09:50 PM
boytyperanma boytyperanma is offline
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For a main breaker call an electrician. You can't simply shut off the breaker and swap it out as the wires feeding it are live. In order to cut power to it you'd have to pull the meter out. Depending on the power company breaking the seal to pull the meter can range from oh my god you fucking criminal to we don't give a flying fuck. Its best to be able to point to someone licensed as the person who did so.
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  #9  
Old 08-09-2009, 10:05 PM
The Second Stone The Second Stone is offline
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Whatever you do, don't pay for a professional electrician. That will cost you money. If your house burns down, the insurance will pay for it. That is what insurance is for. If you pay your premium.
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  #10  
Old 08-09-2009, 10:25 PM
FoieGrasIsEvil FoieGrasIsEvil is offline
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A breaker with a 100 amp draw is pretty big, if it's tripping out and leaving a burning smell, call an electrician immediately. Don't settle for the fan option, as I don't think that's really helping. There's a root cause there somewhere.
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  #11  
Old 08-09-2009, 10:34 PM
gotpasswords gotpasswords is offline
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Originally Posted by The Second Stone
Whatever you do, don't pay for a professional electrician. That will cost you money. If your house burns down, the insurance will pay for it. That is what insurance is for. If you pay your premium.
Are you nucking futz?

Hiring an electrician will be cheaper than the deductible on your homeowner's insurance.
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  #12  
Old 08-09-2009, 10:45 PM
billfish678 billfish678 is offline
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YES THEY CAN.

It was a christmas day. I was barefoot in the kitchen. I turned the electric stove knob. Something major shorted out in there. A plasma fireball erupted from the the control panel. It nearly started a fire. Fortunately, a wire somewhere in the STOVE burned through before I got electrocuted or the house caught fire. The circuit breaker did NOT trip.

I usually don't drink at 8am on a Christmas day. That day was an exception.
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  #13  
Old 08-10-2009, 09:28 AM
rbroome rbroome is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aceospades View Post
can Circuit breaker go bad? i have a 100 watt circuit breaker for the main breaker to my house. for the last seven years since i have moved in, it has never tripped. we finally turned on the AC the beginning of August and over the last few days it has tripped. when i go down i can smell something burning and the breaker is very hot to the touch. i set up a small fan to keep it cool and it's working good, no trips since the fan. why this year all of a sudden? how much can i expect to pay an electriction to come out and replace it?
I nth the recommendation to call an electrician. It won't be too expensive since it will be a simple fix (hopefully). The alternative is to run the risk of having a house fire. The fact that you need a fan on your breaker is a very bad thing. Get it checked out.
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  #14  
Old 08-10-2009, 10:11 AM
engineer_comp_geek engineer_comp_geek is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by billfish678 View Post
The circuit breaker did NOT trip.
This doesn't necessarily mean the circuit breaker was bad. Circuit breakers only trip when there's more current flowing through the line than it was designed to handle. There are plenty of Really Bad Things that can happen that won't trip a breaker.

Two of the most common are that you can get a short to ground somewhere. You get a dangerous amount of current flowing somewhere, but it's not enough to trip the breaker. It's more than enough to kill someone or burn your house down, though. The Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter (GFCI) was invented specifically to detect this type of fault.

Even a GFCI might not protect you from a bad connection that catches fire, like what happened in your stove. A GFCI would only trip if the wire shorted to the metal case of the stove. They also now have Arc Fault Circuit Interrupters (AFCI), which are designed to catch burning stuff like your stove, or more likely, a burning overloaded extension cord somewhere in your house.

I'll also throw in the nth+1 recommendation for a professional electrician for the OP. You're in serious house burning territory with the type of problem you're having. This is one of those pull the meter (cuts the power to your entire house) and call the electrician ASAP type of problems.
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  #15  
Old 08-10-2009, 10:27 AM
kayaker kayaker is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gotpasswords View Post

By any chance do your circuit breaker handles have orange tips or are labeled Federal Pacific?
hehe. I get it. I had a problem with a breaker. It was a Federal Pacific. The electrician recommended replacing the whole freaking box. I told him I would think about it. After reading about FP breakers online, I called him and asked him to do it at his earliest convenience.
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  #16  
Old 08-10-2009, 10:42 AM
HongKongFooey HongKongFooey is offline
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For anyone else with Federal Pacific or Federal Pioneer (as they're called here) breakers, this site has a good overview of why you should replace them.
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  #17  
Old 08-10-2009, 02:44 PM
CC CC is offline
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Originally Posted by The Second Stone View Post
Whatever you do, don't pay for a professional electrician. That will cost you money. If your house burns down, the insurance will pay for it. That is what insurance is for. If you pay your premium.
Good advice! Also, when you get a chance, try to chew through the various electric wires that lead to the circuit breaker box.

Also, sleep on the highway.
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  #18  
Old 08-10-2009, 07:39 PM
Snnipe 70E Snnipe 70E is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HongKongFooey View Post
For anyone else with Federal Pacific or Federal Pioneer (as they're called here) breakers, this site has a good overview of why you should replace them.

Could be worse, could be a Zinsco
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