I have a breaker in the main panel that I can hear arcing. I'm assuming
that I need to replace this breaker, but the only problem is that I don't
know which breaker is bad. When I open the panel, will there be obvious
visual evidence of the problem? It's intermittent enough that it's going to
be hard to figure it out only by sound. The only diagnostic tool I'll have
at my disposal is a meter.
Any suggestions welcome!
Turn off the breakers one by one, the arcing should stop when you open the
bad breaker (it might not but there is a very good chance this method will
work). Does anything flicker or dim when the arcing happens? that would
point the way. Trying to observe the arcing in the dark is just a shot in
the dark but might work anyway.
Arcing often occurs between the breaker contact and the bus bar, if this is
the case, the bus bar may have been eroded (visually evident), choose a
different location to install the new breaker if you can. Visual inspection
under each breaker then reassemble with a little dielectic grease may show
the location if this is the mode. Ironically, disassembly and reassembly
might fix the problem if it is due to oxidation at the buss bar/breaker
If the arcing was inside the breaker, there should be no additional concern.
As time goes on, it will become more constant! It's probably
associated with one device. Maybe you can notice which or figure it
A big soda straw, or piece of tubing next to your ear and the other
end moved along the breakers should narrow it down.
Also, I think you could put your fingers on the plastic parts of each
breaker, one by one, and will feel the arcing.
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