Can a breaker open without showing the orange tab?

I had to reset abreaker box breaker for my heatpump as the outside unit stopped and the thermostat heat indicator just kept flashing. Can a breaker wear out and not trip but still kill the power? I guess my question is can a breaker show it's on but be tripped slightly?
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Ren Hoek wrote:

excess of the breaker rating causing a thermal snap to release and allowing a spring-loaded switch to open. Perhaps the spring in your particular breaker is a little weak, so it has popped just slightly open, just enough to break the connection. The breaker may be fine otherwise. That is, it may be reacting to an excess of current flowing thru the circuit, as it should. I'd mark it with a piece of masking tape so you can locate it easily. The reason for circuit overload may indicate a problem elsewhere, so you should not assume that the breaker alone is at fault, although that is possible, of course. You may just be experiencing some extreme weather conditions !!! causing the pump to work a little harder than usual? Good luck with it.
JohnK
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wrote:

Thanks. I made the mistake of going to the hvac newsgroup and having to deal with the losers there.
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Ren Hoek wrote:

Yes. I've experienced more than one breaker that was tripped but showed no signs of it. This is especially interesting when working in an unfamiliar building which has no labels (or inaccurate labels) in multiple breaker boxes leading to endless hunting for the culprit. Flipping the breaker off then on will reset it but in the long term it needs to be replaced. Or I guess you could just live with it now that you know which breaker is the problem.
--
John McGaw
[Knoxville, TN, USA]
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change it.
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Who knows. I've seen where the mearsure of a motor's amps is directly proportional to power which is directly proportional to the amount of work it is doing. So a clogged fan is moving less air(working less), so the amps acutally decreases.
Now your compressor might have to work harder,so that is a different story.
later,
tom @ www.CarFleaMarket.com
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They are high on themselves, or maybe too much R12 over the years!

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You should be aware that some breakers [I do not remember the brand(s)], do not move the handle to the OFF position when tripped. In fact, they move the handle slightly further to the ON position. To reset, you have to push them hard to the OFF position, then back ON. Best Regards. Don Young

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I just read your thread in alt.hvac. Funny stuff, sad, but funny. They really should rename that group alt.hvac.pros.only. Then maybe us homeowners wouldn't stumble in there so often.
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The old "Federal" brand breakers are especially noteworthy about not showing tripped mode.

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imho:
I breaker can fail, yes.
How they fail is usualy in different ways, but usally, from experience, they try to fail in the safest mode they can.
Fail by tripping at lower set points.
Fail mecanically internally, but pop open permantly.
As for the red flag, that is something of convience, to help you identy which breaker tripped. I've heard that will only whos under some conditions, ie a short verses an over current.
Also, many breakers trip interally and have little/no movement of the handle, this provides for the breaker to still open if someone is trying to force it closed via the handle. trip-free.
So many what-ifs, sorry, not there to see what is acutally happening. Truth is if you have concerns about any electrical you need to have someone qualified to take a look at it. The 5 dollar breaker might be opeing to protect a fault in you expensive heatpump, and save you some cash.
So good luck with your investigation.
tom @ www.BookmarkAdmin.com
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