can a circuit breaker that tripped, worked properly, be damaged in the process?

Hello, I was wiring something and I messed up, as soon as I turned the heater circuit breaker (to the thing I was wiring) on, there was a loud bang, smoke and the breaker jumped back to OFF position, that means, it worked properly, although the part I was wiring, got damaged. I then disconnected the damaged part. However, now the circuit breaker appears to "short", that is, even in the OFF position, some other wires that it controls, are hot!
Can a tripped circuit breaker, get shorted that way in the process, so that it cannot be turned OFF, and so I should replace the circuit breaker? Or is something else wrong?
Thank you for any insight, Mark
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Mark_Galeck wrote:

Shouldn't, but as the saying goes "stuff happens".
I'm guessing this maybe was a 240V breaker? The some in "some other wires" implies one side is shorted, the other not, perhaps, or is that not a precise description of symptoms.
Replacing certainly sounds in order, check for any signs of collateral damage from the short at the mounting and neutral bars, etc.
I guess I'll add the obligatory caution -- this wouldn't happen to be an old FPE (Federal Pacific) breaker/box by any chance?
--
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breakers are designed to do their job, but can go bad. a westinghouse plant i used to spend a lot of time in found that knock off westinghouse breakers would either explode or short. i saw a explode demo once....
these were distribution breakers, just big models of regular home breakers. i watched them be assembled, it was a interesting place.
I did a repair job saturday and got a nasty shock after being assured the power was off:(
I should of done my usual short everything to ground to make certain circuit was dead...
but to answer your question breakers are designed to trip.
tripping shouldnt damage them
but yes it can happen replace the breaker
are you certain the stuff thats still on is on the breaker in question?
try a test lamp on the breakers out terminal
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One way to test the breaker before going out and buying a new one would be swap wires with another circuit temporally.
I would test a known good circuit to see if the breaker works instead of testing the bad circuit on a good breaker.
You could have melted some wire insulation when you shorted them together. (the bang, smoke part)
I would completely unwire what you did and see if the problem clears.
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Mark_Galeck wrote:

Mark The bad news here is that you may need some special intervention to protect your home from catastrophic failure of your service equipment during some future electrical fault.
If you look at the breaker's molded plastic case you will see that it is marked with a withstand rating. Common ratings are 5,000; 10,000; 22,000; and 45,000 symmetrical amperes. That is the amount of current the breaker can interrupt without the case rupturing and throwing burning plastic and molten metal around. At currents well below the withstand the breaker can fail internally so as to no longer perform it's function but it would fail in the off condition. It it failed in such a way that it is still passing current then the withstand rating of the breaker was exceeded.
Why that is important is that it shows there is enough current available to the panel's buss bars to exceed the withstand rating of the installed breakers. You need to have a calculation done by your utilities engineering department, a fairly sharp master electrician, or an electrical engineer. If the fault current available to your panels terminals is indeed higher than the rating of the installed beakers remedial work needs to be done to protect your home and family from the real possibility of explosive failure of the existing breakers. The power utility will sometimes be willing to recommend cost effective remediation for your situation. If they are not willing to provide that service then your best recourse is to call in a master electrician to examine your problem.
Some examples of the kinds of things that can be done is to replace all of the breakers with breakers recognized for use in that panel that have a higher withstand rating. Calculation may reveal that only the main breaker needs to be upgraded. In some installations a fused disconnect is installed ahead of the panel to limit the fault current to the existing breakers withstand rating. I know that this is not good news for you but if you ignore this failure and just replace the failed breaker then the next fault may turn one of your breakers into a hand grenade that will not only injure the person who closes it on the fault but also destroys adjacent breakers and spews burning plastic. Such failures are rare in homes but they have occurred and the consequences of such failures are quite dire. -- Tom Horne
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On Mon, 31 Dec 2007 07:38:57 -0800 (PST), Mark_Galeck

Remove the wires from that breaker, put a tester on it and if there is still voltage, replace the breaker. You could be getting voltage from some other crossed circuit. Breakers DO go bad and anything can cause it.
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Please google "Federal Pacific Electric".
The short answer is yes. Get it? Short?
--

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"Mark_Galeck" <mark_galeck_spam snipped-for-privacy@yahoo.com> wrote in message
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Mark_Galeck wrote:

If a tripped circuit breaker is still passing current, it's kinda useless, isn't it?
Things like this should be designed to fail safe.
I'd contact the manufacturer.
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On Dec 31 2007, 9:38am, Mark_Galeck

Do yourself a huge favor and call an electrician.
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