Circuit breaker box hisses

Page 1 of 4  
Hi there. Back again with a new problem.
My wife was doing the laundry and I was working near the circuit breaker panel. When she turned the machine on I heard a loud buzz from inside the box. Less than a second long. I had her turn the machine off, took off the panel cover and watched as she turned the machine back on. I saw arcing at the left-handed side of the panel at the point where the heavy black cable from the street enters the box. I had her turn the machine on and off and it happened again. Then I pushed the black wire right where it enters the clamp and it hasn't happened again, despite having all the same lights and appliances on.
I am thinking the clamp has loosened over time. I am going to get a well-insulated screwdriver, put on very heavy rubber gloves and am going to try to tighten the clamp which may have not been tightened in 40 years.
Does the power *really* need to be killed at the meterhead? I've changed out breakers without killing main power (so much frikkin' stuff needs to be reset after a power shutdown that I hate doing it)?
Anything else I should consider? Is the washine machine motor about to fail and is drawing a huge amount of current at startup? How do you even measure the inrush(?) current in such a case. Would pressing on the wire near the clamp cure it temporarily or is some other process in play?
What would account for it happening twice and then not happening again. The only real intervening act was to push on the wire jacket at the point it enters the clamp on the circuit panel. Very strange.
TKS
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/16/2015 04:29 PM, Texas Kingsnake wrote:

Yes, the power has to be OFF
...however... DO NOT FOOL with it . call a licensed electrician ASAP
Just tightening the connection is not going to be a fix as since there was arcing, some burned wires and connectors will need to be replaced
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
philo wrote:

Really ? Without seeing the situation you are going to tell this guy stuff needs to be replaced ? I go along with have a licensed electrician check it , since the OP doesn't seem to understand how serious this *COULD* be , but it could also be as simple as tightening the screw and walking away .
--
Snag



Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/16/2015 05:21 PM, Terry Coombs wrote:

Yes, He said it arced. That means there is 100% chance burning of some type has taken place. I go along with have a licensed electrician check it

That's how houses burn down...
I think all here agree that a qualified electrician should handle this.

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

BTW it is free for the power company to come out and pull the meter. No reason not to. No reason to call an electrician either.
When I tightened my mains, the power company guy was leaning on the wall watching me and even loaned me his 1/2 inch Allen wrench for the neutral connection.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/16/2015 4:29 PM, Texas Kingsnake wrote:

Sounds quite plausible and yes, simply pushing on the wire could easily have broken the point at which the arcing was happening.
It's certainly possible to just tighten the connection w/o cutting power; I'd be much more comfortable going on if I had seen the actual condition of the wire and connection before I just went on, however. If it was actually arcing to that point, good chance there's some built up corrosion and/or arc damage that should be taken care of.
Particularly if the external feed is Al instead of Cu, I'd not even think of not doing the above, cleaning it all up well and replacing the antioxidant.
--


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/16/2015 05:10 PM, dpb wrote:

I worked on high power circuitry for 38 years and cleaning a bad connection is not the answer.
Believe me I've tried. Once a connection has been burned and tarnished no amount of cleaning can ever again provide a satisfactory connection. All connectors and wires must be replaced...or if the wire/cable is long enough...cut back to good , fresh copper.
For low power circuitry, cleaning is probably OK though.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/16/2015 5:21 PM, philo wrote: ...

I don't know your scope of "high power circuitry" but I'm guessing it's far more than a house feed. I've had very good success over the years in doing so as long as the connector/wire haven't been severely damaged.
The key is first gotta look at what the situation really is, though, not just assume tightening alone will be enough.
--


Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/16/2015 05:48 PM, dpb wrote:

I worked with circuits 80 amps and above...which would come into the range of a house power feed.
I do believe your statement however and assume it was just a very small arc on a relatively low current circuit.
BTW: I found the picture of my socket wrench.
It was the day I decided that it would be OK to work on a live circuit as long as I had my wrench all taped up.
I was 100% sure of what I was doing until it slipped and the insulation was cut
https://www.dropbox.com/s/0zwcfigdo7deyfh/burnt.JPG?dl=0
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/16/2015 5:53 PM, philo wrote:

What voltage(s)? I've worked on/used HV instrumentation where it's definitely true that any imperfection is the death of the connectors, and on high amperage busses (kAmp power-plant kinda' things) where it's also true, but really never had any difficulties with the 100A 240V or less unless it was truly awful.
The farmstead wiring here dates to as early as the first REA days in places (1948) so I've quite a lot of experience over the house, barn, grain elevator, hog farrowing facility plus a half-dozen or so other outbuildings. There are loads from fractional to 15 hp scatter all over so have a pretty wide range of power/current draws.

"The road to hell..." We're all comfortable until something unexpected goes wrong.
--




Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/16/2015 06:34 PM, dpb wrote:

Since I worked on batteries and chargers the voltage was usually under 72 volts... but it was DC which is a whole different thing from AC.
My main point however was that if the OP heard hissing there was undoubtedly arcing and he really needs to call an electrician.
(the rest read but snipped for brevity)
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/16/2015 5:53 PM, philo wrote:

[snip[

LOL! Was it a Craftsman? What'd they say about their lifetime guarantee?
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/16/2015 06:44 PM, Unquestionably Confused wrote:

I knew better than to try and collect warranty on that one... yes it was Craftsman and I used the socket set the entire 38 years I was on the job.
The socket set was the only thing that lasted the whole time...and when it was time for me to turn in my tools, I kept it as a retirement present.
Obviously I replaced the parts shown in the photo and I took warranty on the ratchet a few times...but all other sockets went the distance.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

I guess 12VDC would qualify as low power, but some still draws a lot of amps. I've had to clean corroded wires many times on vehicles, and reconnect them. Just recently, there was a melted plug under my dash, powering the blower motor (for heater). I removed the plug and found the wires overheated, so I cut off a half inch on each end. That was all I could spare. Then I soldered them and taped. That plug is a common problem on my vehicle, and there have been some fires because of it. The plug was under rated for the current draw.There was a recall for it, but that expired years ago. The vehicle is a 1995 model. According to what a mechanic told me, the recall had them remove the plug and crimp the wires together. I think soldering is a far better splice than crimp connectors.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 16 Oct 2015 19:30:15 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@none.com wrote:

Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/16/2015 09:21 PM, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

Oh such memories. My first paid electrical repair job was my dad's '55 Chevy. Found a bad connector at the brake light. Cut the connector off...soldered and taped and got a buck from my dad. Think that was around 1962.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On 10/16/2015 07:30 PM, snipped-for-privacy@none.com wrote:

I worked a lot with connectors up to 350 amps and UL approved either soldering or crimping.
No one at my company had a problem with either method as long as done properly.
The important thing you did right was to cut back to good copper.
We usually crimped just because it was faster and no flames were needed to do so.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

If the connection is subject ot viberartion, the crimp , if done correctly, is beter than soldering. The solder makes it into a solid wire and flexing will break it over time.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload
On Fri, 16 Oct 2015 23:08:39 -0400, "Ralph Mowery"

crimped connection. Soldered connections should be re-enforced with heat shrink tupe beyond the solder-stiffened area of the wire.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

But the proper crimped connection is a lot berter than an improperly soldered connectiion.
You are defeating the purpose when not doing things the correct way.
Add pictures here
<% if( /^image/.test(type) ){ %>
<% } %>
<%-name%>
Add image file
Upload

Related Threads

    HomeOwnersHub.com is a website for homeowners and building and maintenance pros. It is not affiliated with any of the manufacturers or service providers discussed here. All logos and trade names are the property of their respective owners.