Circuit breaker box hisses

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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca posted for all of us...

How about when he tugs on the hex wrench and braces himself using the enclosure? Or better yet those $5 gummies on a moist concrete floor.
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Tekkie

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wrote:

My response was to the following - and I quote " If he wants to be completely safe, pull the meter until you can get an electrician."
Someone said to pull the meter and call an electrician. I'm not talking about repairing the fault. Pulling the meter is NOT something a homeowner should do - and it is NOT necessary to render the bad connection safe. Throwing the main breaker disconnects all loads from the service- making the bad connection a non issue and totally safe untill the electrician arrives and has the utility do the disconnect - either by pulling the fuse on the pole, or pulling the meter.
You call yourself a "tekkie". I'm not so sure.
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca posted for all of us...

Sorry, I didn't read that. But then again I don't read many of these thread s because they go into another orbit.
If I promise to read your stuff more carefully will you forgive me?
Do you see the part in your reply where you state to pull the meter, then later state it is not necessary. Flip the breaker. I am sorry if I'm confused but did I read it correctly? Not trying to be confrontational but perhaps I mixed replies up...
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wrote:

an instruction was in quotes - " If he wants to be completely safe, pull the meter until you can get an electrician." quoting what another poster had recommended, and saying "Pulling the meter is NOT something a homeowner should do - and it is NOT necessary to render the bad connection safe"
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca posted for all of us...

Okay, I'll pay more attention.
Some of these threads seem to be genetically modified.
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Tekkie

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On 10/16/2015 08:43 PM, Ed Pawlowski wrote:

Or determine which branh it's on and simply not use that side.
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On Fri, 16 Oct 2015 17:29:57 -0400, "Texas Kingsnake"

By the way, you may also have a bad breaker causing that hum. Fix the Mains connection first, then watch and listen to the breaker feeding the laundry. If it does hum, replace it!
I will mention that when a motor starts, it draws a lot more amperage than when it's running. That's why you see that spark when it starts.
If you do shut off the power to repair that mains lug, check the other ones too (neutral included). And apply some Anti-Sieze to the screws so they are easier to move in the future. (Thats if they turn at all. That arcing could have welded that problem one in place, which means you have a bigger problem.
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On Fri, 16 Oct 2015 17:29:57 -0400, "Texas Kingsnake"

Hint: This is the main. The meter is the only way to turn off power here.

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On Fri, 16 Oct 2015 22:56:43 -0400, Seymore4Head

I forgot to add you do not have to turn the power off, but there is no reason not to.

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Howdy folks,
I read all the excellent replies (thanks to all). Here's what I am going to do. I will put on my long linesman rubber gloves, place a thick rubber mat on the floor in front of the box and use a large insulated screwdriver to see if the screw (it's slotted, not hex-keyed) will turn and by how much.
I haven't been able to recreate the arcing since pushing the feed wire slightly right above the bus clamp. I will, on next trip to the box, look for discoloration of the wire in the clamp area and burn or sputter marks near the terminal. I will also try to measure the washing machine's start up current to see if it's abnormally high (if my clamp meter can register it - I believe it has a peak lock but am not sure - just got a new HF one to replace the Wavetek that had a terminal battery leak.)
I appreciate the concern for my life, Philo, and my wife is making sure my will is in order. I will wear goggles since I know a spasm of some sort could arc weld my screwdriver to the panel and throw molten metal into my eyes.
DPB - I'll try to take a close up picture of the wire where it enters the clamp but no guarantees. The last time I uploaded pictures no one could see them. I'll at least try to describe what I see now I know what I am looking for.
I'm upstairs now, but for some reason I thought the feed wire was tinned copper but it could easily be I was looking at aluminum wire and didn't realize it. The upgrade to the panel occurred in 1972 according to the labels, and IIRC that's when aluminum was still thought to be a good idea in residential wiring. I think you're right in that just pushing on the wire changed something because I cannot get the arc to occur DESPITE putting two space heaters running at 15A on the outlets served by the left side of the panel.
It's really just random chance we were both standing where we were when this happened - who knows how long it could have continued. I tried to assure my wife the reason that the circuits are in the metal box was to prevent an arcing connection from throwing sparks into the room. She's with Philo and thinks resetting the clocks and VCRs is worth the safety edge of working on a de-energized circuit. My opinon is "meh, you got to go sometime and getting eletrocuted is probably better than some ways of dying!!!"
I have a neighbor who is an electrician so I am going to consult with him tomorrow about what to do. If it's discolored and corroded at the entry to the clamp, I will consider replacing the entire feed wire from the meter to the panel since I think that's a relative small piece of what looks to be #6 wire - can't read the markings but am on my way downstairs with a camera with a macro lens. If all the feed wires are AL, I will consider replacing all three wires from the panel to the meter with new copper. If it happened on one wire, it's possible it could happen on the others.
And snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca, if the screw won't turn, I won't be spraying it with anything flammable while it's live. I feel comfortable trying to tighten the screw and take photos while it's live, but if it requires closer inspection, of course I will kill the power to the panel.
Thanks again for all the thoughtful replies. It might be a few days before you hear back from me if the worst comes to pass - well, if the very worst comes to pass (I die) you won't hear from me so I will try my best to let you know if I survive.
The worst shocks I've ever gotten were not from replacing breakers in a live panel but where I least expected it. I was changing a light bulb in a flooded basement when it popped in my hand and I was suddenly touching the naked filament wire. Or when I was working on a space heater that had stopped heating and thought I had unplugged it from the outlet but I had actually unplugged my DC variable power supply that was plugged in next to it. ZAPPPPPPP!
TKS
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On 10/16/2015 11:59 PM, Texas Kingsnake wrote:

[snip]

Problem with that is that this is not a binary group. You have to upload the photo to a cloud source (Dropbox.com is free and easy to use) and then post a link (again easy with Dropbox) in your posting here. We just click on the link and ...
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On 10/17/2015 12:59 AM, Texas Kingsnake wrote:

While in the panel, please consider tighten the other power feed wire. And the neutral. And then go down the row of breakers, and snug down all the black wires. I've also had neutrals and grounds come loose, so perhaps those need snug down also.
Looking forward to a follow up report, please.
- . Christopher A. Young learn more about Jesus . www.lds.org . .
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On Sat, 17 Oct 2015 10:04:55 -0400, Stormin Mormon

the breakers connect. If it is an FPE or other cheap-assed panel, consider replacing it particularly if there is ANY sign of heat or arcing on the buss.
I just replaced my complete (fused) panel and meter base with a new QO 32 /64 panel with whole house surge protector for $2400 canadian including taxes and inspection. Could have done it for $400 less using a homeline or Cuttler Hammer BR panel and no surge protector.
I considered the upgrade to the copper buss QO worth the extra money
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On 10/16/2015 11:59 PM, Texas Kingsnake wrote:

First off, as mentioned ,the power company will disconnect your power free, so I'd do that. Since what you are doing will only take a minute, I'm sure they will stick around and reconnect .
That said I already know you are just going to go ahead and do it...so good luck to you.
In addition the the shock hazard, it the possibility of shorting something out if your Allen wrench slips. (Hope you saw my photo)
Finally, if things do look at all burned...even a slight tarnish, the money you spend to have a qualified electrician fix it will be a pittance compared to your house burning down.
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On Sat, 17 Oct 2015 00:59:18 -0400, "Texas Kingsnake"

It's not just sprying it when it's live that can be an issue. Penetrating oil is flammable, so if you use it to free up a galled fastener, you need to remove it completely before re-energizing the circuit so it doesn't ignite if it sparks again. Use a "safe" brake cleaner to degrease it. This means "non chlorinated" solvents ONLY. CRC Braakleen Non Chlorinated brake cleaner is one example - but NEVER use it on energized equipment, and allow fumes to disburse before re-energizing or exposing to spark.

The worst I ever got was from an old television power transformer I used as a hobby power supply as a young teanager. This was from an old pre-flyback set and had a 30kv high voltage winding at one end - opposite the 1.3? 5, 6, and 12 volt filament windings I usually played with. The basement was only about 5 feet high. I touched that 30kv wre and straightened up, hitting my head on the floorboards above me (between the floor joists)- finding the sharp end of a nail holding the underlay to the subfloor, and driving the head up through the linoleum on the livingroom floor above me. Now THAT HURT!!!!!!
Almost as bad was forgetting to turn off the "tamper alarm" on my 1963 valliant before opening the hood. 115hz auto radio multivibrator feeding a bosch ignition coil connected to a strip of window break detector foil over a mylar insulation strip on the leading edge of the hood - controlled by a jam switch on the hood.
That sucker would really charge your batteries if you opened the hood without turning it off first!!!!

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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca posted for all of us...

+1 HA HA HA, that's good one!
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wrote:

It has been told on this forum before - - - -
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Texas Kingsnake posted for all of us...

Finally a break through! Stop the nonsense and just ask him. He will probably be over in 5 minutes and repair the problem. (As long as he has parts or source to get them during normal hours)
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On Fri, 16 Oct 2015 17:29:57 -0400, "Texas Kingsnake"

I'm not telling you whether to do this or not, but if you decide to do it, well-insulated screwdriver means wrapping electric tape or maybe silicon tape over the whole shaft and blade, overlapping so there's more than one layer, so when the screwdriver slips, only the very tip will likely connect electrically.
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wrote:

Also helps to prevent the reflexive action of guiding the tip of the screwdriver to the target screw with your (foolishly) ungloved left hand.
DAMHIKT
Short status report and then back to longer replies to everyone when this is over. Gotta prep the area for the wire-ectomy and move some loads to other circuits not on the sparking side.
Left hot wire is heat damaged and that damage may extend into the 100A breaker (dual? tie-handled? - not sure of the right terms) but it's the breaker that takes the street feed on both sides. The frikkin' wire seems to be aluminum.
The left feed's bare metal is dark and discolored and could be either. The neutral wire is un-insulated and very loosely braided and silver colored, which leads me to believe I've got an aluminum feed from the meter. Crap.
The right hot* from the pole is thick, rubbery plastic obviously cut back with a pen knife or someone's teeth and there I can see silvery wire that appears to be covered with some amber colored gel (the reflection made it look copper-y until I stood on the ladder and got a closer look). Have switched off most of the breakers to that side of the panel.
Electrician should drop by later today - family friend so I can't push. He said with the cover back on, it should NOT be a fire hazard because the arking would be contained and the worst that *should* happen is that we lose power on the outlets and devices connected to that side of the panel. I asked again about the fire hazard because of the number of people that talked about it. He said what I do depends on my level of paranoia.
I think I can handle this sort of repair - there's enough of a loop in the wire in question to cut back at least an inch and maybe more. Not sure I want to do that. Would rather have copper feed wires but probably could live with a cut back/repair if it lasts 10 years. This may trigger the need to go to a new panel and a rewire of the whole house. It's got old, cloth-covered wire that's really aged.
More to follow and hopefully photos as well . . .
TKS
*Is there a better way to describe the two different hots from the pole?
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