I just wanted to mention that the symptoms that you originally described are
no longer present, apparently as a result of you following the above steps.
But, as you indicated, that doesn't explain why the problem occurred in the
So, at this point, we don't really know what caused the original problem and
I had similar situation and set of symptoms once with the electrical panel
in a tenant occupied single family home. The complaint was that one of the
breakers would trip every once in a while and that the tenant would reset
the breaker and everything would be okay. Then, the current problem became
that she sometimes had problems getting the breaker to reset and finally she
was unable to get the breaker to reset at all. She also mentioned smelling
a faint odor of something burning near the panel (which I know was not one
of your symptoms).
I went there and, like you, I wasn't able to reset the breaker. I could
switch it to "off", but on reset, it would just trip again. And, like you,
I noticed a slight spark on one of my reset attempts. When I turned the
main breaker off, I could reset the problem breaker, and when I turned the
main power back on the problem breaker stayed on and everything worked.
But, I wasn't convinced that the problem was resolved even though the
breaker did reset and didn't trip.
So, I turned off the main power and I removed the breaker. That's when I
saw that the center terminal to which the breaker attaches was melted.
Apparently, there was some type of loose contact between the breaker and the
center terminal and it must have been causing some type of arcing that
heated up the terminal to the point that it melted.
What I did then was take that breaker completely out. I bought a new
breaker for that circuit but I moved the new breaker to a different position
in the panel box where it would connect to a perfectly good center terminal.
I put a snap-in cover plate in the space on the panel cover where the
original breaker had been located (I forget what they are called) to cover
the hole that was created by removing the original breaker.
That completely solved the problem and there has been no problem since then.
So, even though the symptoms that you experienced are now gone, you may want
to try unsnapping that breaker and one or two nearby and look to see what
the terminals underneath look like. Of course, turn the power off first and
be sure to use all of the necessary precautions regarding any part of the
panel that may still be live even with the main circuit breaker off.
Maybe your problem is now fixed, or maybe you will see evidence of arcing
and burning where the breaker contacts the center terminal.
It is worth a look just in case.
Wow. Just wow.
It's guys like you and a few of the rest who put to shame those guys
who told me 'go get an electrician, you idiot!'.
This is *fantastic* real-world advice!
Thank you very much. I will report back if I find something (gotta run
right now though)...
By coincidence, today I happened to be at the property that I was referring
to in the above scenario about the burned and melted terminals inside the
panel that I discovered when one of the breakers could not be reset. I was
there today to install an over-the-range microwave with a new dedicated
circuit. So, I had an opportunity to open up the panel and I took a couple
The links below are photos showing some of the burned terminals that I found
in the past:
The second one shows a red wire nut on the right where I spliced in a wire
to move that circuit down to a new location on a new breaker further down in
Sorry, the tinypic.com links do not seem to be working. I'll try again
later tonight or in the next day or so. I have a hunch that it is the
tinypic.com website that is having the problem, so if anyone knows of a
better, or easier, and free photo upload site please let me know.
Good call! I think you are correct about that. The panel says "Challenger"
and the old circuit breakers in the panel say "Challenger" on them. But,
when I went to an electrical supply place to buy new circuit breakers they
said they are Cutler Hammer breakers and that's what I bought and used to
replace the old bad breakers.
I didn't know that this panel was known for that problem.
I also just discovered that when I right-click on each of the photos that I
posted, it shows an option for me to make the image larger. Then, on the
larger image, I can left-click on the image and it gets even large. When I
do that, I can read the print on the circuit breakers and also see the
burned and melted parts more clearly.
Good catch. and thanks for reminding us that some times the
contact between the breaker and the bar corrodes.
I saw some thing similar in a house, where the double 100
breaker brings the power in was corroded.
I've learned to have the old one in hand while
going to the hardware store. "I'd like one of
these" is a good approach. BTW, if they are not
too expensive, buy two and put the spare in the
panel for next time.
Things like that are not in most books. It is a good idea to tighten all
the screws while the panel is off also. I remember stories of the aluminum
house wiring that would hapen to and could cause a fire.
Most homes are fed with large aluminum wire and that does not seem to be a
problem. The problems seem to be the smaller # 12 and # 14 wire to the
lights and recepticals.
Sometimes the range will be wired with aluminum wire. The reason is that
aluminum wire is less expensive than copper, or was at the time. To use
aluminum instead of copper you have to go up a couple of sizes larger as it
is less conductive.
On Friday, January 22, 2016 at 9:25:47 AM UTC-5, E. Robinson wrote:
I'm not looking up thread, so I may be missing some details. I am only
responding to this post...
If I saw a panel cover with a marking that said ""Do not remove this
twistout" I would want to know why. I would pull the cover and look at
area behind the twistout to see if I could determined why it was
labeled that way. I would not assume the panel was full.
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