Electric Service Panel

Every once in awhile the power will just go out in my house. When I go to the service panel and turn the Main power swith off and then back on it seems fine again. Sometimes I need to jiggle the main power switch for it to go back on.
It looks like two sideways mounted light switchs attached together. It is also sometimes slightly warm in the touch. I have neither added nor subtracted any appliances or changed their locations it the past 6 months.
This just started happen a few days ago and has never happened before. It just feels like the main power switch is like a chanky old light switch on it's last leg. The panel was upgraded to 100 amp 15 years ago.
The question is can I just have an electrician come and change the main power switch. Can I do it myself? I would prefer not to fool with it, and does it sound like a relatively inexpensive job? Any other suggestion would be much appreciated. Thanks.
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kato wrote:

Changing out the main would be my first guess. You can do this yourself, but if you are the least bit concerned, I would have an electrician do it for you. Probably cost about $50.00 plus the cost of the breaker.
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Robert Allison
Rimshot, Inc.
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I had a certified electrician look at it. The main breaker needs to be replaced. Job consists of a permit ($25), new breaker for older model panel ($85), labour and travelling time ($95).. The meter will be removed to cut power and then the power company will come out to reseal it. Total price of repair including taxes $250. A completely new panel installed is close to $500. As the house will be sold within 2-3 years, I'm opting for the repair only. Thanks for your opinions.
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Its funny, the main breaker is no more dangerous than an outlet, but it is somehow terrifying. I still get nervous when I check for tightness every now and then. It is a very simple to replace the main breaker, but if you are not comfortable with it, then get an electrician. It shouldn't take more than 30 minutes.
It might just be that the breaker is not seated properly, or that one of the contacts is loose. You "might" want to check those first. If you 1) wear shoes, 2) keep one hand behind your back, 3) wear rubber gloves, 4) are careful not to touch anything you don't mean to, and 5) use an insulated tool, you can't go too far wrong. (1, 2, and 3 are completely unnecessary, but they protect you in case you screw up on 4 or 5)
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Not true at all. You can turn off the power to anoutlet, even all the other breakers but the main is HOT all the time. These are service conductors with no effective overcurent protection. If you do want to do this call the power company and see what the policy is on resealing the meter. You need to cut the seal and pull the meter before you start (it just plugs in). Just make sure they are OK with it before you do. They may send a guy out to swap your breaker if you have it. Be sure you get the same type of breaker, listed as service equipment. Be sure the breaker is off when you pull the meter.
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What on earth are you talking about? The main breaker is dangerous as hell, and it _should_ be at least a bit scary. There's _no_way_ to disconnect power from it without pulling the meter or disconnecting at the transformer: those lugs are _always_ hot and therefore always dangerous.

What, exactly, are you checking for tightness? The lugs that hold your service entrance cables to the main breaker? Do you not realize that those lugs are hot?
-- Regards, Doug Miller (alphageek at milmac dot com)
Nobody ever left footprints in the sands of time by sitting on his butt. And who wants to leave buttprints in the sands of time?
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Yes I realize they are hot. I also realize that aluminum wire connections should be tightened periodically. They only have 120v on them! An insulated allen wrench and you are good to go.
Do you shut off the main breaker when you change a branch breaker? Then why are you concerned about the main breaker?
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This is a guy who doesn't have a clue what "available fault current" means. Have you ever seen what 10,000+ amps at "only" 120v can do? Fault current on service conductors is only limited by the size of the conductors. Eventually the primary fuse on the transformer may open but that will be long after the arc flash has burned the handyman to a crisp.

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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote:

I have seen what it can do, and you are exagerating quite a bit. I was tightening the lugs in a meter box many years ago when I didn't have a clue. I hit the metal box with the shaft of the screwdriver while I was tightening a hot lug. I had it pretty tight, so the screwdriver was biting into the soft metal screw slot.
It was impressive. I still have that screwdriver with the shaft burned halfway through and the tip vaporized. (It didn't hurt the lug screw or the meter box except for a little burn mark covered up by the meter seal.)
Best regards, Bob
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6) prayer 7) keep insurance paid up 8) have a second adult nearby with instructions not to try heroic measures until after calling for an ambulance 9) Stand on dry wooden platform
--

Christopher A. Young
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