Hot bus bar replacement?

I had a problem in electric service panel in a home that I own. One of the breakers kept tripping. When I checked it out, the breaker was basically fried and when I took it out it looked like the breaker pictured in the link below: http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?22124-Service-Panel-Problem-Bryant-Breaker-Fried&p 6839&viewfull=1
And, just like the description of the problem in the link, in my case the other breaker that attached to the same hot lug(?) was also damaged. I replaced both breakers and moved both down to a new location where the hot terminal of the bus bar wasn't damaged. An electrician had to do the same thing with another breaker in the past, and he had to move that one too because hot lug to which that breaker was connected had melted.
This time, when looking at the whole panel, it appears that the breakers are all old and there are some signs of rust or corrosion on the breaker screws etc. I am assuming they are just old and maybe there was dampness in the basement and the humidity was starting to corrode things.
My initial plan is to replace all of the breakers with new ones, which I can easily do.
But, my real question is whether it is possible or practical to just replace the hot bus bar at the same time since the old one has heat damage at a few places. Unless this is something fairly easy to do, I would probably have an electrician do it.
Assuming that the part is available, is replacing the hot bus bar a fairly easy thing for an electrician to do? If so, the reason that I would want to have that done rather than get the whole panel replaced is that everything else in the panel appears to be fine. The main breaker had already been replaced by an electrician in the past, so rather than having to have all of the wiring removed and start over with a new panel, it seems like just replacing the hot bus bar and circuit breakers would solve the problem and save a whole lot on the cost and time involved in doing the fix.
The service panel is a 100-amp Challenge brand panel with probably 30 circuits. I know Challenger is no longer in business and was bought by Cutler-Hammer (now Easton Cutler-Hammer, I think). And, I know that Cutler-Hammer circuit breakers are the replacement for the existing Challenger BR breakers that I have. But, whether a replacement hot bus bar part is available, I don't know.
So, again, my main question is: Assuming that the part is available, is replacing the hot bus bar a fairly easy thing for an electrician to do?
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Not an answer to your exact question, but given all the above, I would give serious consideration to simply replacing the whole panel and being done with it, unless there is some reason why the enclosure would be difficult to R&R. You could likely do it yourself if you are reasonably handy; you may have to pull a permit for the work, and schedule an outage with the power company. They'll just come and pull the meter so you can work on it safely and then put the meter back in after you pass your inspection. New 100A panel should be less than $200 at supply house unless I am way out of touch.
I believe current opinion is that Square-D "QO" is the top of the line residential panel, but if you are on a real limited budget you could just use a new C-H panel and use the existing breakers from your old panel that are still in good condition. (I wouldn't really recommend that however based on the problems that you describe.)
good luck
nate
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wrote:

ASSuming the part is available is a very large assumption - but if it is, it is a very trivial job on most panels.
If it is rivetted instead of bolted or screwed it could get a bit more involved.
However, In the circumstances, I'd be replacing that panel
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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

>http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?22124-Service-Panel-Problem-Bryant-Breaker-Fried&p 6839&viewfull=1
Given the low cost of a 100A 32 space new panel at around and the fact that the OP is planning on replacing all the breakers anyway, I think it would be crazy to try to rebuild a damaged and obsolete panel. Put a new basic GE panel in, or better yet a Square D QO (not Homeline) panel in for a little bit more and you won't have to deal with panel repairs again in your lifetime.
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On Wed, 01 Dec 2010 18:06:01 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

I'd take it one step further and replace the house. BX wiring and #14 wire on 20A breakers is just plain outdated. Tear down the house and rebuild from scratch.
----- I'm filthy rich and proud of it.
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http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?22124-Service-Panel-Problem-Bryant-Breaker-Fried&p 6839&viewfull=1
Don't waste your time, next you'll be needing a new obsolete main breaker. Change the panel with something mainstream, although I don't know that you're going to find a 100 amp panel with 30 circuits

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I had problems with a panel once. I went to a Electical shop and they had bins full of parts salvaged from old panels. The guy rooted around and found the exact part I needed and gave it to me.
I have experienced warm moist air from the house travelling up inside the servace entrance conduit and then condensing when it reaches a cold spot. The water then drips back down into the panel and causes it to fail. I fixed the problem by sealing the bottom of the conduit where the wires enter to prevent the warm moist air from entering.
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On Wed, 1 Dec 2010 17:33:20 -0800, "Bill"

Particularly since it is MOST likely the (reduced) breaker tab tension that is causing the buss to burn.
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RogerT wrote:

http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?22124-Service-Panel-Problem-Bryant-Breaker-Fried&p 6839&viewfull=1
Another vote for replacing the panel. Parts should cost around $300 and if your hand fits a screwdriver, you can complete the job in an afternoon.
If you decide to go that route, check back here for detailed advice and the steps to take.
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how old is the main service cable? its likely ancient and ideally upgrade to 200 amp main with new everything.
the main panel cost difference between 100 amp and 200 amp is pretty small. plus you can get more breakers in a 200 amp panel
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snipped-for-privacy@aol.com wrote: -

Yep. REALLY small. Like ten bucks.
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wrote:

Not necessarilly true. Very often the only difference between a 100 and a 200 is the main breaker - the same number of breaker slots available on each.

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snipped-for-privacy@snyder.on.ca wrote:

My mistake. More like $40 difference.
* Square-D 100Amp, 20 spaces, 20 circuits: ~$80.00 http://www.hardwareandtools.com/Square-D-HOM20M100C-Homeline-100-Amp-Breaker-Load-Center-6745657.html
* Square-D 200Amp, 20 spaces, 40 circuits: ~$120.00 http://www.tooldistrict.com/200a-main-breaker-loadcenter-hom2040m200tc-by-square-d.aspx
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RogerT wrote:

http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?22124-Service-Panel-Problem-Bryant-Breaker-Fried&p 6839&viewfull=1
Where the hell you gonna find a bus bar for that? Get a new box.
--
LSMFT

Simple job, assist the assistant of the physicist.
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re: "there are some signs of rust or corrosion on the breaker screws etc. I am assuming they are just old and maybe there was dampness in the basement and the humidity was starting to corrode things"
or...
In my case, water was getting into the service cable either at the meter or at the bugs. Even though the service cable travelled up hill in some locations, water was finding it's way into the house and dripping from the top of the breaker box. The problem was pointed out to me by a rep from the electric company when they were in the house for an unrelated electrical matter.
The lowest spot in the service cable was just below the meter, so I took a utliity knife and made a tiny slit in the bottom of the jacket. Water actually drained out of the cable and I never saw signs moisture in the panel again.
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Thanks everyone for the replies.
I was thinking that if replacing the hot bus bar was an easy and fairly common thing to do that maybe I would just go that route. I thought that would avoid the labor involved in having all of the existing cirucits removed from the old panel, put a new panel in, and reconnect all of the cirucits. But it appears that even finding the correct replacement bus bar for the existing panel would be an issue, and the consensus seems to be that I'd be much better off anyway replacing the entire service panel.
Someone mentioned not reusing the old breakers -- I wouldn't want to do that anyway and never had that in mind. And, someone else mentioned something about 14 guage wire being on 20-amp breakers. I don't know where that came from because there is no 14 guage wire on any 20-amp breakers in the existing service panel, and I would never do that either.
I don't ever do any service panel replacements on my own. I'm pretty sure I could figure it out and learn how to do it if needed, but dealing with the main service power lines that come in to the panel is really out of my league. Even changing a main breaker is something that I have never done and I wouldn't want to be doing on my own. I am pretty comfortable with mostly everything after the main breaker, although I am not so sure I would want to take on replacing the hot bus bar in a panel.
The good news is that there is an electric company almost next door to where this property is and I have had them do work there before. I also have a licensed electrician that I use for new electric service at other properties I have. So, I can easily get a price for having a new service panel put in at this property. But, before contacting the almost-next-door electric company, I wanted to check and see what people here thought of the possibility of just replacing the bus bar rather than the whole panel. I'll ask them too when they look at the job, just in case they think it would be a good idea and they could get the part etc.
I agree that getting 200-amp service instead of 100-amp service is usually worth it when getting a new service put in. The difference in price is not that much. When I have done that, the price difference was $200 in one case and $300 in another. Since that's only a one-time cost, the extra cost seems negligible to me over the life of the home. In the casses where I was getting a new service put in, the job included replacing a very old service and included a new drop being installed. Since that was being done anyway, I opted for 200-amp service whenever I could. I guess part of the increase in price from 100-amp to 200-amp service included the increased cost for the higher guage wire for the drop etc.
In this current property, the drop is already in place for the existing 100-amp service. I don't know the guage of that wire or whether it would accomodate a new 200-amp (or even 150-amp) service.
RogerT wrote:

http://www.terrylove.com/forums/showthread.php?22124-Service-Panel-Problem-Bryant-Breaker-Fried&p 6839&viewfull=1
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RogerT wrote:

Doing the panel replacement is quite easy for your own home, I've done a number of them over the years and taught "service panel replacement 101" for a few friends who did their own, all without the slightest issue. It sounds like you're talking about commercial / rental properties and in that case you end up with a lot of headaches if you want to do the upgrade yourself, so you're better off contracting it anyway.
Unless the house has a lot of large electric loads - stove, dryer, heat, A/C, hot tub, etc. there isn't a real compelling reason to upgrade to 200A service unless you are replacing the panel anyway *and* can confirm that the service drop and meter base are good for 200A.
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So instead of listening to the advice of a licensed contractor with whom you've had satisfactory business relationship(s) before, you ask the opinion of a bunch of strangers with no verifiable credentials?
I'm sure the contractor will tell you to replace the panel, and I know deep down in your gullet, you know that's the correct course of action. Quit trying to get someone to give you affirmation on your cheap shortcut fix, and do it right.
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wrote:

So instead of listening to the advice of a licensed contractor with whom you've had satisfactory business relationship(s) before, you ask the opinion of a bunch of strangers with no verifiable credentials?
I'm sure the contractor will tell you to replace the panel, and I know deep down in your gullet, you know that's the correct course of action. Quit trying to get someone to give you affirmation on your cheap shortcut fix, and do it right.
+++++++++
You're right. Instead of asking the opinion of a bunch of strangers with no verifiable credentials, I should take your advice. :-)
But, seriously..., I get a lot of good information here. And, from what I have seen some of the people here writing over the years, it is pretty easy to recognize that at least some people who post here have a lot of knowledge and experience that they generously share. I also get good information here from others whose names I may not have seen before, and whose credentials are unknown to me, but who nevertheless post excellent information, ideas, and suggestions that are really helpful. That's why I am here and I assume that's why you are here.
I don't blindly listen to the advice of licensed contractors, or the people here, or anyone else. What I like to do is learn as much as I can from a number of different sources and then make a decision.
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