No Power

Greetings,
An individual, we will call him Gus, called me complaining that he has no power in his house. I said I would try to help him over the phone if I could but I am at a loss as to what to tell this guy and was wondering if anyone had any ideas.
HISTORY ====================================Gus has had heavy rain for days. Gus lost power to part of the house. He went into the basement and turned off the breakers -- including the main breaker. When he turned the breakers back on there was no power at all. Gus called me.
WHAT WE HAVE ALREADY TRIED ====================================I had Gus check the neighbor's house to make sure power was not out (it wasn't). I had Gus buy a multi-meter. He checked the voltage coming into the main breaker and found it to be 248 VAC. The voltage between Pole A and Pole B on the bus bars is 0 with the main breaker on or off. I asked Gus to turn off all the other breakers, he did. Then I asked Gus to turn the main breaker off and on again but still found 0 volts between the bus bars. I had Gus pull the meter. I asked him to remove the main breaker and move it down two slots to make sure it was making good connection. He replaced the meter and the results were the same. I had him check the resistance between the two bus bars and found it to be infinite. The resistance between the bus bars and ground is also infinte. I had him replace the main breaker (with meter out, then the meter was put back in) and he claimed that the new main breaker would not stay in the ON position. I asked him to be sure it was fully off before turning it back on and he said it still would not stay in the on position. I asked him to pull the meter. I asked him to keep the main breaker wired in but to pull it off the bus bars which he did. He put the meter back in. The new main breaker would not stay in the "ON" position even when not touching the bus bars -- can it tell it's not in?
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION ===================================Namebrand: Cutler Hammer (low end stuff) Store: Lowes Cost: $58 for 100 amp box installed and functioning for about 9 months before this problem $24 for a new 100A main breaker
Any help (other than "call an electrician") would be appreciated. The only thing I can figure is he either has two bad 100A main breakers or he didn't do everything I asked.
Thank you for your time and energy, William Deans
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does the power company meter indicate any usage? it should not be turning when the main breaker is out of the circuit.
tested out of circuit in your hand with ohmmeter, turn main off then on and read ohms should be zero ohms. turn breaker off, does ohmmeter read infinity?
is it possible that the earth ground is electrified by a water shorted cable elsewhere and throwing off your readings?
do you know you need to visit gus with a good pair of rubber boots and heavy rubber gloves for this mischief you're getting him into?
good luck, and take a portable GFI and long heavy duty extension cords to buy some electricity from the neighbor while you figure this out.
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If I had to guess, I would say the main breaker is bad, especially with the moisture problem. Sometimes when they go bad you will still get some voltage on the bad side which tends to throw some people off. I would think Lowes or HomeDepot would take a new breaker back if that's not the problem and it's returned the same day. IF a new breaker trips when inserted then you have no choice but to turn off all the others and then turn on one at a time until you find the faulty circuit but on the other hand to trip a 100 A breaker would take an almost direct short circuit. I'd still bet on a bad main breaker. Let us know the outcome.
J
snipped-for-privacy@wdeans.com wrote:

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Unlikely he has two bad breakers in a row. I might guess he isn't throwing the breaker far enough, some breakers require extra movement to reset.
--
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Sounds like a bad main breaker and your friend is not competent enough to install a replacement. He probably should get a pro to do it right.

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Troubleshooting over the phone is like getting a haircut over the Phone. It just doesn't work.
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Some sort of ground fault sounds likely to me too. A bad batch of breakers? Very curious.
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3 possibilities;
Gus is screwing up Two bad main breakers A short in the box (the main breaker trips immediately, if I understood the story right)
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snipped-for-privacy@wdeans.com wrote:

Thank you all very much.
The answer is that it was a single bad main breaker. Gus removed the bad main breaker and then put it back in instead of the new one. He said it was dark and apparently he lost track of which was which. He didn't realize until this morning when he was inspecting the "original" breaker and felt it looked a little too new.
I have helped a number of people over the telephone with house repair issues, computer issues, etc and the hardest cases are cases where you get misinformation. I guess he had two identical breakers out and I should have told him to mark them in some way before removing the old one. The thing is, he probably would have been offended by that.
Thank you all again, William
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I know you said you wanted a different answer, CALL AN ELECTRICIAN!!!
It's not worth burning the house down to save a few dollars PLUS the insurance company won't cover the house (when it DOES burn down) if an unlicensed "electrician" (GUS) had been working on it.

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Dr. Hardcrab wrote:

Greetings,
In many areas homeowners are allowed to do their own electrical repair work without voiding their insurance policy. Replacing a faulty breaker with an identical one is surely listed as a repair.
Hope this helps, William

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One time when I was working with a friend on a trailer he'd just bought, we were doing some work on the wiring. I suggested we turn off all the power. He replied that he'd just turned off the mains.
Well, the small box inside the trailer didn't have "mains" but did have a double 30 breaker for the water heater. he'd turned off the water heater, and left all the other breakers turned on. Cause he'd thought he turned off the "mains".
I've read through your description, and it sounds like you need to thank Gus for his efforts, and then get a different worker to his house. Cause something just isn't adding up.
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Christopher A. Young
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Stormin Mormon wrote:

Thank you all very much.
The answer is that it was a single bad main breaker. Gus removed the bad main breaker and then put it back in instead of the new one. He said it was dark and apparently he lost track of which was which. He didn't realize until this morning when he was inspecting the "original" breaker and felt it looked a little too new.
I have helped a number of people over the telephone with house repair issues, computer issues, etc and the hardest cases are cases where you get misinformation. I guess he had two identical breakers out and I should have told him to mark them in some way before removing the old one. The thing is, he probably would have been offended by that.
Thank you all again, William
PS: Yes, I posted this elsewhere within this newsgroup topic but that subthread appears to have missed Stormin Mormon and because I value his future opinions I want to be sure he gets a response to his post.
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