Why are a couple breakers on my panel oily?

Hey I am busy tracking down a flickering light problem.
I noticed three of the breakers in my panel have a light coating of an oily substance. Do any of you have this? Shouldn't these things be totally dry?
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Aluminum wire? All I can think is that someone got sloppy with antioxidant. There shouldn't be anything else greasy near a circuit box.
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Toller wrote:

Flickering circuit makes me think of oxidized connection-->hot terminal. Result is outgassing of plastic/insulation collecting on surface, perhaps?
OP, I'd sure be looking very closely at any signs of overheating, checking for loose connections, signs of oxidation/burn insulation, etc., etc.
If I didn't find something easily correctible I'd recommend a pro, espectially if this is new symptom. Could be early warning sign of potentially serious trouble.
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Well, I opened every outlet, junction and switch box on the entire circuit to check the connections. All were pretty secure except one, which I re-tightened with a new wire nut. All the connections looked like copper to me.
I unplugged a "permanent" extension cord the previous owner had drawn through a basement window and left outside.
The lights still flicker. I am waiting on the power company to check the house connection.
Tonight I'm thinking of turning off the main and having a look inside the breaker box.
I don't think it's grease - it's very oily and clear.
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bryanska wrote:

Did you check grounds/neutrals?
Is this only a single circuit or do other circuits in the house have a problem too? If it's only one, it won't be the house connection.
I'd be looking especially closely at the ground/neutral connections in the supply box and for signs of overheating there if (as this sounds like) you haven't.
Are any of these breakers warm to the touch?
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Two ceiling light boxes in the basement are ungrounded. These are just bare light bulbs screwed into ceramic collar-type fixtures that are directly attached to a junction box. The ground wire that should be entering the junction box is peeled from the bundle and snipped off before it enters the box.

I've read this, but have also read that the whole house connection should be checked. Since it's free, I figured they might as well.

That is the next step: taking off the box cover and checking things inside. I'll tighten all the ground screws and look at the bar to check for signs of arcing and corrosion.
Everyone says to look for arcing signs: blackened or burned things around the ground connection. Should I be looking for anything else?
We had a huge storm on September 20th and I wonder if it started then. I don't seem to remember it when we first moved in on August 31st. The power was out for 4 days. This is another reason the power company should check: they had to put up over a thousand new poles in the MPLS area.
None of the breakers are warm to the touch. All are the same temperature.
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What do you think about rain? I wonder if rain got into the box, and diluted the antioxidant paste, and pushed it out.
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Pop off the cover of the break box and take a look-see. Any significant water ingress is going to leave lots of signs (stains & corroded connections at the very least).
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Just 3 and none of the others. Electrician with dirty hands maybe. or used the three spares from the bottom of his toolbox.
If the rest of the box is clean, I suggest they were dirty before they were installed.
antioxident paste is not water soluable (it excludes water and air to prevent corrosion) so should not be redistributed by water and should not vaporize due to heat. Though that may be exactly what is on them just not how.
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Someone over greased the electrical panel. You should only put 3 or 4 squirts from a grease gun into eack grease fitting on the breaker box. I have seen people pump the grease gun until the entire box is filled with grease. One guy put in so much grease it was coming out every outlet in the house and some of the lightbulbs were even filled with grease. Remember, you are only lubricating the wires so they dont squeak when they fill with electricity.
wrote:

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I was about to ask you what the hell you were talking about, but I kept reading.
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I've got squeaky wires, especially at night time when the house is quite you can hear them, what type of grease do you recommend? Also, after reading your post I looked for a fitting on my panel, but didn't see one similar to a grease nipple on my trailer tires, are the two similar at all?
Thanks,
Dave
oh, and by the way, I just found this new fantastic brand of blinker fluid for my car, the lights have never worked better since I started using it.
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You probably have greaseless wires. Lots of builders cut costs by using cheap sleeve wires instead of a quality ball-bearing wire. They save a bundle by not having to lube the wires, but after a decade or so they start to squeal and you're stuck with having to replace all the wires. Sorry to be the bearer of bad news.
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they >start to squeal and you're stuck with having to replace all the wires. Sorry to be the >bearer of bad news.
The wires are Lucas branded: "Made in the UK" and then stamped with the phrase "Bob's Your Uncle".
Should I be concerned?
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so they >start to squeal and you're stuck with having to replace all the wires. Sorry to be the >bearer of bad news.

Made in the U.K. ? Then you probably have metric wiring.
Not a big problem, but when the time comes to add circuits you will need a metric converter kit. Just ask at any electrical supply, they will also be able to sell you the metric wire nuts you will need too. Although they may need a few days to special order them
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lol...
Seriously, any advice about what to look for in the panel is appreciated.
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Seriously ! There is nothing in a panel that can leak oil. Wipe if off with a rag, and forget about it.
AMUN
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wrote:

OK, you want a serious answer, so here goes.
Around noon on December 31, the former owner of your house was practice drinking for new years eve. After a few 12 packs of beer and ten or twelve mixed drinks, he decided to masturbate because his wife was visiting her mother and his girlfriend was out with his brother. (just like on the soaps). He grabbed a fistful of vaseline and lubricated his shaft. He started choaking his chicken when suddenly his furnace kicked in the same time he was using his toaster to warm the vaseline jar. A breaker blew from the overload. He quickly ran to the breaker box, his hands coated with vaseline and semen. He flipped a few breakers and went back to his visit with the chicken. Ever since those breakers have been coated with vaseline and another substance, which you just got all over your hands.......
Now that's serious...... SERIOUSLY DISGUSTING !!!!
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they >start to squeal and you're stuck with having to replace all the wires. Sorry to be the >bearer of bad news.

Yeah, if this is supposed to be a lighting circuit, you're totally screwed. Lucas wires are only intended for use in darkness circuits.
Of course, that may be the root of the problem -- the oil may be ectoplasm leaking out of a darkness circuit. A whole-house exorcism may be in order.
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