You are not reading the thread - or responding to it.
My response was to the following - and I quote " If he wants to be
completely safe, pull the meter until you can get an electrician."
Someone said to pull the meter and call an electrician.
I'm not talking about repairing the fault.
Pulling the meter is NOT something a homeowner should do - and it is
NOT necessary to render the bad connection safe. Throwing the main
breaker disconnects all loads from the service- making the bad
connection a non issue and totally safe untill the electrician arrives
and has the utility do the disconnect - either by pulling the fuse on
the pole, or pulling the meter.
You call yourself a "tekkie". I'm not so sure.
firstname.lastname@example.org posted for all of us...
Sorry, I didn't read that. But then again I don't read many of these thread
because they go into another orbit.
If I promise to read your stuff more carefully will you forgive me?
Do you see the part in your reply where you state to pull the meter, then
later state it is not necessary. Flip the breaker. I am sorry if I'm
confused but did I read it correctly? Not trying to be confrontational but
perhaps I mixed replies up...
I thiunk you did, because the only place I wrote "pull the meter" as
an instruction was in quotes - " If he wants to be completely safe,
pull the meter until you can get an electrician." quoting what
another poster had recommended, and saying "Pulling the meter is NOT
something a homeowner should do - and it is NOT necessary to render
the bad connection safe"
On Fri, 16 Oct 2015 17:29:57 -0400, "Texas Kingsnake"
By the way, you may also have a bad breaker causing that hum. Fix the
Mains connection first, then watch and listen to the breaker feeding the
laundry. If it does hum, replace it!
I will mention that when a motor starts, it draws a lot more amperage
than when it's running. That's why you see that spark when it starts.
If you do shut off the power to repair that mains lug, check the other
ones too (neutral included). And apply some Anti-Sieze to the screws so
they are easier to move in the future. (Thats if they turn at all. That
arcing could have welded that problem one in place, which means you have
a bigger problem.
I read all the excellent replies (thanks to all). Here's what I am going to
do. I will put on my long linesman rubber gloves, place a thick rubber mat
on the floor in front of the box and use a large insulated screwdriver to
see if the screw (it's slotted, not hex-keyed) will turn and by how much.
I haven't been able to recreate the arcing since pushing the feed wire
slightly right above the bus clamp. I will, on next trip to the box, look
for discoloration of the wire in the clamp area and burn or sputter marks
near the terminal. I will also try to measure the washing machine's start
up current to see if it's abnormally high (if my clamp meter can register
it - I believe it has a peak lock but am not sure - just got a new HF one to
replace the Wavetek that had a terminal battery leak.)
I appreciate the concern for my life, Philo, and my wife is making sure my
will is in order. I will wear goggles since I know a spasm of some sort
could arc weld my screwdriver to the panel and throw molten metal into my
DPB - I'll try to take a close up picture of the wire where it enters the
clamp but no guarantees. The last time I uploaded pictures no one could see
them. I'll at least try to describe what I see now I know what I am looking
I'm upstairs now, but for some reason I thought the feed wire was tinned
copper but it could easily be I was looking at aluminum wire and didn't
realize it. The upgrade to the panel occurred in 1972 according to the
labels, and IIRC that's when aluminum was still thought to be a good idea in
residential wiring. I think you're right in that just pushing on the wire
changed something because I cannot get the arc to occur DESPITE putting two
space heaters running at 15A on the outlets served by the left side of the
It's really just random chance we were both standing where we were when this
happened - who knows how long it could have continued. I tried to assure my
wife the reason that the circuits are in the metal box was to prevent an
arcing connection from throwing sparks into the room. She's with Philo and
thinks resetting the clocks and VCRs is worth the safety edge of working on
a de-energized circuit. My opinon is "meh, you got to go sometime and
getting eletrocuted is probably better than some ways of dying!!!"
I have a neighbor who is an electrician so I am going to consult with him
tomorrow about what to do. If it's discolored and corroded at the entry to
the clamp, I will consider replacing the entire feed wire from the meter to
the panel since I think that's a relative small piece of what looks to be #6
wire - can't read the markings but am on my way downstairs with a camera
with a macro lens. If all the feed wires are AL, I will consider replacing
all three wires from the panel to the meter with new copper. If it happened
on one wire, it's possible it could happen on the others.
And email@example.com, if the screw won't turn, I won't be spraying it with
anything flammable while it's live. I feel comfortable trying to tighten
the screw and take photos while it's live, but if it requires closer
inspection, of course I will kill the power to the panel.
Thanks again for all the thoughtful replies. It might be a few days before
you hear back from me if the worst comes to pass - well, if the very worst
comes to pass (I die) you won't hear from me so I will try my best to let
you know if I survive.
The worst shocks I've ever gotten were not from replacing breakers in a live
panel but where I least expected it. I was changing a light bulb in a
flooded basement when it popped in my hand and I was suddenly touching the
naked filament wire. Or when I was working on a space heater that had
stopped heating and thought I had unplugged it from the outlet but I had
actually unplugged my DC variable power supply that was plugged in next to
Problem with that is that this is not a binary group. You have to
upload the photo to a cloud source (Dropbox.com is free and easy to use)
and then post a link (again easy with Dropbox) in your posting here. We
just click on the link and ...
While in the panel, please consider tighten the
other power feed wire. And the neutral. And then
go down the row of breakers, and snug down all
the black wires. I've also had neutrals and grounds
come loose, so perhaps those need snug down also.
Looking forward to a follow up report, please.
Christopher A. Young
learn more about Jesus
On Sat, 17 Oct 2015 10:04:55 -0400, Stormin Mormon
Also, what brand is the panel? Check the buss bars for damage where
the breakers connect. If it is an FPE or other cheap-assed panel,
consider replacing it particularly if there is ANY sign of heat or
arcing on the buss.
I just replaced my complete (fused) panel and meter base with a new QO
32 /64 panel with whole house surge protector for $2400 canadian
including taxes and inspection. Could have done it for $400 less using
a homeline or Cuttler Hammer BR panel and no surge protector.
I considered the upgrade to the copper buss QO worth the extra money
First off, as mentioned ,the power company will disconnect your power
free, so I'd do that. Since what you are doing will only take a minute,
I'm sure they will stick around and reconnect .
That said I already know you are just going to go ahead and do it...so
good luck to you.
In addition the the shock hazard, it the possibility of shorting
something out if your Allen wrench slips. (Hope you saw my photo)
Finally, if things do look at all burned...even a slight tarnish, the
money you spend to have a qualified electrician fix it will be a
pittance compared to your house burning down.
On Sat, 17 Oct 2015 00:59:18 -0400, "Texas Kingsnake"
It's not just sprying it when it's live that can be an issue.
Penetrating oil is flammable, so if you use it to free up a galled
fastener, you need to remove it completely before re-energizing the
circuit so it doesn't ignite if it sparks again. Use a "safe" brake
cleaner to degrease it. This means "non chlorinated" solvents ONLY.
CRC Braakleen Non Chlorinated brake cleaner is one example - but NEVER
use it on energized equipment, and allow fumes to disburse before
re-energizing or exposing to spark.
The worst I ever got was from an old television power transformer I
used as a hobby power supply as a young teanager. This was from an old
pre-flyback set and had a 30kv high voltage winding at one end -
opposite the 1.3? 5, 6, and 12 volt filament windings I usually played
with. The basement was only about 5 feet high. I touched that 30kv wre
and straightened up, hitting my head on the floorboards above me
(between the floor joists)- finding the sharp end of a nail holding
the underlay to the subfloor, and driving the head up through the
linoleum on the livingroom floor above me. Now THAT HURT!!!!!!
Almost as bad was forgetting to turn off the "tamper alarm" on my 1963
valliant before opening the hood. 115hz auto radio multivibrator
feeding a bosch ignition coil connected to a strip of window break
detector foil over a mylar insulation strip on the leading edge of the
hood - controlled by a jam switch on the hood.
That sucker would really charge your batteries if you opened the hood
without turning it off first!!!!
On Fri, 16 Oct 2015 17:29:57 -0400, "Texas Kingsnake"
I'm not telling you whether to do this or not, but if you decide to do
it, well-insulated screwdriver means wrapping electric tape or maybe
silicon tape over the whole shaft and blade, overlapping so there's
more than one layer, so when the screwdriver slips, only the very tip
will likely connect electrically.
Also helps to prevent the reflexive action of guiding the tip of the
screwdriver to the target screw with your (foolishly) ungloved left hand.
Short status report and then back to longer replies to everyone when this is
over. Gotta prep the area for the wire-ectomy and move some loads to other
circuits not on the sparking side.
Left hot wire is heat damaged and that damage may extend into the 100A
breaker (dual? tie-handled? - not sure of the right terms) but it's the
breaker that takes the street feed on both sides. The frikkin' wire seems
to be aluminum.
The left feed's bare metal is dark and discolored and could be either. The
neutral wire is un-insulated and very loosely braided and silver colored,
which leads me to believe I've got an aluminum feed from the meter. Crap.
The right hot* from the pole is thick, rubbery plastic obviously cut back
with a pen knife or someone's teeth and there I can see silvery wire that
appears to be covered with some amber colored gel (the reflection made it
look copper-y until I stood on the ladder and got a closer look). Have
switched off most of the breakers to that side of the panel.
Electrician should drop by later today - family friend so I can't push. He
said with the cover back on, it should NOT be a fire hazard because the
arking would be contained and the worst that *should* happen is that we lose
power on the outlets and devices connected to that side of the panel. I
asked again about the fire hazard because of the number of people that
talked about it. He said what I do depends on my level of paranoia.
I think I can handle this sort of repair - there's enough of a loop in the
wire in question to cut back at least an inch and maybe more. Not sure I
want to do that. Would rather have copper feed wires but probably could
live with a cut back/repair if it lasts 10 years. This may trigger the need
to go to a new panel and a rewire of the whole house. It's got old,
cloth-covered wire that's really aged.
More to follow and hopefully photos as well . . .
*Is there a better way to describe the two different hots from the pole?
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