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.
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
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.
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
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)
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.
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
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?
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
Do you shut off the main breaker when you change a branch breaker? Then why
are you concerned about the main breaker?
This is a guy who doesn't have a clue what "available fault current"
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
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.)
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