My sister-in-law has an old "Pushmatic" breaker panel in her house, and the
2-pole 30A breaker (P230) that her clothes dryer is on has started tripping
randomly. From what I've read this is a fairly common problem with
Pushmatic breakers. The dryer is fairly new and the wiring appears to be in
Anyway, despite the high cost of the replacement breakers, it's still a
faster and cheaper option than replacing the panel.
Other than pulling the panel cover, I haven't done any work on that panel
yet. There is a metal "bar" than runs over the top of all the breakers
(under the push buttons). When I looked at it last night, I did not see any
obvious method of attachment, but it clearly needs to come out to remove
So, can anyone with Pushmatic breaker experience tell me how that bar over
the breaker is attached and removed?
I'll be killing the main breakers and verifying there is no voltage
on the bus before I start messing around in there... :)
However, the real issue is a metal bar that runs across the TOP of the
breakers. The breakers won't come out with that bar in place, and I didn't
see any screws or anything holding it down. Looks like it might be crimped
on each end or something.
I was just hoping someone knew how that restraining bar is fastened in
place and the best way to remove it.
Pushmatic panels are very dangerous to work in. If you, as an amateur must
do it, then kill the power to the panel first. The breaker is held in place
by screws, one on either side for double pole breakers. The screws are
captive to the breaker and are screwed into the live buss. Once the screws
are turned out, pull the breaker straight out.
The "retaining" bar runs above the breakers, but under the double-pole
buttons. If it's coming out, it will need to slide down out of the way so
the breaker can be lifted out. I only looked at it briefly last night, but
I couldn't see how it was attached.
I work on these only infrequently, and I'm thinking that the double pole
breakers straddle the center bar, but if not, try pushing,or lifting the bar
up from the bottom. Just be sure you kill the power first
Anthony, I can't recall anything on that panel that would prevent the double
poles from being pulled straight out. There is a small metal tab on the
inside of each breaker that fits in a slot on that center piece of metal,
which just keeps the breakers straight, and the one screw per breaker that
is screwed to the buss. If you unscrew the thing, pull on it and see what
happens. It will probably be apparent at that point, what you have to do to
get it out. Again, kill the power
I picked up the new breaker this afternoon, and it makes a bit more sense
to me now. I thought the breaker was one solid piece, trapped under that
center bar. But, it looks like the breaker is kind of U-shaped to slip
"over" the center bar.
I guess I'll see tomorrow when I get back to my sister-in-laws and open the
And yes, I'll make sure the power is off... :)
Some of those old 100 amp Pushmatic panels didn't have a 100 amp breaker to
feed the buss bars. The main buss was fed directly with the incoming line
from the meter, and there was a 40 amp breaker that fed the lower section of
the panel with the 120 volt branch circuits. The upper section was all 240
volt double pole breakers. Take a good look at the feed configuration. You
just might have to open the meter box and pull the meter out to make a panel
I replaced the Pushmatic breaker yesterday. Fairly easy job overall.
I turned off both main breakers, and verified the power was truly off with
my meter. Disconnected to two hot wires, unscrewed the two mounting screws,
and the breaker lifted right out.
The new breaker cost me $42 locally, expensive, but cheaper than replacing
the panel. It was an aftermarket brand, but it slid right in place for a
perfect fit. I tightened down the mounting screws, reattached the hot
wires, and put the panel cover back on.
I ran the dryer for more than an hour without any problems, and my sister-
in-law followed that up with a full load of laundry.
Thanks for everyones help.
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