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Old 05-08-2013, 05:21 PM   #16
burnham
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heloflights View Post
Power Co was just here, both 120V phases and neutral checked out fine.

Turns out several of the affected circuits appear to be suffering from low voltage (~80-100) which explains why bulbs are not lighting up. Power co tech was of the opinion that perhaps the main panel breaker may be crapping out/acting flaky, electrician on call for tomorrow....

...never a dull minute....
Snap the main breaker on and then off a few times. Do it with a little vigor. Sometimes that will correct the problem for a short time, and let you know what the problem is. Sometimes the breaker won't stay on after, so be warned. Is it a Federal Pacific brand panel?

If you have the original 1973 electric service it's probably due to be replaced anyway.
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Old 05-08-2013, 05:36 PM   #17
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Did anyone do any work on the system recently?

Replace a switch, light, outlet? If so, possibly a loose connection/broken wire.

The house was built in 1973. Hopefully it doesn't have aluminum wire in the walls. (some jurisdictions still allowed Aluminum wiring back then)
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Old 05-08-2013, 07:58 PM   #18
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Main breaker snap results...

Tried resetting the main panel breaker several times before the power co arrived (some folks mentioned this technique can help restore a dropped phase) and behold the circuit did pop back to life for a few minutes....then keeled over.

No alum wire in the house, nor any recent electrical work performed.

I have a Cutler Hammer main panel, the main breaker is a C-H # CC2150 150A 2 pole 240VAC, looks like it has been there since Jesus was a baby. I am trying to imagine how a breaker would fail in this manner, I figured it would just die, not create weirdness like I am seeing...
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Old 05-08-2013, 08:08 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Heloflights View Post
Tried resetting the main panel breaker several times before the power co arrived (some folks mentioned this technique can help restore a dropped phase) and behold the circuit did pop back to life for a few minutes....then keeled over.

No alum wire in the house, nor any recent electrical work performed.

I have a Cutler Hammer main panel, the main breaker is a C-H # CC2150 150A 2 pole 240VAC, looks like it has been there since Jesus was a baby. I am trying to imagine how a breaker would fail in this manner, I figured it would just die, not create weirdness like I am seeing...
A high resistance connection in the breaker would cause a voltage drop like that. The big danger is resistance = heat, enough heat can overcome the insulation and start an electrical fire in the panel.
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Old 05-08-2013, 08:20 PM   #20
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Failing breaker - High resistance...

...wouldn't the voltage drop due to high resistance be uniform throughout all circuits in the house?
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Old 05-08-2013, 08:38 PM   #21
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...wouldn't the voltage drop due to high resistance be uniform throughout all circuits in the house?
Not if it's just one side that's gone bad.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:04 AM   #22
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Large voltage drop across one leg huh?

Let us know what the bill is, I'm curious.
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:07 AM   #23
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Large voltage drop across one leg huh?

Let us know what the bill is, I'm curious.
If it's just the main breaker it shouldn't be much. The cost of the breaker plus an hour of time. If the electrician spends a bit of time making sure everything else is good then bump it to two hours... couple hundred bucks max?
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Old 05-09-2013, 07:38 AM   #24
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If it's just the main breaker it shouldn't be much. The cost of the breaker plus an hour of time. If the electrician spends a bit of time making sure everything else is good then bump it to two hours... couple hundred bucks max?
The 150 amp main breaker alone, will run about a hundred bucks. Let's hope the blades on the panel aren't burned, which could very well be the problem.
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:02 AM   #25
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The 150 amp main breaker alone, will run about a hundred bucks. Let's hope the blades on the panel aren't burned, which could very well be the problem.

You can have only 150A service? The minimum a new house around here gets is 200...

Good point on the blades... Aren't those buss bars replaceable though?
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:10 AM   #26
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You can have only 150A service? The minimum a new house around here gets is 200...

Good point on the blades... Aren't those buss bars replaceable though?
That might depend on the box manufacturer and parts availability. If the box is as old as the OP implies, those bits may not exist or be easy to find. Also, I've only ever seen 100A and 200A service, 150 seems a bit odd.
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Old 05-09-2013, 08:15 AM   #27
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If you have 120 to neutral or ground at the bus bar of the panel and have strange voltages on a few branch circuits, I can almost guaranty you have a neutral loose somewhere. Probably on a multi wire branch circuit. Start at the first device that's not working that's closest to your panel and look for loose neutral connections. Back stabbed receptacles are usually the cause of this.
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Old 05-09-2013, 09:12 AM   #28
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The 150 amp main breaker alone, will run about a hundred bucks. Let's hope the blades on the panel aren't burned, which could very well be the problem.

I found a replacement antique one at the local recycled building material place for $1.50.

Otherwise it would have been 100+ bucks for the 100 amp breaker.

Alternatively I could have replaced the main separate breaker box for about 85$ with a new breaker and all. Although that would have required calling the power company and having my service disconnected.
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Old 05-09-2013, 09:53 AM   #29
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Update....

I found a new main breaker, $170.

I have two 150A boxes, the 2nd box is dedicated to the AC and furnace.

When I reset the main yesterday and the flaky circuits returned briefly to life all voltages read nominally on the affected outlets and light fixtures.

Electrician is supposed to be here this pm....breaker is on order as well...it won't be here until tomorrow however...
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Old 05-09-2013, 11:03 AM   #30
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150A for HVAC?

How many sq feet?

Hopefully the bus bars aren't burned. Then it's time for a new panel. Might be able to get just the bars. Only problem with the snap in breakers. Bolt down ones I've never seen burned.
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