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aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1

bad breaker?

Click for full size
I wanted to take a shower tonight, but had to cancel it.

After some investigation, I found the water heater's breaker in the ON position, but no electricity was going to the water heater. I tried to turn the the breaker OFF and then back ON when noticed that something is not right.

The WH breaker supposed to be OFF in the picture, but one of the leg doesn't reach the proper off position. (and appear to prevent the other going there)
--
Palin 2012!


49528867
Premium
join:2010-04-16
Fort Lauderdale, FL
kudos:3

said by aurgathor:

The WH breaker supposed to be OFF in the picture, but one of the leg doesn't reach the proper off position. (and appear to prevent the other going there)

Just for the heck of it turn off the breakers utilizing the outer strap and see if that provides you enough room to reset the inner set.

Wayne
--
If ballot don't work, bullets will.
Joyce Kaufman July 3, 2010


jack b
Gone Fishing
Premium,MVM
join:2000-09-08
Cape Cod
kudos:1
reply to aurgathor

When handle-tied breakers trip open on one leg it will look like that.
Move both handles to the fully off position then back on after you investigate WHY it tripped.
If it won't reset (A) the fault is still present (likely) or (B ) the breaker is bad.
--
~Help Find a Cure for Cancer~
~Proud Member of Team Discovery ~



whizkid3
Premium,MVM
join:2002-02-21
Queens, NY
kudos:9

said by jack b:

When handle-tied breakers trip open on one leg it will look like that.

The reason for the handle-tie, is so that both legs trip open. The handle-tie looks as if it is not functioning properly. Try turning both off, and then back on together. (That may not solve the problem that the handle tie is not operating properly. If not, the breaker should be replaced.)


tp0d
yabbazooie
Premium
join:2001-02-13
Carnegie, PA
kudos:5

Sure, you may have a breaker problem...

But breakers just dont trip on their own. I would go over your water heater with an ohm meter first, as it looks like you have an element going to ground. Might be as simple as an arcing wire.

Never seen ties like that, must be a mobile home thing

-j
--
if it aint broke, tweak it!!
currently on FiOS (kick aZZ!)



cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7
reply to aurgathor

I've seen many breakers where they were tied to the next one down, but I've never seen one where they skipped two breakers like in the picture. Presuming that each position alternate legs, anyone know if s there a reason why they tied 1-4 and 2-3 instead of just 1-2 and 3-4? To me it seems like there would be more issues like this not to mention having to stock an additional part (the taller/wider handle tie).



whizkid3
Premium,MVM
join:2002-02-21
Queens, NY
kudos:9

They are common. The reason for that configuration, is so that you can fit 2 two-pole breakers in the space where normally only 1 two-pole breaker can fit. They are staggered that way so that each of the two-pole breakers, actually connects to both legs in the breaker panel.

If one tied 1-2 and 3-4, you would have four 120V breakers, rather than two 240V breakers. And the 240V equipment / appliances connected to them would not work because both of the hot wires in the circuit would be on the same pole.



cdru
Go Colts
Premium,MVM
join:2003-05-14
Fort Wayne, IN
kudos:7

That makes sense. I just presumed that each slot was a regular full sized breaker based on the size of the stickers to the right.



SpottedCat

join:2004-06-27
Miami, FL
reply to aurgathor

Wow, that is an oddball breaker arrangement!

I can't help wondering why it's necessary. In a typical single phase panel, as you go down, you alternate legs like this:

L
R
L
R
L
R

So to have two 240V circuits, you'd just have two tied breakers in the first L/R position, and another two tied breakers in the second. 120V circuits can go anywhere since they only need one leg and neutral.

I wonder if this is an old/unusual panel. Either way it looks like something is broken so you may want to consider replacing the breakers, for safety reasons if anything else.


guppy_fish
Premium
join:2003-12-09
Lakeland, FL
kudos:1
Reviews:
·Verizon FiOS
reply to aurgathor

I've seen this, forget the manufactures name, but a my brothers son-in law bought a home, a real house with these odd-ball ganged breakers.

I believe they do it this way as the "main" breaker is similarly ganged, if I recall correctly, the main was a 4 wide gang, not a single lever like the Squared D does, so the busing is odd ball and hence why the inter pair is use for 240V



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1
reply to aurgathor

The position of the outer strap makes no difference -- one of the leg simply won't pass the halfway point

The cold heating element measures about 12 ohm, and I don't see any fault to ground in the heater.
--
Palin 2012!



nunya
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
·Charter
·voip.ms
·surpasshosting
reply to aurgathor

It's not an oddball arrangement. Quads are quite common. It looks as if the OP's breaker is not ICT (internal common trip). On many quads, the inner two poles are ICT, while the outers are not. I suspect there may still be a fault on the line and the breaker is refusing to reset.
I'm sure the OP knows this, but you have to turn those breakers off completely and then back on to reset. You'd be surprised how many calls I get b/c people do not know how to reset the breaker.

If the breaker is bad (rare, but will happen), you can find a replacement at an electrical supplier. Lowe's Depot won't have them.
--
I just might be the most "licensed" S.O.B. you know.



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1

I just tried again (to be really certain) and the presumably faulty breaker will not stay in the OFF position, even if I force it there.

I also did some more measurements, and one leg of the 240V circuit has proper AC on when the breaker is ON, the other measures 0V.

So I guess I need to find a breaker now; or how bad if I just add an additional 30A breaker for the WH? (I have space for it)
--
Palin 2012!



John Galt
Forward, March
Premium
join:2004-09-30
Happy Camp
kudos:6

2 edits

said by aurgathor:

I just tried again (to be really certain) and the presumably faulty breaker will not stay in the OFF position, even if I force it there.

I also did some more measurements, and one leg of the 240V circuit has proper AC on when the breaker is ON, the other measures 0V.

So I guess I need to find a breaker now; or how bad if I just add an additional 30A breaker for the WH? (I have space for it)

I am presuming here that you have the skills to do this...in any case, always treat conductors as if they are live, even if you "know" they are not.

Your life depends on it...

1. Turn OFF the breaker...both poles.

2. Carefully remove both conductors from the breaker. Put wire nuts or tape on the end and carefully bend away from the panel. You don't want them springing back into the panel.

3. Attempt to reset the breaker again...full OFF then ON. See if there is voltage present on both poles of the breaker. Check between ground and the breaker pole. You should see 120 or so volts.

Then, having done that...

4. Confirm that there is NO VOLTAGE on either of the conductors, first measuring between the two conductors, and then from each conductor to ground. This is to insure that there is no funky wiring/splicing in the field that presents a backfeed.

5. If NO VOLTAGE is present, use the ohms position on your meter to measure between each conductor and ground. You should see an open circuit (meaning infinite ohms) on each.

6. Measure between the two conductors. You should see "a resistance"...the value will depend on the wattage of the WH elements and the resolution and accuracy of your meter. Expect to see a "low" value.

As to your other question, you could get another breaker since you have the space and use that. Abandon the old breaker in place and make a note on the panel cover about the problem and date it.
--
Panem et Circenses


Zach1
Premium
join:2006-11-26
NW Minnesota

3 edits
reply to aurgathor

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aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1
reply to aurgathor

Is the outer strap something I can remove and reinstall without breaking it? Lowes actually had one (1) breaker like this but without the outer strap.

If I were to replace the whole thing not just adding a 2 pole 30A breaker, how difficult is to take these things apart? Looks to me I just need to drill out a few rivets, but they may also be glued/welded. I'm just curious how it failed.
--
Palin 2012!


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

If you want to take it apart and see how it failed you will need to get two 30A double pole breakers and swap over both circuits to new breakers. I wouldn't try popping out the center two and leaving the outside two with the handle-tie. It may work but it may also not come apart cleanly and chances are it's generally not a good idea.

If Lowes had one like it but without the outer strap I'd venture to guess the outside breakers are intended to be used as individual single pole 120V circuits - in other words, not what you need. Replacing this entirely with two new standard double pole breakers may be the best course of action. It makes getting a replacement easier (an electrical supply house probably has plenty of those but as you've seen Lowes and the like might not) and even if you thoroughly mark and document the problem with the internal set of breakers someone later down the road might try and use it anyway with unknown results.


TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:2
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel
reply to aurgathor

Are those 4 individual single-pole breakers? Or are they pairs stuck together?

If they are individual breakers, it looks like simultaneously removing the top and bottom breakers will then allow the handle-tie to simply slide out of each of the handles.



whizkid3
Premium,MVM
join:2002-02-21
Queens, NY
kudos:9

Its one assembly and its built that way. Buy the right part. If Lowes or HD does not have it, what is wrong with going to an electrical supply house or ordering it online?



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1

Well, today I went to a supply house (Stoneway) but it turned out they don't carry Siemens breakers.

So I figured hell with it, since I'll be driving by HD, just add a regular 30A double breaker. But apparently, most of the wires were cut and formed exactly for a given position, and without extending the wires, I couldn't connect them to an additional 30A breaker.

So I will have to get the right breaker no matter what, and until that happens, I just swapped the dryer and the WH wires since the latter is a bit more important.
--
Palin 2012!


TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:2
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

said by aurgathor:

But apparently, most of the wires were cut and formed exactly for a given position

I hate it when people do that.


nunya
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join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
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Slack is for sissies. A small dip is OK, but anything else just makes for a messy panel. If the wires are too short, just nut them up.

I can't believe the supply house didn't have Murray or Siemens. At this rate, you may as well order online.
--
I just might be the most "licensed" S.O.B. you know.


TheMG
Premium
join:2007-09-04
Canada
kudos:2
Reviews:
·NorthWest Tel

Well, yeah, there is such a thing as too much slack.

My rule of thumb is just enough slack to allow the wire to be re-stripped twice, or to allow it to be moved two breaker positions or terminals down from its current position. It's not messy, and allows a little bit of reconfiguration if necessary, without having to resort to wire nuts or splices.



aurgathor

join:2002-12-01
Lynnwood, WA
kudos:1

I even have to work on one of the wire to move it from the inner connection to the outer one....

As for Murray, no, I didn't ask for that one. I simply don't know what other current breakers are compatible with my panel.
--
Palin 2012!


nonymous
Premium
join:2003-09-08
Glendale, AZ
reply to TheMG

said by TheMG:

Well, yeah, there is such a thing as too much slack.

My rule of thumb is just enough slack to allow the wire to be re-stripped twice, or to allow it to be moved two breaker positions or terminals down from its current position. It's not messy, and allows a little bit of reconfiguration if necessary, without having to resort to wire nuts or splices.

I agree. There is messy. But there is the other way so neat and perfect that the person behind you has to work harder.


49528867
Premium
join:2010-04-16
Fort Lauderdale, FL
kudos:3

1 edit
reply to nunya

said by nunya:

If the wires are too short, just nut them up.

You have to be kidding.

Wayne
--
If ballot don't work, bullets will.
Joyce Kaufman July 3, 2010


nunya
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
Reviews:
·Charter
·voip.ms
·surpasshosting

No I'm not kidding. Nothing wrong with it. A couple of wire nuts in a panel is far better than stretching wire or adding adding j-boxes in a circuit just to make a breaker.
--
I just might be the most "licensed" S.O.B. you know.



nunya
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12
reply to 49528867

And if you need clarification, you can read 312.8 to the end. I can splice every conductor in a 42 space panel 5 times and still make 75% with ease (thanks to Ma Bell).
--
I just might be the most "licensed" S.O.B. you know.



49528867
Premium
join:2010-04-16
Fort Lauderdale, FL
kudos:3

said by nunya:

And if you need clarification, you can read 312.8 to the end. I can splice every conductor in a 42 space panel 5 times and still make 75% with ease (thanks to Ma Bell).

I don't need to read it I just think doing so is ugly, trailerparkish handyman like so to speak.

Wayne
--
If ballot don't work, bullets will.
Joyce Kaufman July 3, 2010


nunya
Premium,MVM
join:2000-12-23
O Fallon, MO
kudos:12

1 recommendation

I find adding a bunch of j-boxes or destroying building finish to gain a few inches of wire very unprofessional.
--
I just might be the most "licensed" S.O.B. you know.