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Old 10-06-2018, 01:34 PM   #1
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Default 100A Resi Main Breaker Tripping

A new customer called and said they're main breaker for their house keeps tripping. Like twice a month for the last 10 years. I get them to turn on the oven, A/C and dryer and microwave. I got 13A on the oven, 10A on the AC, 23A on the Dryer and 12A on the microwave. I took a thermal reading and the main 100A was 30 Degrees celsius. The main then tripped and wouldn't reset right away. After 3-4 minutes it reset. I'm wondering, if the 100A breaker has been tripping for years, could that degrade it to the point where it could trip at a lower amperage? I'm also thinking there could be a loose screw on the main which could create arcing and heat up the breaker.

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Old 10-06-2018, 01:44 PM   #2
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Yes breakers tripping degrade their quality.

If it is tripping under low load then yes, you need a new breaker. If there was something loose you would have seen the heat on your thermal reading.
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Old 10-06-2018, 01:45 PM   #3
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Like twice a month for the last 10 years.
That's hard to believe. When exactly? Only only on weekends? Only at night? Winter or summer? By now something should have stopped working or burned up.
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Old 10-06-2018, 01:48 PM   #4
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A breaker tripping 240 times is a prime candidate for replacement. I would suggest offering a service upgrade to 200A.
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Old 10-06-2018, 01:51 PM   #5
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Agree with Hack. If they don’t go for the upgrade to 200 amp at least Replace the whole panel. If you replace just the breaker and it keeps happening you have to go back and replace the panel anyway. Should be an easy sell considering they loose power so often
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Old 10-06-2018, 02:17 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aegis View Post
A new customer called and said they're main breaker for their house keeps tripping. Like twice a month for the last 10 years. I get them to turn on the oven, A/C and dryer and microwave. I got 13A on the oven, 10A on the AC, 23A on the Dryer and 12A on the microwave. I took a thermal reading and the main 100A was 30 Degrees celsius. The main then tripped and wouldn't reset right away. After 3-4 minutes it reset. I'm wondering, if the 100A breaker has been tripping for years, could that degrade it to the point where it could trip at a lower amperage? I'm also thinking there could be a loose screw on the main which could create arcing and heat up the breaker.

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If you google how a breaker works you will have a better understanding on why it takes a while to reset and why after multiply trips it starts to trip earlier than designed.
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Old 10-06-2018, 03:43 PM   #7
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I agree with the others that it's time for a panel upgrade and not just a new breaker.
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Old 10-06-2018, 03:55 PM   #8
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Every time I had a main breaker tripping I had to replace it. Certainly check the load but my bet is the bus bar or the breaker
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Old 10-06-2018, 04:00 PM   #9
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That's hard to believe. When exactly? Only only on weekends? Only at night? Winter or summer? By now something should have stopped working or burned up.
Only in the summer, day time and it happens randomly when the AC/Oven or dryer are all going. It could be possible that one of the phases at 120v is over loaded added on top of the 240v stuff. The breakers are 40 years old.

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Old 10-06-2018, 04:03 PM   #10
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You had a faulty bus bar? Or just the terminations to it?
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Every time I had a main breaker tripping I had to replace it. Certainly check the load but my bet is the bus bar or the breaker
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Old 10-06-2018, 04:03 PM   #11
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Only in the summer, day time and it happens randomly when the AC/Oven or dryer are all going. It could be possible that one of the phases at 120v is over loaded added on top of the 240v stuff. The breakers are 40 years old.

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I agree with the other posters for a service upgrade.
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Old 10-06-2018, 04:08 PM   #12
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I'd replace the breaker right off the bat. Inspect the panel and see if there's any reason to believe it's not in order. I'd double check the load and see if there's really any reason to believe it's overloaded. If there's no reason to believe there's something wrong with the panel or it's overloaded, I don't see recommending an upgrade. If you want to really be on the ball leaving something there to monitor the load would be the right thing to do.
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Old 10-06-2018, 04:10 PM   #13
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I'd replace the breaker right off the bat. Inspect the panel and see if there's any reason to believe it's not in order. I'd double check the load and see if there's really any reason to believe it's overloaded. If there's no reason to believe there's something wrong with the panel or it's overloaded, I don't see recommending an upgrade. If you want to really be on the ball leaving something there to monitor the load would be the right thing to do.
I said let's go with the cheaper option, if we have to at a later date we can change the whole panel. I've never left anything to monitor the load after I leave, what do you recommend for that?

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Old 10-06-2018, 04:18 PM   #14
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Splatz just likes playing with his toys. Change out the 40 year old panel and be done with it. Offer a service upgrade.
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Old 10-06-2018, 04:30 PM   #15
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What brand is the panel? What kind of shape is it in?
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Old 10-06-2018, 04:48 PM   #16
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What brand is the panel? What kind of shape is it in?
Commander, looks like a regular old panel. White breakers.

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Old 10-06-2018, 04:57 PM   #17
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I said let's go with the cheaper option, if we have to at a later date we can change the whole panel. I've never left anything to monitor the load after I leave, what do you recommend for that?
I have not used these, and I don't know if this is available in Canada, but @HackWork recommended this brand and they are a better buy than anything I have used...

http://www.theenergydetective.com/homemtuct200.html
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Old 10-06-2018, 05:07 PM   #18
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It probably is a bad breaker. Check it and the busbars of that panel. Replace the main breaker and collect the money. It probably won't trip again. If it does then swap the panel and upgrade the service/ feeder as necessary. But , what I do is tell them I am replacing the main, it probably will be fine now, but if it still trips then you have a larger problem and the panel will need replacement, along with an upgrade.



All these years later and I still don't try to sell people something they don't need , except for surge protection. Surge protection is my ice cream dessert. I feel it is mandated by my drive over and general overhead and willingness to show up.
So I sell just about everybody a whole house surge protection device. They really really really really really need those. They do. They need them. $500.
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Old 10-06-2018, 05:13 PM   #19
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Splatz just likes playing with his toys. Change out the 40 year old panel and be done with it. Offer a service upgrade.
It's true I DO like testing, monitoring, logging, analyzing, etc. But more than anything, I like really figuring out what's going on. The thing that nags at me here is, what if there's actually some overload occurring occasionally, and why?

My approach:
Replace the bad main now.
Montior now to see if they are really getting overloaded, and know actual utilization.
If it's a 40 year old panel, consider panel replacement or other service (old breakers).
Offer service upgrade if you can justify it based on future plans and current utilization.
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Last edited by splatz; 10-06-2018 at 05:32 PM.
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Old 10-06-2018, 05:15 PM   #20
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Mikey, walk thru any customer’s house and you will find a couple hundred things that they don’t need, yet they purchased. The manufacturer and retailers of those products were happy to sell them.

Why don’t they need a safe, modern electrical panel? Why is a 40 year old panel that is malfunctioning not considered something reasonable to replace?

Why do we try to be “better” than all the millions of other businesses that sell products and services that people don’t “need”, but still purchase?

I ask this as a genuine question because I see myself doing it all the time. I will sell myself out of work using the same line of thinking that the customer really doesn’t need something. Yet as I’m walking out the door I see a dozen items totaling hundreds or thousands of dollars that the customer didn’t need, but bought anyway. Those companies were happy to sell it and make the profit, shouldn’t we be as well?
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