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Old 01-10-2013, 09:49 PM   #1
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200 amp main throw is arcing


For the past few days we've noticed the lights flickering and pulsing, as I went and stood near the panel I could hear arcing. I removed the cover and pushed in on all the breakers thinking one of them was loose, but no such luck! I could hear the arcing coming from behind the main 200 amp throw and as I pushed around on it I could hear the pitch of the arcing changing. The panel is a General Switch Company 200 amp. It looks like the main can be switched out but is that any good as the buss bars probably have arcing damage now. I haven't removed the main yet to see how bad it is, I thought I had better get a new panel on hand prior to doing so, so I can be prepared to swap out the entire panel. Am I on the right track?? Can the main be changed? Should I just replace the box? Or do I have bigger problems on my hands??

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Old 01-10-2013, 10:16 PM   #2
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200 amp main throw is arcing


First is the main removal, is it welded to panel or a set screw holding it down
Sounds like someone forgot to use no-ox, probably heated up and broke the pressure plate and now u have a loose connection

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Old 01-10-2013, 10:34 PM   #3
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200 amp main throw is arcing


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Originally Posted by Kodyb View Post
For the past few days we've noticed the lights flickering and pulsing, as I went and stood near the panel I could hear arcing. I removed the cover and pushed in on all the breakers thinking one of them was loose, but no such luck! I could hear the arcing coming from behind the main 200 amp throw and as I pushed around on it I could hear the pitch of the arcing changing. The panel is a General Switch Company 200 amp. It looks like the main can be switched out but is that any good as the buss bars probably have arcing damage now. I haven't removed the main yet to see how bad it is, I thought I had better get a new panel on hand prior to doing so, so I can be prepared to swap out the entire panel. Am I on the right track?? Can the main be changed? Should I just replace the box? Or do I have bigger problems on my hands??
Call a licensed electrician and have them inspect your panel before you go digging around in there. This is one area where if you don't know what you're doing you can have some serious consequences.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:43 PM   #4
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200 amp main throw is arcing


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Originally Posted by Kodyb View Post
For the past few days we've noticed the lights flickering and pulsing, as I went and stood near the panel I could hear arcing. I removed the cover and pushed in on all the breakers thinking one of them was loose, but no such luck! I could hear the arcing coming from behind the main 200 amp throw and as I pushed around on it I could hear the pitch of the arcing changing. The panel is a General Switch Company 200 amp. It looks like the main can be switched out but is that any good as the buss bars probably have arcing damage now. I haven't removed the main yet to see how bad it is, I thought I had better get a new panel on hand prior to doing so, so I can be prepared to swap out the entire panel. Am I on the right track?? Can the main be changed? Should I just replace the box? Or do I have bigger problems on my hands??
What would the insurance company want ?
I can guess !
Don't take any chances,
replace the panel and switch.

If money is an issue ?
Turn off all power at meter.
Then pull the panel apart and inspect the damage,
You might be able to fix it !

Hope your confident enough to do so !
Not a job for inexperienced people.
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Old 01-10-2013, 10:58 PM   #5
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200 amp main throw is arcing


I'm pretty savey when it comes to electrical work, I just haven't ran across this issue before. I know to turn the power off at the meter before venturing any further I just don't know if this is a common problem or if my logic was in the right direction. It looks like the main breaker is a snap in just like a small breaker - there aren't any screws or rivets that I can see holding it in. I've never heard of this brand of equipment before but then again I don't do this everyday. I'm fairly confident that once I take the panel apart that the buss is going to have significant damage to it so I want to be preparred to replace the box. Is there any one brand better that the others? While I'm going to the trouble I'm going to replace it with a panel that has a few more slots so I can run a sub to the unfinished basement, will pry go with a 30 slot. FYI: I would have a real electrician come take a look but we live in a pretty remote area and the local electrician doesn't know the difference between his ass and a whole in the ground....
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Old 01-11-2013, 06:18 AM   #6
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200 amp main throw is arcing


Upload a picture of your panel, I have a Cutler-Hammer in my house w/200 amp service...I guess all of them are pretty much on the same level these days.
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Old 01-11-2013, 04:54 PM   #7
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200 amp main throw is arcing


If that is the old GDP style main breaker, they are obsolete. Try Breaker King or Pacific Coast Breakers for reconditioned ones. If in stock, they are about $200.
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Old 01-11-2013, 05:17 PM   #8
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200 amp main throw is arcing


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I know to turn the power off at the meter before venturing any further I just don't know if this is a common problem or if my logic was in the right direction.
You say turn the power off at the meter. Is the panel you are having problems with after the meter with breaker?

If that is the case you could turn everything off and it would be safe to work in there. But if it has been arching and heating up it may fall apart.

Best to be prepared to do a panel replacement when you dig into the main panel.
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Old 01-11-2013, 11:58 PM   #9
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200 amp main throw is arcing


I'm afraid that once you get it all apart, you'll find that it's not fixable. The arcing has probably done damage to the busbars or the insulators.

Do I understand that you have a shutoff at the meter? If so, then for code purposes, that's your main and your panel is, codewise, a subpanel. You'll have to make sure that neutral and ground are kept separate at the panel.
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:30 PM   #10
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200 amp main throw is arcing


200 amp main throw is arcing-breaker.jpg
Here's a pic of the old 200 amp main, hard to see but there's some damage to the contact points, not to mention the crack in the casing.


200 amp main throw is arcing-box.jpg
Here's a pic of the old box main buss bar; the night before swapping out the panels the entire right side of the panel was faulted out, had to move some circuits (furnace, refrig outlets, etc.) to the other side so things would keep running thru the night...
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Old 01-14-2013, 03:41 PM   #11
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200 amp main throw is arcing


200 amp main throw is arcing-new-close-up.jpg
New GE panel, had to settle for a 20 slot/40 circuit. That's all home depot had and I had to get it swapped the next morning. Decided to install a whole home surge protector while at it.

200 amp main throw is arcing-new-2.jpg
Little wider view of the new panel...
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Old 01-15-2013, 10:34 AM   #12
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200 amp main throw is arcing


You need to fix those doubled up neutrals... only one allowed per hole.
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Old 01-15-2013, 11:18 AM   #13
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200 amp main throw is arcing


refering to the two larger neutrals under the lug or all the littler ones on the bars... or both?
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Old 01-15-2013, 12:44 PM   #14
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200 amp main throw is arcing


Since you have a disconnect outside you need a four wire feed and your neutral and ground need to be separate.
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Old 01-15-2013, 01:22 PM   #15
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200 amp main throw is arcing


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Call a licensed electrician and have them inspect your panel before you go digging around in there. This is one area where if you don't know what you're doing you can have some serious consequences.
Same here. This can get ugly real quick if you aren't 100% sure what you are doing

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