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burgeke 11-02-2006 09:15 AM

Arced main lug in service panel
Hello! Yesterday I had the pleasure (uh, not!) of seeing what happens when a ground lead touches one of the main lugs coming into the service panel. I was running a new circuit, which I have done before, and the wires slipped from my hand. The ground (and common actually) arced across one of the main feeds (I had the main breaker off but of course the two wires from the outside are still live). The ground quickly burnt in half stopping the arc.

I chopped the burnt wires from the new circuit I was running and pulled some more.... all looks (and works) ok now. Except.... the lug bolt securing the main to the main breaker in the panel appears burnt on the surface. You can see a burnt indentation from where the ground lead laid on it. Other than appearance, it is tight and no signs of arcing or other damage are present. The two main leads appear fine as well with no signs of burn/arc.

Do you think this is ok? Anything else I should be concerned with?

Double A 11-02-2006 10:33 AM

Why are you working in a hot box without protection and training?

Working around unbreakered mains is just dumb if you don't have the proper training and equipment. Stop goofing and call an electrician before we have to post a condolences message about you.

Just imaging if that ground wire was your wedding band or wrist watch.

burgeke 11-02-2006 10:39 AM

Thanks for the advice and concern. I understand the danger here. However, replacing breakers and running new circuits normally doesn't require pulling the meter does it? this was an unfortunate accident and i agree that it could have been worse.

That said, could someone shed some advice on my question? I just want to know if I should be concerned with the minor arcing/damage to the main lug bolt.


Rze 11-02-2006 11:00 AM

Many times the trade folk will admonish your for attempting to do the work yourself. I am in your position. I understand the perils, know what I am doing and have the equipment and experience. However, accidents DO happen. I agree that it could have been worse, and we are glad that it wasn't. I have never heard of having to pull the meter to add a breaker. While in a perfect world, this would be the perfect solution, it is not feasible. There should be no problem with the scar that was created. You're not messing with the mains or the lugs. This howver is based on my experience and converstions with licensed electricians. Let's see how some of the trade folk respond.

burgeke 11-02-2006 11:28 AM

Thank you so much for the reply!

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