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Old 12-29-2012, 11:29 AM   #1
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Breaker box spark


I was called to a community hall last night because there was a concern about some lights not working. Apparently, prior to my visit, someone tried to turn on some ligthts by the stage area (that control only four lights) and they didn't work. They then tried a breaker but it sparked. I saw what they were talking about and would like some advice. The breakers are on a sub panel and consist of two rows with eight breakers per row. The spark came from the second breaker on the left row and sparked between the two rows. Could it be a faulty bus or breaker? Best suggestions are welcome.
Thanks. Mark

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Old 12-29-2012, 11:41 AM   #2
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Could be one of a couple of things.

Bad breaker.
Bad connection of breaker to bus bar.
Bad connection of wire to breaker.

I would suggest an inspection by an electrician since this is not your home and is a public facility.

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Old 12-29-2012, 12:03 PM   #3
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Thanks Joed, Makes sense ... about who should do the work, ... I am just curious about the potential cause and how to correct it. Regards.
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Old 12-29-2012, 02:32 PM   #4
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Breaker box spark


If you are not licensed and insured to do electrical work you should call an electrician to check it out. I think canada has licensing requirements.
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Old 12-29-2012, 04:30 PM   #5
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everybody's right. call a licensed electrician. public assembly is a whole different ball game. would you trust your kids or any members of your family to assemble at a place that had a known electrical problem worked on by someone who "thought" they knew what they were doing?
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Old 12-29-2012, 06:47 PM   #6
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Originally Posted by joed View Post
Could be one of a couple of things.

Bad breaker.
Bad connection of breaker to bus bar.
Bad connection of wire to breaker.

I would suggest an inspection by an electrician since this is not your home and is a public facility.
It's also possible that the circuit is shorted and the arc was the breaker contacts opening a high current fault.

I agree with the others, an actual electrician would be the best choice here.

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Old 12-29-2012, 08:53 PM   #7
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When did the breaker spark? (For example when someone behind the stage flipped a light on)

How long did the spark last? (For example more than 2 seconds)

Now you could snap a breaker out of the panel. (Usually the end away from the screw terminal tilts out) Check the underside of the breaker for corrosion or discoloration, also check the fin underneath where the breaker fits on.
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Old 12-29-2012, 09:59 PM   #8
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Thanks Joed, Makes sense ... about who should do the work, ... I am just curious about the potential cause and how to correct it. Regards.
Too soon to tell. It could be a faulty buss bar, a faulty breaker or even a wire not seen by the installer. Since you shouldn't do it, perhaps whoever will would allow you to observe, with permission and at a safe distance.
The main will have to be shut off before this investigation should begin.
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Old 12-30-2012, 12:54 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mark Harvey View Post
I was called to a community hall last night because there was a concern about some lights not working. Apparently, prior to my visit, someone tried to turn on some ligthts by the stage area (that control only four lights) and they didn't work. They then tried a breaker but it sparked. I saw what they were talking about and would like some advice. The breakers are on a sub panel and consist of two rows with eight breakers per row. The spark came from the second breaker on the left row and sparked between the two rows. Could it be a faulty bus or breaker? Best suggestions are welcome.
Thanks. Mark
could be many things !
Faulty beakers, loose connecttions ,
Check all these things first !
But it could also just be the nature of the load !
If you turn on a switch that has many floro lights on it then it will spark,
not because somethings wrong !
but because the load is highly reactive.

What load is on the circuit ?

Discharge lights (mercury vapour, sodium vapour, metal halide) also are highly reactive.

A good quality breaker / switch will help.
but even then small sparking can still occur.
This is normal for some loads.

Last edited by dmxtothemax; 12-30-2012 at 01:01 AM.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:00 AM   #10
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From the description, it sounds like there is a direct short somewhere on that circuit and the breaker was doing its job.
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Old 12-30-2012, 08:06 AM   #11
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Old 12-30-2012, 11:48 AM   #12
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Thanks to all. I have contacted a local electrician. He has worked on this building before and is familliar with the service panel and sub panel. One thing he mentioned is that the "old" breakers and panel are Federal, where he now uses Seimans. Apparently the Federal (no longer in production) had two tongs on the breaker that were bowed in order to allow the breaker to snap in place but the tongs would wear down or weaken with age and not provide the proper connection. New to me, but makes sense. Not being an electricial myself any logical explanation is appreciated. I enjoy the knowledge. Thanks to all.
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