Tonight I had a breaker trip that fed a recepticle circuit in the home. It was the first time this had happened so I did a close search of the panel. The dryer was running (different circuit) and you could hear arcing in panel. It was not loud or anything, but it was there, and it went away when the dryer circuit was turned off. I pulled the dryer breaker out to look at the connection to the bus and it was good. But the breaker was warm (considerably more than ambient) and there was a oil like substance on the breaker along the case joint. What makes a breaker go bad like this? The breaker is a square D and the home is 13 years old. The wires running to the breaker were not hot and connections were tight. The dryer cable is aluminum. I assume that when I replace the breaker, all I need to do is clean the wire, recoat with whatever lowes sells for alum cables, and put back together. Thanks for any assistance you can give me. We had a friend at work lose their home to an electrical fire that started with a tripped breaker... so I want to be sure.
yeah I would say the breaker has worn out, change it. I have had the same problem here with the circuit breaker for my shed (feeds 15 amp circuit for compressor/welder), keeping in mind I live in Australia, where we have seperate lighting and powerpoint (outlet) circuits, and have 10A circuits for power needs up to 2400w (all household appliances except larger window A/C, large compressors, welders etc)and our 15A circuit is the equivilant to your 120V 20amp circuits. Its a 20A breaker and it developed a buzzing early this year, all connections were good, was just worn out.
Found it when i tripped the RCD on that circuit, or as we commonly call it, a safety switch, which is the equivilant of a GFCI, still waiting for the AFCI equivilant to come to Australia.
But, we in Australia are not allowed to perform ANY electrical work to fixed household wiring, except re-wire plugs or change lightbulbs and rewire fuses etc. doesnt stop us though, If we wanna change a single powerpoint to a double or even a quad, I dont think most of us are going to call an electrician.
I was hearing an arcing sound, actually a sizzling sound in my breaker panel a while back also. The breakers and panel looked really bad. We just bought the house about a year ago, but it is 30 years old.
I replaced all the breakers in the panel, but was still a little leary of the bus bar. It had some white corrosion on it. I cleaned it best I could. It looked like someone had sprayed water on the panel at some point, somehow.
Anyway, my problems went away for awhile, then I started having trouble with a few circuits again. Went back to the panel, and the sizzling sound was back.
The only thing I could figure out was that it was the breaker panel itself. The busbars looked totally crappy. I replaced the panel a few weeks ago, and have had no problems since.
Since you have an evidently faulted breaker, this probably doesn't apply to you, but I thought I'd share anway.
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