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Old 11-17-2012, 01:51 AM   #1
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Breaker panel with no main switch


Hello forum members,
Hope someone can answer my question:
I live in a condo (converted apt bldg) and need to replace a breaker in my breaker panel. I am unable to find a main breaker in the panel. If I switch off all the breakers will it then be safe to replace the faulty breaker with a new one - ie, without electrocuting myself?
Thank you.
Brenda

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Old 11-17-2012, 03:48 AM   #2
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Breaker panel with no main switch


Check for a disconnect at your meter.

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Old 11-17-2012, 07:30 AM   #3
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Breaker panel with no main switch


What sgip2000 said. But to answer your question, switching off all the breakers will NOT make it any safer - much of the panel will still be hot. I have occasionally over the years replaced a breaker in a hot panel, but I don't really recommend it. Especially for someone unfamiliar with things electrical.
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Old 11-17-2012, 07:41 AM   #4
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Breaker panel with no main switch


What you have there is actually a sub panel---the main panel is in your buildings utility room---there should be a breaker there to turn off the power to your unit-----
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Old 11-17-2012, 10:53 AM   #5
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Breaker panel with no main switch


Thank you everyone for your helpful responses.
There are six sets of breakers (2 in each) with the number "15" on them.
Two additional breaker sets have different numbers: one is marked "30" and the other "40".
Is there any chance that the #30 & #40 would shut off the six breaker sets? Or do you think I will still have to find out where a "main breaker" is & shut off the power to all the condo units . . . then try to take out the breaker . . . buy another breaker . . . and replace the one that isn't working? . . . which means the whole bldg will be out of power for sometime.
(Guess I am hoping to fix the problem without shutting off power to the 26 condo owners who live in the building.)
Thanks again for your wisdom.
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Old 11-17-2012, 11:03 AM   #6
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Breaker panel with no main switch


Quote:
Originally Posted by bjrsadie
Thank you everyone for your helpful responses.
There are six sets of breakers (2 in each) with the number "15" on them.
Two additional breaker sets have different numbers: one is marked "30" and the other "40".
Is there any chance that the #30 & #40 would shut off the six breaker sets? Or do you think I will still have to find out where a "main breaker" is & shut off the power to all the condo units . . . then try to take out the breaker . . . buy another breaker . . . and replace the one that isn't working? . . . which means the whole bldg will be out of power for sometime.
(Guess I am hoping to fix the problem without shutting off power to the 26 condo owners who live in the building.)
Thanks again for your wisdom.
Nope your main will most likely be in the main utility room
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Old 11-17-2012, 11:12 AM   #7
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Breaker panel with no main switch


You won't have to shut down the whole building---there will be a big breaker box in the utility room--- with one breaker (a double) marked with your unit number----flip that and only your unit will go dark.
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Old 11-17-2012, 11:41 AM   #8
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Breaker panel with no main switch


ok . . . that makes sense.
Can you please tell me what is the best way to remove the breaker?
Tnx
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Old 11-17-2012, 11:45 AM   #9
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Breaker panel with no main switch


Thought I should re-phrase my last question (sorry):

What is the best way to remove the breaker that needs to be replaced?
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Old 11-17-2012, 11:51 AM   #10
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Breaker panel with no main switch


Need the brand of the box--or a picture----most hook into the panel on the wire side and then push onto a bar in the center/back--others are odd balls and we need to know the brand to help with those==
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Old 11-17-2012, 11:55 AM   #11
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Breaker panel with no main switch


Just FYI...

The following is "typical", without seeing your actual panel.

The markings on a breaker indicate the maximum current the breaker will allow before opening ("breaking") the circuit. The breakers marked 15 will pass 15 amperes, those marked 30 allow 30A, etc.

If you had a main breaker, its rating would be larger than the largest breaker in your panel, but probably smaller than the sum of all the breakers. If I had to guess, I suspect your main breaker (in the utility room) is between 100A and 150A.

The twelve (six sets of 2) 15 Amp breakers provide 120V power to things like outlets, light fixtures, and medium power appliances, such as refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, etc. The 2 breakers in a single breaker slot is called a tandem breaker, and it's used simply to save space... the two breakers control different branch circuits.

The 30A and 40A breakers are a different story. They probably look like two single breakers side by side, with a bar connecting the two handles. Opening one breaker also opens the other. These are used for 240V circuits, which have two "hot" conductors (120V circuits have a single hot). 240V power is used for higher wattage devices, such as hot water heaters, air-conditioners, ranges, ovens, heat pumps, etc.

If there isn't a legend inside the breaker panel as to which breaker controls which circuit, a rainy Saturday project would be to turn off one breaker at a time, then see which circuits go out. Make up a chart showing what each breaker does, and post in it/near your breaker panel.
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Old 11-17-2012, 01:50 PM   #12
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Breaker panel with no main switch


Thanks everyone for all your help.
Dave, the panel box is a "Siemens".
However, it's now fixed! Apparently, the breaker switch had not fully flipped and was sitting 1/2 way between being on & off . . . so I was advised to push it fully 'off' so it could reset . . . and then flip it back to the 'on' position. I am so relieved it was an easy fix.
I learned a lot from our discussions and appreciate everyone sharing their wisdom/experience. Again, thanks so much.
Brenda
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Old 11-17-2012, 02:38 PM   #13
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Breaker panel with no main switch


Glad it's "fixed" but something caused it to trip. Likely to happen again.
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Old 11-17-2012, 02:48 PM   #14
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Breaker panel with no main switch


A couple of landscapers doing work for the condo building had plugged their power saw into my external outlet . . . and I think that is what tripped the breaker. I plan to ask them not to do that anymore . . . so hopefully it won't happen again.

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