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Old 01-23-2009, 10:48 PM   #1
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Breaker Trips


Hello,
Hopefully someone can answer this for me. I just had two 200 amps main panels installed and a 100 amp sub panel. I had the boiler go off and when I checked it found it had no power. Checked the main panel and all breakers were on the "ON" position solidly. I knew which breaker supplied the boiler so I turned it OFF and then ON again and the boiler came back on. My question is: How (or why) can a breaker trip and stay on the "ON" position? Maybe the breakers are brand new and are sticking???? Thanks for your time.

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Old 01-24-2009, 05:38 AM   #2
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Breaker Trips


All breakers trip internally, but many can "stick" and appear to still be in the on position.

This is why I prefer to use a breaker that has a visual trip indicator, such as the Square D type QO line (notice the red indicator window):


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Old 01-24-2009, 06:25 AM   #3
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Breaker Trips


that is considered the trip position just barely movable compared to the full off locked position.reboot the breaker in its holder...take a screw driver and check the wire there going out to the boiler and its connections....just to be on the safe side.
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Old 01-24-2009, 07:14 AM   #4
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Breaker Trips


Thanks for your time and advice.
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Old 01-24-2009, 09:21 AM   #5
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Breaker Trips


Usually when a breaker trips and it doesn't have the trip indicator on the breaker, just lightly pushing the breaker to off will cause it to pop to the off position if it is tripped. So if you didn't know which one it was, just lightly pushing all the breakers towards off would kick the one that is tripped to the off position.

I too like the Square D QO line of breakers and panels. I have a few panels I have wired up and that's all I like using. Its easy to tell when breakers are tripped (not that I have that problem with breakers tripping) and I like the way the breakers snap into the bus.
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Old 01-24-2009, 09:34 AM   #6
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Breaker Trips


My curiosity comes from the breaker remaining in the "ON" position. The breakers I had before the upgrade would feel loose midway in the breaker. You will turn them "OFF" then "ON" to reset them. The electrician needs to come back so I am trying to pick up a little knowledge so I have something to gauge his answers to. Anyone know if these square D breakers fit a Cutler-Hammer panel? Or does Cutler-Hammer make something similar? Again, thanks for your help and time.
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Old 01-24-2009, 09:35 AM   #7
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Breaker Trips


Bigger question... why did the breaker trip?
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Old 01-24-2009, 10:07 AM   #8
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It is the reason we are doing the upgrade. The entire first floor including it's boiler is on only three circuits. The second and third floors are just in 4 circuits. I had the panels installed, next I am having each floor rewired and brought up to code. I need to do this one step at a time (one floor at the time) since my budget can not cover every floor done at once.
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Old 01-24-2009, 11:37 AM   #9
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Breaker Trips


When a breaker trips, the internal mechanism causes the electrical contacts to open, and disconnects the handle from these contacts. This is the only way it can be made so that holding the handle in the on position will not force the contacts to stay closed. Imagine what would happen if you forced the contacts closed into a short circuit!

The tripping mechanism consists of a series of springs, some stronger than others. One of these springs is designed to move the handle to the mid position in case of a trip. This spring needs to be the weakest one of the whole bunch, and is sometimes not strong enough to actually move the handle.

The reason you must move the handle to the off position after a trip (and why it's hard to do) is because you're resetting the trip spring. The trip spring is the strongest spring of all. (If you think the trip spring in a 20 amp breaker is strong, try resetting a 2000 amp 3 pole one!).

Rob

P.S. I like the Square D QO breakers and panels as well.
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Old 01-24-2009, 12:00 PM   #10
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Breaker Trips


Thanks for the information. But, what would cause a breaker to trip and remain on the "ON" position? Or at least it feels like it is still in the "ON" position. With the old breakers I had I could instantly tell which breaker had trip. Thanks.
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Old 01-24-2009, 01:44 PM   #11
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Breaker Trips


Worst breakers were the Federal Pacific and Zinsco breakers. They would never trip sometimes. Imagine a direct short circuit with 5000 amps flowing through tiny 14 awg wires.
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Old 01-24-2009, 02:07 PM   #12
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Breaker Trips


In your case, the handle looked like it was on, but the breaker had in fact tripped. To get it to re-energize the circuit, you had to push the handle to off (against a spring), then push it to on.

The little spring that was supposed to move the handle to the mid position simply wasn't strong enough.

This doesn't mean that the breaker is bad, the movement of the handle to the mid position is a convenience, not a safety issue. Some breakers (like the Cutler-Hammer CH type) move the handle all the way to off when they trip.

Rob
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Old 01-24-2009, 02:37 PM   #13
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Breaker Trips


any horizontal movement on a breaker is considered TRIPPED to reset OFF then back to ON.over heating in the wire makes the breaker trip
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Old 01-24-2009, 04:52 PM   #14
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Breaker Trips


Thanks for the info. I believe these are cutler hammer but not sure on the type. I need to see the electrician again soon anyway, I was just trying to educate myself so that I can be satisfied with any answers he gives me. Thanks again.
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Old 01-24-2009, 06:12 PM   #15
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Every Cutler-Hammer type CH that I've ever seen has a tan colored handle. Even ones from 40 years ago.

The BR series have black handles, though sometimes the handles are color-coded for the amp rating. Blue = 15, Red = 20, Green = 30, and I don't remember the rest.

Rob

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