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Old 03-14-2010, 06:14 PM   #1
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Intermittent circuit, breaker not tripping


I have a circuit in my house that started going out intermittently, but not tripping the breaker. Everything will be just fine then all of a sudden, the lights start flickering, the TV shuts off and then, just as quick, it happens again. The breaker never popped. I went down to the panel when this was happening and could here a buzz before the lights wnt out, then another buzz, the lights came back on, only to go out again withinn a few minutes.

So...I replaced the breaker and everything worked OK for 15 minutes and it started doing it again. I killed the main, reopened the box and checked everything again, putting a screwdriver to every connection (didn't find anything loose). I also followed the wires out of the box to the first junction box (which only houses a splice) and checked the wires for security. Everything was fine.

I went ahead and restored the panel and threw the main back on and so far so good, going on 90 minutes now. Question: If this happens again, any idea what I should do next? I was thinking about replacing the wire that is spliced in the junction box and eliminating that box, and splice all together.

The house is about 65 years old, the box is a Cutler Hammer and it's a 20A breaker.


Thanks in advance!

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Old 03-14-2010, 06:18 PM   #2
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Intermittent circuit, breaker not tripping


Did you check the bus bar on the main panel where the old breaker was installed before installing the new breaker ?

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Old 03-14-2010, 06:21 PM   #3
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Intermittent circuit, breaker not tripping


Not really, other than making sure there was something for the breaker to snap onto.
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Old 03-14-2010, 06:28 PM   #4
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Intermittent circuit, breaker not tripping


Basically you look for any signs of arcing, discoloration on the bus bar
That might indicate the new breaker will not make a good connection
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Old 03-14-2010, 06:35 PM   #5
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Intermittent circuit, breaker not tripping


I didn't see anything like that and there's no evidence of it on the old breaker.

Everything is still working A-OK now. Maybe it was a gremlin?
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Old 03-14-2010, 07:03 PM   #6
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Intermittent circuit, breaker not tripping


Quote:
Originally Posted by Scuba_Dave View Post
Did you check the bus bar on the main panel where the old breaker was installed before installing the new breaker ?
I second the motion. If the wire makes good, tight contact with the breaker, it's always an issue of contact between the breaker and the bus bar. sometimes, --as in the case of another thread with a similar problem upstream-- the current doesn't flow through due to corrosion (on the bar or the tip of the breaker) or the breaker is loose. I don't think the Cutler Hammer box and the breakers are 65 years old. The use of circuit breakers at that time was not widespread. (Not that I remember!

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