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Old 01-04-2013, 01:55 PM   #1
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The other day I was changing a light fixture in the dining room while taking out the old fixture the hot wire touched the neutral wire and arched. My question is when this happened the circuit breaker didn't trip as I would expect and there was quite a bit or arcing. My house is wired with conduit and THHN wire. Is there a potential issue I should be worried about i.e. this circuit not being grounded.

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Old 01-04-2013, 02:54 PM   #2
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What brand of breaker panel do you have? Is it Federal Pacific (FPE) Stab-Lok or Zinsco? If so, you may want to replace it. Those have a reputation for failing to trip (as well as causing other problems). If it's a modern panel, then it's probably fair to say that the breaker didn't trip because the short was not maintained for long enough, and it's normal. Not every brief fault will trip the breaker.

The more important question is WHY THE HECK WERE YOU WORKING ON IT WITH THE POWER ON?!?!

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Old 01-04-2013, 02:54 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by jcanderson View Post
The other day I was changing a light fixture in the dining room while taking out the old fixture the hot wire touched the neutral wire and arched. My question is when this happened the circuit breaker didn't trip as I would expect and there was quite a bit or arcing. My house is wired with conduit and THHN wire. Is there a potential issue I should be worried about i.e. this circuit not being grounded.
Just curious why you didn't turn the breaker off? Arcing does not mean a breaker will trip (this is why arc fault breakers were created.) Your last question isn't really clear. The condition you referenced doesn't really have anything to do with whether a ground is present or not. If you have a solid conduit connection back to the panel the circuit is likely grounded.
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Old 01-04-2013, 09:47 PM   #4
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Originally Posted by jcanderson View Post
The other day I was changing a light fixture in the dining room while taking out the old fixture the hot wire touched the neutral wire and arched. My question is when this happened the circuit breaker didn't trip as I would expect and there was quite a bit or arcing. My house is wired with conduit and THHN wire. Is there a potential issue I should be worried about i.e. this circuit not being grounded.
If they are just standard type breakers !
IE not arc fault, then it does not mean they are faulty !
They could be BUT for a breaker to trip out there must be
at least two things occurring 1 - overcurrant , 2 - over a minimum
time.

So if there was a short over currant whilst it arced,
if it is within the minimum trip out time,
then it will not happen.

Replace the breaker if you wish (as it cant hurt),
but not a definate problem as such !


It is normal for there to be surges of currant in the system,
if the breakers were too sensitive,
you would be forever reseting them,
a pain for most people.
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Old 01-05-2013, 07:05 AM   #5
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Surges of currant would be berry bad.
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