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Old 03-14-2010, 11:08 AM   #1
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Replacing a breaker


The breaker in our house that controls our hot water heater has gone bad. I noticed we didn't have hot water, so I went out, hit the breaker switch for it, and then tested the two elements in the heater. They both lit up my tester light, so I turned the breaker back on, and it started hissing and sparking. I shut it back off quickly. It's a 2-pole, 30 Amp module, and from what I can tell, all I need to do is shut off the mains for the house, unattach the two lines, pull the module out, and then replace with a like module. Is it really that simple? Am I overlooking anything I need to know? If I just go to Lowe's and buy a similar looking 2-pole, 30 amp module, is that all that I need to worry about, or are there other factors in the breaker that I don't know about? I know next-to-nothing about electricity (and quite frankly, most things electrical scare the bejesus out of me), but it looks like a simple fix as long as I have the mains off. Anything anyone can help me with?

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Old 03-14-2010, 11:10 AM   #2
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Replacing a breaker


It can be that simple.
What brand of panel?
You may have buss bar issues the precludes yoiu from using that spot again.

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Old 03-14-2010, 11:52 AM   #3
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Replacing a breaker


I actually don't see a brand anywhere on the panel - where would it be located?

Also, after talking with my father (who has a bit more electrical know-how than I), he mentioned that I need to be sure about the poles, in that, the breaker I have takes up 2 spaces, and has two big lines going into it, but the switch on it is the size of a 1-space breaker, instead of one of those double-switches, if that makes any sense? If not, help me explain, I don't really know the jargon to make sense of all this. How would I know if I had buss bar issues?

EDIT:
It physically looks very similar to this:

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Old 03-14-2010, 11:54 AM   #4
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Replacing a breaker


Can you post a pic ?
Of breaker & panel ?
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Old 03-14-2010, 11:55 AM   #5
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Replacing a breaker


Quote:
They both lit up my tester light, so I turned the breaker back on, and it started hissing and sparking.
the breaker was hissing and sparking or the connection from the breaker to the bus bar it attaches to?

I know, you don't know.

Is there a brand name on the breaker?

can you do pictures? they make things easier for us to help sometimes.
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Old 03-14-2010, 11:56 AM   #6
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Replacing a breaker


does yours have that little yellow "D" inside that yellow square on it?
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Old 03-14-2010, 11:58 AM   #7
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Replacing a breaker


The one pictured is a Square D QO style breaker. It will only fit a QO Square D panel. Look at the breaker in your panel. It will say right on the breaker, what it is. The panel will also tell you the type required.
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:04 PM   #8
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Replacing a breaker


If your breaker is the same as the one in the photo, then you will need a Square D QO-230.

Those breakers are readily available at most home center stores.
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:08 PM   #9
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Replacing a breaker


Here's the only clear shot I could get of the breaker itself (and it's not really clear). I'll try to get a photo of the panel, but my camera just died on me (didn't have much battery life left). Be back in a bit with more pics.
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:12 PM   #10
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Replacing a breaker


Close enough. That is a Square D type QO panel.

You need the QO-230 breaker.
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:13 PM   #11
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Awesome, thanks guys!

As for switching it out, is it as simple as I mentioned above? Turn off the mains, unscrew the wires, pull out module, replace, screw in wires, turn on the mains?
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:14 PM   #12
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Replacing a breaker


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Originally Posted by Daggerhart View Post
Awesome, thanks guys!

As for switching it out, is it as simple as I mentioned above? Turn off the mains, unscrew the wires, pull out module, replace, screw in wires, turn on the mains?
Yup. While it's off, take a close look at the buss bar stabs to ensure they are not charred, burned, or melted before you plug in the new breaker.
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:22 PM   #13
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Yup. While it's off, take a close look at the buss bar stabs to ensure they are not charred, burned, or melted before you plug in the new breaker.
Is there anything you can tell me specifically about this? I don't know what buss bars are. Thanks!
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Old 03-14-2010, 12:57 PM   #14
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Replacing a breaker


I'm an electrician in Ontario and yes thier advice is right - the bus bars ar the metal bars in the center where the breaker attaches - only on FPE panels do you need to put them in the right spot to get 220 V - and yes check the bars underneath the breaker - hissing is arcing
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Old 03-14-2010, 01:03 PM   #15
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Replacing a breaker


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Is there anything you can tell me specifically about this? I don't know what buss bars are. Thanks!
They are a little bit different from one Mfg to another:


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