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Old 12-21-2012, 08:03 AM   #1
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What Went Wrong? Breaker Panel Swap (expert advice needed!)


Hello everybody! My homeowners insurance company recently decided that my main breaker panel was no longer safe and told me that I would need to have it changed to a different model. I didn't feel like this was the type of task that should take on myself and didn't know if it was even legal for me to do so, so I hired an electrician.

The electrician came in, did the change out and told me that everything went smoothly. When I got home that evening I realized little by little that evidently everything didn't go so well. Turns out that, although there is correct juice to all outlets and appliances, my ice/water maker, microwave, dishwasher and coffee maker are all dead. All four dead appliances are on different breakers. I had an appliance repair man inspect them and it turns out that all circuit boards are fried!

I contacted the electrician who did the work and he swears that nothing happened during the panel change out and power up He is trying to say that there must be a nicked wire in the bundle where it comes through the panel box and that it was not his fault.

So, to all of you electricians out there, what could have happened to fry four separate appliances on four separate circuits at once?


Last edited by swfl; 12-22-2012 at 07:26 AM. Reason: answered
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:16 AM   #2
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What Went Wrong? Breaker Panel Swap (expert advice needed!)


Possibly a surge fried everything. It could be unrelated to the work that the electrician did.

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Old 12-21-2012, 08:24 AM   #3
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Possibly a surge fried everything. It could be unrelated to the work that the electrician did.
This surge would have had to happen during about a 1 hour period between the time that he fired up the new panel and the time that I discovered the issues. And the surge would have only affected appliances in the kitchen as everything else in the home is functioning and intact?
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:29 AM   #4
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What Went Wrong? Breaker Panel Swap (expert advice needed!)


Check to see if the 4 circuits are on MWBC (multi wire branch circuits). If they are he may have applied power without the neutrals connected and put 240 volts on all these circuits.
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:40 AM   #5
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What Went Wrong? Breaker Panel Swap (expert advice needed!)


He has insurance for this. He needs to make good on this.
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Old 12-21-2012, 08:51 AM   #6
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What Went Wrong? Breaker Panel Swap (expert advice needed!)


Is it possible, yes. Very likly there was a surge in the incoming power at the exact time frame he was there about a billion to one.
I've seen the same thing happen twice, both times it happened during a switch out. The last one took out, the TV, one of those high dollar lift chairs, a window A/C unit. All on the same circut. When I pulled the brand new panel cover off there was black soot all over the back side of it, I also found a piece of a broken breaker laying on the floor. Of course this electrictrition also said everything had gone fine.
So I started back tracking his other work he had done. He was suppost to do a complete rewire and bring everything up to code.
One new outlet he had used a low voltage box, For some strange reason he had cut off the ground wire inside the box instead of just connecting it up to the switch.
He had pulled up some deck board in the attic and just left them laying there with the nails pointing up.
He had to pull some insulation out in the attic to get to the new fan boxes and just left it in a heap.
The same company installed a whole new HVAC system. They reused the old return lines which was fine but just a grate with no filters. I opened the grate and found a trash bag full of old lint within arms reach. When asked why the grate was not replaced with one that could hold a filter and he said the one in the air exchanger is all I needed And it was imposable to install because of where the grate was.
$24.00 for parts and an hours labor I had two new filters in place.
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Old 12-21-2012, 09:09 AM   #7
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Check to see if the 4 circuits are on MWBC (multi wire branch circuits). If they are he may have applied power without the neutrals connected and put 240 volts on all these circuits.
I know for sure at least some of them are multi-wire. It is my understanding that due to the age of the construction (1984) when multi-wire circuits are used they could be tied together in such a way as to effectively make several others 'multi-wire'? I don't know if this is correct or understand it completely but it was explained to me that way by a different electrician.
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Old 12-21-2012, 09:11 AM   #8
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What Went Wrong? Breaker Panel Swap (expert advice needed!)


I know it wasn't a freak power surge. What about his "nicked wire" theory? I can't see any way that a nicked wire could do anything more than trip a breaker?

(This story goes deeper BTW, I just want to tackle it one hurdle at a time)
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Old 12-21-2012, 09:53 AM   #9
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What Went Wrong? Breaker Panel Swap (expert advice needed!)


Perhaps 240 volts was connected to 120 volt circuits by some accidental miswiring?

I would check *everything* in the house to be sure it is working ok. Don't forget doorbell, timers, GFCI outlets, and anything which is "always on" or operated by a remote control. Furnace, window A/C, automatic outdoor lights, garage door opener, water sprinklers, cell phone chargers, etc. (So many of these gadgets lately!)

As to how this could happen, people make mistakes - all the wires coming into an electric panel can be the same color and size. Easy to mix up which is which. A wire label could be applied to the wrong wire at one end, especially on a Monday before coffee! A screwdriver or wrench can slip and make an electrical connection from one point to another. A new electrician helper (working with an electrician) could do something. When connecting wires on the roof / to the electric company a wire can flop over and touch another for a moment. The electric company could have done this if they were connecting things.

Anyway accidents happen.
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:11 AM   #10
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What Went Wrong? Breaker Panel Swap (expert advice needed!)


Tell the electrician he needs to replace the burned up equipment and he does/should have insurance for this type of issue. I hope you checked him out good before you hired him. He should have sufficient insurance, a license and a building permit for your job.
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:22 AM   #11
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What Went Wrong? Breaker Panel Swap (expert advice needed!)


Quote:
Originally Posted by rjniles View Post
Check to see if the 4 circuits are on MWBC (multi wire branch circuits). If they are he may have applied power without the neutrals connected and put 240 volts on all these circuits.
This.
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:26 AM   #12
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What Went Wrong? Breaker Panel Swap (expert advice needed!)


Sounds like it would be prudent practice to unplug those expensive electrical devices before doing a panel upgrade.
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:34 AM   #13
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Tell the electrician he needs to replace the burned up equipment and he does/should have insurance for this type of issue. I hope you checked him out good before you hired him. He should have sufficient insurance, a license and a building permit for your job.
Unfortunately I have come to find out after the fact that he isn't licensed and insured. He generally works under the license of another electrician but took this job on his own. He gave me a business card that said he had 30 years experience in the field and seemed to know what he was talking about, I didn't think to dig any deeper than that.

I don't know what recourse I may have at this point, I'm probably just screwed. He is insisting that he did nothing wrong and that this must be the result of some pre-existing condition with the wiring.

Either way, I still hope to understand exactly what may have happened as I don't want to blame him if there is a plausible explanation for what happened that he had no control over, I just don't see one and haven't heard anything that doesn't lead back to electrician error.
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:54 AM   #14
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What Went Wrong? Breaker Panel Swap (expert advice needed!)


Did he get the work inspected. He should be able to provide you an inspection ticket. Your only recourse might be through the courts.
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Old 12-21-2012, 11:20 AM   #15
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What Went Wrong? Breaker Panel Swap (expert advice needed!)


OK, so this guy is not licensed, but is passing himself off as being licensed.

You could report him to the appropriate licensing authority in your state. What state are you in?

Also, if you are comfortable removing the front panel of your box, take a pic or two and post them here, and we can take a look at it for you.

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