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Discussion Starter #1
For the past few days we've noticed the lights flickering and pulsing, as I went and stood near the panel I could hear arcing. I removed the cover and pushed in on all the breakers thinking one of them was loose, but no such luck! I could hear the arcing coming from behind the main 200 amp throw and as I pushed around on it I could hear the pitch of the arcing changing. The panel is a General Switch Company 200 amp. It looks like the main can be switched out but is that any good as the buss bars probably have arcing damage now. I haven't removed the main yet to see how bad it is, I thought I had better get a new panel on hand prior to doing so, so I can be prepared to swap out the entire panel. Am I on the right track?? Can the main be changed? Should I just replace the box? Or do I have bigger problems on my hands??
 

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First is the main removal, is it welded to panel or a set screw holding it down
Sounds like someone forgot to use no-ox, probably heated up and broke the pressure plate and now u have a loose connection

Sent from my iPhone using DIY Forum
 

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Devil Dog
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For the past few days we've noticed the lights flickering and pulsing, as I went and stood near the panel I could hear arcing. I removed the cover and pushed in on all the breakers thinking one of them was loose, but no such luck! I could hear the arcing coming from behind the main 200 amp throw and as I pushed around on it I could hear the pitch of the arcing changing. The panel is a General Switch Company 200 amp. It looks like the main can be switched out but is that any good as the buss bars probably have arcing damage now. I haven't removed the main yet to see how bad it is, I thought I had better get a new panel on hand prior to doing so, so I can be prepared to swap out the entire panel. Am I on the right track?? Can the main be changed? Should I just replace the box? Or do I have bigger problems on my hands??
Call a licensed electrician and have them inspect your panel before you go digging around in there. This is one area where if you don't know what you're doing you can have some serious consequences.
 

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For the past few days we've noticed the lights flickering and pulsing, as I went and stood near the panel I could hear arcing. I removed the cover and pushed in on all the breakers thinking one of them was loose, but no such luck! I could hear the arcing coming from behind the main 200 amp throw and as I pushed around on it I could hear the pitch of the arcing changing. The panel is a General Switch Company 200 amp. It looks like the main can be switched out but is that any good as the buss bars probably have arcing damage now. I haven't removed the main yet to see how bad it is, I thought I had better get a new panel on hand prior to doing so, so I can be prepared to swap out the entire panel. Am I on the right track?? Can the main be changed? Should I just replace the box? Or do I have bigger problems on my hands??
What would the insurance company want ?
I can guess !
Don't take any chances,
replace the panel and switch.

If money is an issue ?
Turn off all power at meter.
Then pull the panel apart and inspect the damage,
You might be able to fix it !

Hope your confident enough to do so !
Not a job for inexperienced people.
 

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Discussion Starter #5
I'm pretty savey when it comes to electrical work, I just haven't ran across this issue before. I know to turn the power off at the meter before venturing any further I just don't know if this is a common problem or if my logic was in the right direction. It looks like the main breaker is a snap in just like a small breaker - there aren't any screws or rivets that I can see holding it in. I've never heard of this brand of equipment before but then again I don't do this everyday. I'm fairly confident that once I take the panel apart that the buss is going to have significant damage to it so I want to be preparred to replace the box. Is there any one brand better that the others? While I'm going to the trouble I'm going to replace it with a panel that has a few more slots so I can run a sub to the unfinished basement, will pry go with a 30 slot. FYI: I would have a real electrician come take a look but we live in a pretty remote area and the local electrician doesn't know the difference between his ass and a whole in the ground....
 

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Devil Dog
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Upload a picture of your panel, I have a Cutler-Hammer in my house w/200 amp service...I guess all of them are pretty much on the same level these days.
 

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If that is the old GDP style main breaker, they are obsolete. Try Breaker King or Pacific Coast Breakers for reconditioned ones. If in stock, they are about $200.
 

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Electrical Contractor
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I know to turn the power off at the meter before venturing any further I just don't know if this is a common problem or if my logic was in the right direction.
You say turn the power off at the meter. Is the panel you are having problems with after the meter with breaker?

If that is the case you could turn everything off and it would be safe to work in there. But if it has been arching and heating up it may fall apart.

Best to be prepared to do a panel replacement when you dig into the main panel.
 

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I'm afraid that once you get it all apart, you'll find that it's not fixable. The arcing has probably done damage to the busbars or the insulators.

Do I understand that you have a shutoff at the meter? If so, then for code purposes, that's your main and your panel is, codewise, a subpanel. You'll have to make sure that neutral and ground are kept separate at the panel.
 

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Discussion Starter #10
breaker.jpg
Here's a pic of the old 200 amp main, hard to see but there's some damage to the contact points, not to mention the crack in the casing.


box.jpg
Here's a pic of the old box main buss bar; the night before swapping out the panels the entire right side of the panel was faulted out, had to move some circuits (furnace, refrig outlets, etc.) to the other side so things would keep running thru the night...
 

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Discussion Starter #11
new close up.jpg
New GE panel, had to settle for a 20 slot/40 circuit. That's all home depot had and I had to get it swapped the next morning. Decided to install a whole home surge protector while at it.

new 2.jpg
Little wider view of the new panel...
 

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You need to fix those doubled up neutrals... only one allowed per hole.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
refering to the two larger neutrals under the lug or all the littler ones on the bars... or both?
 

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Since you have a disconnect outside you need a four wire feed and your neutral and ground need to be separate.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Since you have a disconnect outside you need a four wire feed and your neutral and ground need to be separate.

Besides it being a code issue, why do the commons and neutrals need to be seperated? What would that do electrically? The reason I ask is the panel I removed had all grounds shoved into one bar, and it worked just fine. It crossed my mind to seperate them but I didn't purchase any additional bars and the nearest store is 70 miles from here. And if required to seperate them why would there only be 40 ground screws in a 40 circuit panel, shouldn't there be 80...? Just curious...
 

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The grounding conductor is not allowed to carry current. If you were to lose a neutral connection the metal of the panel could end up energized. With a ground and a floating neutral that would be isolated if it happens. With your panel you could add a ground bar to both sides of the panel and just move your grounds off to the sides onto the ground bar. And connect the two ground bars with some ground wire.

You would also have to remove your bonding screw from the panel.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Okay, not that I'm doubting you, I just want to understand... Then why do some panels (a few square d panels I looked at) literally had the common and neutral lugs on the same unbondable buss right next to each other?
 

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Okay, not that I'm doubting you, I just want to understand... Then why do some panels (a few square d panels I looked at) literally had the common and neutral lugs on the same unbondable buss right next to each other?
Some have them both on there and they have a screw you set in or a wire that connects to the metal of the panel and then to the bar. And some panels are not made usable as sub panels without adding the proper grounding or neutral bars.
 

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Discussion Starter #20
Thank you for the clairification...

The first chance I get - I will purchase additional bars and get them installed and seperate the grounds, thanks again...
 
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