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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hello all,
I opened my panel recently to replace my buzzing doorbell transformer.
I’ve been putting it off for ages.
It has been buzzing for the past 25 years or so, so I figured it was time to get to work.
So I purchased the replacement and then…

(I am located in Alberta, Canada)

Upon opening my ancient panel, I saw that my neutral bus bar has a rather crispy looking wire on it.
and no, I have no idea where it goes…. :(

157485



Others online have also pointed out to me that there is a significant amount of double tapping on my breakers as well.
I have no idea how I could even address this. The home owners in the 80s were the last to be in here I imagine.

Here is an image gallery of the panel and its insides

I have done plenty of DIY work on small electronics, fixing video game consoles and soldering arduino boards etc, but I am not at all experienced with building-level electric work.

Questions:

1) Is this a situation where a user such as myself could…

  • switch off the main breaker at the top of the panel
  • lift off the burnt looking neutral
  • cut it back to a point where it looks decent
  • strip the cut back wire 10mm or so
  • fasten it under the unused ‘screw’ to the immediate right of where it appears to be now?

2) Is this way above the skill level of…
A YouTube educated DIYer with a screwdriver, Hakko wire strippers, and safety glasses?

3) IF I do call a professional electrician to come investigate/repair…
  • Will I be forced to pay them to repair/change any and all problems they spot?
  • Or can I pick and choose what I want done, without them reporting my old houses code problems to my insurance company and raising my rates/ruining my life?

Thank you for your time!
 

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2) Is this way above the skill level of…
A YouTube educated DIYer with a screwdriver, Hakko wire strippers, and safety glasses?
The panel design has done a good job of walling off the main breaker from the branch circuit breakers, so it looks pretty safe to work inside.

They sure pack that area unnecessarily tight, don't they?
You're too much of a novice to have meaningful opinions about that.

Others online have also pointed out to me that there is a significant amount of double tapping on my breakers as well.
Maybe instead of making us all re-guess from scratch, you should link to the other conversations you have been having, so we can get caught up to what's already been discussed. I have never understood why people ask a question then ask the same question again elsewhere and want people there to start over.

As far as double-tapping on breakers, who cares? They're UL listed for that. That's why they're designed that way. Pushmatic does the same thing.

And here I thought it was supposed to be ONE neutral per screw?
Ditto. These are designed and listed for 2 wires. The NEC "1 wire per screw" refers to the lug style connections.

However, you do in fact have a lug style connection that is double-tapped, on the left side of the netural bar. That needs fixing.

Some flickering lights in the home, and some lights burn out very fast. Could the burned looking neutrals be the cause?
Yes, if they serve a multi-wire branch circuit. Follow the neutral to its partner hot(s). If there are 2, it's a MWBC and a lost neutral there is Very Bad. Make sure the voltage between the hots is 240V. If it's 0V, that will fry the neutral.

However, a piece of science that was learned since this panel was wired is that screw torques really matter. And wrong torque will result in wire burnout just like this. So that is the likely cause of the existing problem.

I've heard that this is a rebrand of the Federal Pacific / Federal Pioneer "Commander" breaker box? That's not good...
Don't worry about that. These aren't the Federal Pacific "Stab-Lok" panels we're worried about. Stab-Lok used bus "stabs" but in an unusual way that caused problems. But even modern plug-on panels have bus stab problems, especially when breaker brands are crossed.

In fact, this is a bolt-on panel, it is incapable of having bus stab problems since it doesn't have bus stabs.


Will I be forced to pay them to repair/change any and all problems they spot?
The obvious ones, yeah. A dumb electrician might not realize those breakers are approved for double-tapping and might kick a fuss about that. They'll make you fix the double-tapped neutral on the lug. No electrician is going to walk away from this panel with a frickin' hole in the panel face, you need to obtain 1 more of this kind of breaker and install it in that empty location. They make blank cover plates for that, but they're extremely flimsy and don't fit well... you'll have an easier time finding a breaker, and then, you can put it to good use.
 
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