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  1. #1
    Wade Johnson's Avatar
    Wade Johnson Guest

    Default Electrical panel

    Good morning. What is happening when some of the breakers in a panel are warm or even hot to the touch?

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  2. #2
    Join Date
    Aug 2008
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    Default Re: Electrical panel

    Heat is generated by the current flowing through the breaker. This heat is what causes a breaker to trip on overload.

    Abnormal levels of heat could point to a problem.


  3. #3
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    Default Re: Electrical panel

    Were they AFCI breakers?

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Electrical panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Port View Post
    Heat is generated by the current flowing through the breaker. This heat is what causes a breaker to trip on overload...
    Well, at least in many modern designs, not exactly, see for example:

    HowStuffWorks "Basic Circuit Breaker Design"

    Michael Thomas
    Paragon Property Services Inc., Chicago IL
    http://paragoninspects.com

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
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    Colorado Front Range
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    601

    Default Re: Electrical panel

    Most all breakers of modern manufacture (that you're likely to find in a residence) have both a magnetic and thermal component to the trip mechanism.

    An illustration that does not reflect actual trip curves but illustrates the point is a 15 AMP breaker may carry 16 Amps for many hours before tripping, but will trip much sooner with a 30 AMP load.

    The magnetic component makes for instant tripping when a fault occurs.

    Older breakers may lack the magnetic component


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Electrical panel

    Quote Originally Posted by Wade Johnson View Post
    Good morning. What is happening when some of the breakers in a panel are warm or even hot to the touch?
    If there were lots of high intensity lights on for a long time, it might explain the problem. A Zinsco/Sylvania panel might be arcing at the buss bar connection. I would defer and have an electrical contractor look at it.

    Department of Redundancy Department
    http://www.FullCircleInspect.com/

  7. #7
    Jon mackay's Avatar
    Jon mackay Guest

    Default Re: Electrical panel

    I had an electric water heater turn on while I was inspecting a panel and the 30 Amp breaker heated up to about 100 degrees.


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