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  1. #1
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    Default Powder on breakers

    At yesterdays inspection I observed this white powder on all the breakers. The house was new (2006) and no moisture problems in basement. I looked at some old threads but could not find a good answer. Can anyone help me out? I would also appreciate any information on the middle picture which shows a type of surge arrestor integrated into breaker.

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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    Well, I guess I'll answer my own thread. I did a little googling and found out that on Siemens breakers this is factory applied. On some other manufacturers breakers you will see a white plastic strip. The other threads I looked at seemed to think it was to prevent tampering with the screw or an insulating material. I would still like to hear from a sparky (Speedy Petey) for confirmation and any info on that breaker with the surge arrestor. Thanks.

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    I should have just googled this stuff before bothering everyone but I found the surge arrestor also: SIEMENS QSA1515 PLUG IN SURGE BREAKER 2 SINGLE POLE 15 - Commercial Residential Surge Protection

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    Quote Originally Posted by Robert Meier View Post
    It's applied at the factory to keep someone from tampering with the screw under it.
    Doesn't look like it would prevent any tampering to me and didn't stop you!

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  5. #5
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Rees View Post
    I should have just googled this stuff before bothering everyone but I found the surge arrestor also: SIEMENS QSA1515 PLUG IN SURGE BREAKER 2 SINGLE POLE 15 - Commercial Residential Surge Protection
    Only 2-years? Not even worth installing.


  6. #6
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    Thanks for bringing this up. I see this white powder several times a year. An electrician told me that he didn't know what it was about either, but he'd never found any problems associated with it.

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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    I saw this on breakers twice this week from homes built in the late 70's or early 80's......figured it was some kind of corrosion. What do you all think of it.corrosion on breakers.JPG


  8. #8
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    Ray, From what I could find out it is completely normal and factory applied. My first impression was the same as yours.

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    Thanks but I'm having a hard time believing it's factory applied Tom. Seems to resemble zinc corrosion and I usually see iron type of rust underneath the "white powder". Maybe we can get a few more inspectors to chime in on this subject.


  10. #10
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    I expect to see white powder in new construction. It is drywall dust.

    Not saying that is what you have there, but that is what I see when I open a panel. I lay a piece of paper on the floor to catch the powder.

    BTW, ever wonder where the original panel screws disappear to? The drywaller's Shop vac sucks them out of the bottom of the panel.

    John Kogel, RHI, BC HI Lic #47455
    www.allsafehome.ca

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    I just got back from a morning inspection on a 30 year old house. In the GE panel box, on the back of the house, whadyaknow........white powder on the breakers. But it is obvious that the powder is a factory applied material. But it wasn't applied as a loose dust. It's some kind of non rubberized sealant that appears to cover a screw.

    First photo shows some of the breakers lower down on the bus. The material is intact. It just looks like a white square on the breaker above the lug.

    But the upper breakers on the same bus show the material has crumbled to dust and settled onto the flat surface below. (Yeah, I noted no anti-oxidant on the aluminum among other issues in the panel) This is an exterior panel, and while no weather has invaded it, it's certainly exposed to exterior conditions over its life which may contribute to the deterioration of the material.

    Usually, when I see this, all the breakers have the same loose powder, but this panel had some of the sealant intact and others with it loose giving a nice "before and after" image. As mentioned earlier, no one has ever told me that this leads to some problems with the breakers, nor have I seen any over the years, but for me, I think the mini-mystery is solved.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    Ray, Go to a store that carries breakers, open a Siemens breaker package and you will see the filler already applied (I did), so unless fairies break in at night and apply it I would assume that it is factory applied. Google some other threads at different sites and you will find the same answer.

    From another site:
    "If you scrape all of that white stuff off, you will find a little screw. The white stuff is just some kind of insulating compound. It should be EXTREMELY hard, almost ceramic like.

    If you look on a Square D or CH breaker, in the same spot, you will see a little sticker. Take the sticker off and you will find a little screw.

    It's factory, there for a "reason", and should be of absolutely no concern. Over time, and with heat cycles, you will find that that compound starts to degrade in to a softer powder though. I have never seen it completely deteriorate to show the screw though, not saying it isn't possible, just haven't seen it."

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    Ray, After rereading my last post I realized I may have come across as condescending, my apologies. It was meant to be funny not to offend you.

    Tom Rees / A Closer Look Home Inspection / Salt Lake City, Utah

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    Thanks for the info guys....I guess the mystery is solved.....


  15. #15
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    Default Re: Powder on breakers

    Quote Originally Posted by Tom Rees View Post
    Ray, After rereading my last post I realized I may have come across as condescending, my apologies. It was meant to be funny not to offend you.
    Might be a little offensive to fairies that work at home depot

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