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Testing a main breaker - power service. Losing power when the neighbors have power. - Page 2

post #16 of 32
Thread Starter 
Ted,

I will take pictures tonight after work.

I thought it was strange that those two breakers would shut off the whole service.

Here is my guess. I think those two breakers are not on the main breaker bus, but are just above it. The power goes from the 200amp main, to the two 100 amp double pole breakers, and then to the bus bars for all of the other breakers in the pannel. So when that break trips it shuts off power between the main breaker and all the other breakers in the pannel.

I think it is functioning as a disconnect so it the circuits that are wired into the transfer switch can be powered with back feeding into the service and out the street. When the generator is in use the two 100 amp breakers would be turned to off, and the pannel would be isolated from the street service.
post #17 of 32
Check the wire. Are you using copper, or aluminum. Aluminum wire heats up quickly, especially if the aluminum oxide gell that is applied at each connection/breaker set screw connection is old, or perhaps dissipated. My dryer circuit, which is wired with aluminum wire, all of a sudden started tripping, when we would run the dryer 2 or 3 time in a row. I applied a liberal coat of the aluminum oxide on the set screw of the breaker, and we have not had problem since. The trouble started 2days after we had an electrician working in the panel, and it appeared the wire was wiped clean of oxide. It was tripping the breaker due to heat build up, at the breaker.
post #18 of 32
Thread Starter 
OK, so I got under the pannel today to take a lookie lou.

I was half right, the breaker that keeps tripping has the two service lines feeding in to it, instead of the 200 amp main breaker which has no wires tapped in to it, but appears physically connected to the pannel otherwise.

So the 100 amp breaker, or is it two 100 amp breakers, is effectively functioning as a main breaker.

I have to double check the wiring, but I believe all was copper except for the two lines that the service is feeding in on.

I have some pictures I will post tomorrow. Need to do some more research, but this ups the ante, since I can't throw the main breaker and isolate the trouble breaker because it is the main breaker itself, and has the street service running right in to it!
post #19 of 32
Thread Starter 
500
500

Here are some crappy cell phone pictures. In the first one you can see where the service comes in the the 100amp double pole breaker, instead of the 200amp main breaker. I don't understand how this wiring setup is powering the opposite bank of breakers? Maybe when the main 200amp breaker is set to on the power back feeds through the main breaker into the second bank of breakers on the right side?

The second picture is a general look at the pannel.
post #20 of 32
no wires hooked to the 200 amp breaker???

i would get an electrician out to look at it, unless you know how you're going to need one to pull the meter to kill power anyway.
post #21 of 32
I don't know a lot.... But I know that aint right.
I don't know of any reason to bypass the main like that.
(Unless the main went bad)

BTW one 100 amp breaker is powering one phase, and the other breaker is powering the other phase.
It's an odd/ even setup.

Unless your handy with a meter, call a pro.
post #22 of 32
You said you have a transfer switch? Where is that panel located and how is it wired into the main panel?
post #23 of 32
Thread Starter 
Jim, not 100% sure, I haven't had the time to do a good job tracing circuits. The transfer switch is right next to the main pannel, it has conduit between the two and lines running out the bottom of the panel to the transfer switch and back. The transfer switch has 6 switches that can turn a circuit to line power, generator power, or off. Those circuits are probably connected from their respective breaker in the electric panel on the load side to the transfer switch and then from the transfer switch to the actual circuit. When a switch on the transfer switch is moved from line to generator for a circuit it probably disconnects that circuit from the main panel so it can be powered through the generator without backfeeding the panel. It isn't wired for whole house generator power, just well pump, furnace, and a few essentials.

Doing some research on electric panels on the web it shows a lot of panels not having the large main breaker at the top of the pannel like mine has, instead many have the main disconnect or breaker as the first double pole breaker in the panel sort of like what is currently wired up in my panel. I can only come up with two explanations myself, the meter and the service into the house is not rated or 200amp service, or the 200 amp main breaker is shot? I don't really know why it was wired this way, why spend the cash to updade to a 200amp setup and then downgrade it to 100amps by wiring it up this way. This is not an original panel to the house, I suspect it was added when the detached garage was built and a service for a hot tub was added.

I have an electrician friend who I am going to ask for some advice and know how, and maybe a helping hand.

I called CL&P, if you have an E1 license you can pull the meter yourself and they will come out and put a new seal on the meter later on. If you are the home owner of a single family home they will come out and pull the meter, and later reinstal free of charge.

Once I figure out what is actually going on and have the parts lined up I will probably go this route.
post #24 of 32
I think they maintained 200A, 2 x 100A legs. Normally the slots on each side alternate between the two busses so 2 slots side by side are one to each bus. I can't figure out anything else though. I was thinking maybe wiring had been rerouted when generator removed to bypass the transfer switch or something. I don't know anything about transfer switches but had been looking at it a little because also been considering installing a generator
post #25 of 32
Doug, if I understand what is being said; The 200A main has no wire in the top of it. In that case turning it off will not turn off your service.

From your pics, it looks like your panel is fed into a 100A breaker you pictured. It is in essence, back-feeding the panel. If that is true, you don't have a 200A service, but you do have a 100A service. Too large of a air conditioner, plus water heater, clothes dryer running at once can trip the 100A and you are without electricity.

It looks like previous owners were trying to do something and try to run the whole house on Generator and somehow got confused on the concept. A visit by a licensed pro is in the cards, to get your panel wired back to safe opps.
post #26 of 32
Thread Starter 
I agree with this assesment.

I am going to check the meter outside when I get home, I have a hunch that the meter and the service coming in from the street is 100 amp. It is possible that the previous owners upgraded the panel to a 200amp panel, but upgrading the street service to 200amp was not done at that time.

What is weird is that in more than one year in this house, with a summer full of AC use while using the drier oven etc we never had this breaker trip.

This entire problem starting occuring after we had the power outages earlier this month. Could a power outage damadge a breaker?

Right now we are not running the AC but it is tripping once a day or so, but it doesn't appear to correspond with periods of high load. If it was a short or an appliance that is going bad and pulling to much juice I would expect it to trip more often, and with some pattern, for example every time the well pump turned on it would trip. I am not noticing that at all.

No electric water heater. Big loads are well pump, 1 window AC unit, washer and drier.
post #27 of 32
Sorry, mind fart. 100A service. Backfeeding the panel from the generator possibly was why I asked about the transfer switch. Someone qualified should look at it. I'd also be concerned to know if properly grounded. Electrical storm surge could damage breakers especially if grounding isn't right. Might be a 200A meter whether you have 100 or 200A service entrance.
post #28 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by DougH View Post

I agree with this assesment.

I am going to check the meter outside when I get home, I have a hunch that the meter and the service coming in from the street is 100 amp. It is possible that the previous owners upgraded the panel to a 200amp panel, but upgrading the street service to 200amp was not done at that time.

What is weird is that in more than one year in this house, with a summer full of AC use while using the drier oven etc we never had this breaker trip.

This entire problem starting occuring after we had the power outages earlier this month. Could a power outage damadge a breaker?

Right now we are not running the AC but it is tripping once a day or so, but it doesn't appear to correspond with periods of high load. If it was a short or an appliance that is going bad and pulling to much juice I would expect it to trip more often, and with some pattern, for example every time the well pump turned on it would trip. I am not noticing that at all.

No electric water heater. Big loads are well pump, 1 window AC unit, washer and drier.

The 100A breakers are not costly.

The trouble is having to pull the meter so someone can work with the wires cold.

The submerged well pump could be failing. A bearing failure can cause a short, phase to ground and trip a breaker. If that is the case, why the smaller amp breaker for the pump (20-30A) did not also trip.

If you have freezers with food in them, having a generator there so you can protect your food if the breakers fail this weekend should be thought about.
post #29 of 32
Thread Starter 
I fixed the problem for now.

Pulled the meter myself. Replaced the 100 amp breaker. The two alum feed lines from the meter were wire brushed and coated with Nolox.

Now I can run every item in the house at once and not trip the 100 amp breaker.

I think it was a bad breaker, or the dirty connection on the feed lines. Still plan on cleaning the panel up, but atleast the main problem has been resolved.
post #30 of 32
Doug, was either wire warm? Just slightly different temp from the other?

Do you have an AMP meter?

Do you know the size of the wires feeding your meter? (it should be written on them)

Are you planning on getting it fixed, so any dummy walking up to your panel will have the ability to turn your power off in an emergency? That is really important ya know.


Good going on replacing your breaker.

Now you have some time to plan your repair.
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