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mountaintop

10:52AM | 01/08/07
Member Since: 01/07/07
1 lifetime posts
Bvelectrical
One of the main thick black wires feeding my service panel from the meter is very warm to the touch and is in turn warming the whole breaker box. or vice versa.

Over the past few months a couple of circuit breakers have tripped. I reset them and all is well for a while. The wiring of these circuits is OK I think and they seem to trip while not even under a load.

If I feel the main wire several inches down towards the bottom of the box (and toward the meter), it is not warm.

This is a 200 amp service, but is warm even when there is nowhere near that much in use.

I have tried tightening all the connections inside the box.

Is it possible that the brand (Federal Pacific Electric Stablock) or age (25+ years) is the culprit?

Is is possible to replace the innards and breakers of the box itself so I don't have to tear the wall apart?

Thanks for any insight.

Tom O

11:15AM | 01/08/07
Member Since: 09/17/02
477 lifetime posts
FPE has a very poor reputation amongst electricians.

The heat could be coming from a loose connection to the breaker, loose connection breaker to busbar or bad contacts inside the breaker.

Consult an electrician soon to determine the cause. Chances are, you're headed for a new breaker box.

If the panel is installed in a wood frame wall with drywall finish, a skilled electrician can usually change out the panel with minimal damage to the drywall. There may be conditions at your house that would require some drywall demolition but maybe you will luck out.

Billhart

12:47PM | 01/08/07
Member Since: 04/25/05
1916 lifetime posts
The problem could be at the connection to the breaker. In the main breaker, corrosion on the bus bars connecting the branch breaker. Or corrosion in the wire it'self.

And of these can end up causing a fire and needs to be fixed.

Cutler Hammer has a retro fit panel and covers.

http://www.cutler-hammer.eaton.com/unsecure/cms1/TD00308001E.PDF

I suspect that will be a special order item and many supply house won't know about it.
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