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Electrical breaker melted?

Old 03-09-08, 02:31 PM
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Electrical breaker melted?

Has anyone ever seen a breaker melt, rather than trip, before? I wonder if this is normal or if I should keep looking for some root cause other than the breaker.

It looks like a 220v 40a breaker (electric oven) in my house was melting rather than tripping. At one point, when flipped on, it pop'd, cracked, and puffed some smoke but didn't trip.

I've replaced the breaker with a new one, and it seems ok now. The wiring still looks good, the insulation seems fine, and it looks the proper gauge (8ga.) The rest of the box/breakers look ok.

I've personally seen a DC fuse burn, but I don't think I've ever heard of an AC breaker not tripping.

And, no, I doubt I'm going to call an electrician unless someone thinks something else is going on.
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Old 03-09-08, 02:51 PM
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Sounds like the breaker was defective. How long was in place before the incident? Has it ever tripped before? How long has the new one been in place? I wouldn't worry as long as the new one does OK. But if the new one starts trippin' (that's punny), time to seek professional help.
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Old 03-09-08, 02:53 PM
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When a circuit breaker finally decides to give up the magic smoke, it wil trip and then burn out when you flip it back on. Keep an eye on it, but I feel that it was just a breaker about to go bad.

-voice of experience.
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Old 03-09-08, 02:56 PM
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Hmmm, ok. I had assumed that a failing breaker would simply trip, like a GFCI that had not been reset. A breaker failing in a way that renders it useless in doing it's job seems ... a little counterproductive to me.

The old one had been in use at least 10 years; it was there when I bought the house. The new ones been in place for about 30 minutes.
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Old 03-09-08, 03:34 PM
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So it melted, but still allowed juice to flow to the oven?

That isn't good. Do you knw what the load the oven is, is it using too much current for the breaker rating?

There is a chance that the amount of current wasn't enough to trip the breaker, more more than it was rated for. I would think most breakers are fast blow, to protect against short circuits and electrocution, and less slow blow for "slight" overloads.
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Old 03-09-08, 03:35 PM
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Just what HAVE you been cooking?
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Old 03-09-08, 07:34 PM
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40a? isnt that a bit high? is the stove really rated that high?
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Old 03-09-08, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by jonw9
There is a chance that the amount of current wasn't enough to trip the breaker, more more than it was rated for. I would think most breakers are fast blow, to protect against short circuits and electrocution, and less slow blow for "slight" overloads.
this is why its common practice to use a breaker slightly lower than what the appliance is rated for.. so that it trips at the first sign of trouble, rather than doing something much more damaging.
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Old 03-09-08, 09:33 PM
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What brand of panel do you have? Some suck mightily.
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Old 03-10-08, 09:10 AM
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Originally Posted by twikoff
40a? isnt that a bit high? is the stove really rated that high?
Amps X Volts = Watts

Look on the oven for the info and it's easy to figure. It really depends on whether its 208v or 120v as to the wattage.

It's more likely 208v x 40amps = 8320 watts. Not out of line or really odd. Keep in mind that this is maximum. It's more likely running somewhere around 5000 watts for regular use.
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