Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel - Electrical - Contractor Talk

Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel

 
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Old 02-10-2011, 11:47 PM   #1
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Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel


So my mother-in-law is selling her house and the home inspector found a scorched contact on the main rail of her breaker panel. To her knowledge, she's had one electrician come into her home ever, and she's owned the property since it was new. The electrician came to install some outlets in her basement about 10 years back.

Side Note: Now I don't know if it's legit, but the romex was run along the bottoms of the floor joists and then directly into the open end of a vertical piece of EMT (no junction box or wire clamp fitting) and then to a box at the bottom. Can anyone confirm if this is legitimate? My gut tells me it's sloppy at best, and a code violation at worst.

As of now, I'm assuming that either the installing electrician, or the intermediary simply shorted something like their screwdriver on the rail, most likely the intermediary because the system probably wouldn't have been live while being wired initially. That said, I have two questions:

1. Are there odd phenomena like lightning that can cause part of the rail to get shorted like that?

2. The slot is not being used and there are 6 other vacant slots on the panel. The rail itself is undamaged, and only the contact shows damage. Should something like this prevent the sale of the home, or is it not critical?

3. The contact is attached to the rail with a non-removable screw (slotted with the reverse direction sheared away.) Is it possible for an electrician to replace the contact, the whole rail or would this require a new panel entirely?

I'll post a picture of it when she emails it to me later, so that you can better diagnose the problem, but I'd love to hear your initial thoughts.
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Old 02-11-2011, 07:56 AM   #2
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Re: Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel


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Originally Posted by Remodelor View Post
So my mother-in-law is selling her house and the home inspector found a scorched contact on the main rail of her breaker panel. To her knowledge, she's had one electrician come into her home ever, and she's owned the property since it was new. The electrician came to install some outlets in her basement about 10 years back.

Side Note: Now I don't know if it's legit, but the romex was run along the bottoms of the floor joists and then directly into the open end of a vertical piece of EMT (no junction box or wire clamp fitting) and then to a box at the bottom. Can anyone confirm if this is legitimate? My gut tells me it's sloppy at best, and a code violation at worst.

As of now, I'm assuming that either the installing electrician, or the intermediary simply shorted something like their screwdriver on the rail, most likely the intermediary because the system probably wouldn't have been live while being wired initially. That said, I have two questions:

1. Are there odd phenomena like lightning that can cause part of the rail to get shorted like that?

2. The slot is not being used and there are 6 other vacant slots on the panel. The rail itself is undamaged, and only the contact shows damage. Should something like this prevent the sale of the home, or is it not critical?

3. The contact is attached to the rail with a non-removable screw (slotted with the reverse direction sheared away.) Is it possible for an electrician to replace the contact, the whole rail or would this require a new panel entirely?

I'll post a picture of it when she emails it to me later, so that you can better diagnose the problem, but I'd love to hear your initial thoughts.
Quote:
Now I don't know if it's legit, but the romex was run along the bottoms of the floor joists and then directly into the open end of a vertical piece of EMT (no junction box or wire clamp fitting) and then to a box at the bottom. Can anyone confirm if this is legitimate? My gut tells me it's sloppy at best, and a code violation at worst
Yes that is a code violation ...the emt should have an emt to romex change over connector..the romex run across the floor joists needs to be supported by strapping or sleaved in pipe..

Quote:
As of now, I'm assuming that either the installing electrician, or the intermediary simply shorted something like their screwdriver on the rail, most likely the intermediary because the system probably wouldn't have been live while being wired initially. That said, I have two questions:



2. The slot is not being used and there are 6 other vacant slots on the panel. The rail itself is undamaged, and only the contact shows damage. Should something like this prevent the sale of the home, or is it not critical?
If the bus bars in the panel are damaged then the best way to fix it is to replace the panel with a new one IMO..

Quote:
1. Are there odd phenomena like lightning that can cause part of the rail to get shorted like that?
There could be water leaking into the panel water can travel along the se cable or even pipe if the penitraition is not sealed correctly.

An over load or a short circuit could allso be the cause..

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Old 02-11-2011, 09:06 PM   #3
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Re: Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel


Ok, here's the photo of the damage. What say ye?
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:09 PM   #4
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Re: Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel


I'm ok with it. I have something similar in my panel and I sleep fine.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:16 PM   #5
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Re: Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel


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I'm ok with it. I have something similar in my panel and I sleep fine.
That's what I'm thinking. The damage simply prevents a breaker from being added at that point, however the other bus bars seem to be intact and the damage seems minimal.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:45 PM   #6
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Re: Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel


Looks like a chicago electric panel, i do not see any problem with that minimal damage. They make really thin breakers for that panel that serve the same purpose as a piggyback so other slots can be used for extra circuits, it appears to have some empties already anyway.
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Old 02-11-2011, 11:46 PM   #7
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Re: Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel


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Looks like a chicago electric panel, i do not see any problem with that minimal damage. They make really thin breakers for that panel that serve the same purpose as a piggyback so other slots can be used for extra circuits, it appears to have some empties already anyway.

GE. It has THQL breakers in it. The little ears are for THQP breakers.

Was there a breaker installed there?

If not, I'd say someone shorted a wire out to ground (or line to line, as there's damage on two busses) in the past and simply left that space unused.
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Old 02-12-2011, 12:01 AM   #8
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Re: Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel


Stupid question.
Does it matter if grounds and neutrals go to the same bar?
I have seen panels wired both ways.
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Old 02-12-2011, 12:03 AM   #9
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Re: Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel


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Stupid question.
Does it matter if grounds and neutrals go to the same bar?
I have seen panels wired both ways.

Depends on if the panel is the first means of disconnect.
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Old 02-12-2011, 12:38 AM   #10
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Re: Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel


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Was there a breaker installed there?

If not, I'd say someone shorted a wire out to ground (or line to line, as there's damage on two busses) in the past and simply left that space unused.
I don't think a breaker was ever installed there, as there aren't any breakers above it on the good slots. I'd buy the line to line short as an explanation.

Would you see this as a reason to replace the entire panel?
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Old 02-12-2011, 12:43 AM   #11
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Re: Scorched Contact Inside Breaker Panel


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........Would you see this as a reason to replace the entire panel?
Nope.

If pressed, I'd find the same panel model and just change the guts out.

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