Monday, May 27, 2013

Old or obsolete Circuit Breakers

When was the last time you checked the circuit breakers in your home? How old is your home? These are the questions you need to ask yourself. The major concern is safety, since electric fires can start as a result of neglecting the breakers in your panel box. The next concern is how bad breakers can affect your everyday life. Imagine one day you're busy typing up a report for your job when the power goes out and you lose all your work. You check the panel box and one of the breakers have tripped. I had this happen to me a few months back and we'll make sure it doesn't happen to you.

The Demand for more Power

Each year our appliances obtain new features to make our lives more convenient, but the more automation you have in a system the more power it demands. Take a computer CPU or Video card that constantly requires more wattage from the PSU. Imagine you have three PCs and an air conditioner all on one series circuit in the house. This can put a tremendous strain on a single breaker which could cause them to trip and die faster than they should.

What's the solution?

Buy two new breakers and just keep them on standby in case one of your breakers go bad. If you're moving into a new home then replace all the breakers with new ones. This can be costly but you won't have to worry about it in the long run.

AFCI breakers

I'd recommend purchase of AFCI type breakers for your home. Many house fires start from bad or old electrical wiring. These types of breakers specialize in preventing electric fires from old wiring when an instant surge of heat is detected.

The cutler hammer br120caf is a great arc fault breaker that you can purchase. It's more expensive than a normal breaker but well worth the extra cost.

Choosing the right equipment

Just make sure to match the right breaker to the proper panel box by checking the brand.

Panel Board Circuit Breaker requirements

  • Zinsco require type UBIZ breakers.
  • Westinghouse & Bryant panels need Cutler Hammer breakers, BR series.
  • Wadsworth panel boxes take type UBIA or type VPKWB.
  • Square D panel boards take Siemens breakers type QD or Cutler-Hammer type CHQ breakers.
  • Siemens panels take type UBITBC breakers.
  • Pushmatic panel box take type UBIP breakers.
  • Federal Pacific Electric panels take type UBIFN.
  • Challenger panel boards take type UBITBC and UBITBA breakers or cutler-hammer BR series breakers.


As always if you're not sure how to replace a circuit breaker properly, contact your local electrician to perform the service for you.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Let's take a look at the Cutler Hammer - Westinghouse BAB3020HS circuit breaker.

I recently bought a reconditioned BAB3020HS from all electric needs inc.  When I initially received it I was surprised at its condition despite it being used.  I installed this roughly four weeks ago and everything has been working optimally so far.   What surprised me is that these guys actually offered me free ground shipping despite the price being very competitive already.  I was a bit skeptic at first but fortunately everything came through perfectly. I even got my shipment ahead of schedule which was nice.

This circuit breaker weighs about three pounds. Here are some of its specifications:

- 20 Amp
- 240 Volt
- 3 Pole with a shunt trip
- Is thermal magnetic
- Rate interruption is 10000
- Mounting Bolt
- BAB series

Installing cutler hammer circuit breakers is always a smooth process. If you ever need access to the technical specifications you can access them from this pdf here.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

What is a circuit breaker? How do I maintain and clean one? Do I need to replace it?

First off, what is a circuit breaker?

We can check Wikipedia for more information:

Short Version: Circuit breakers are responsible for regulating amps that flow within an electric system. The circuit breaker trips in case there is some kind of power surge. This ensures that the surge doesn't melt and destroy electrical wires which may also result in a possible fire. Like any other component or part, circuit breakers need to be maintained and cleaned for optimal performance. In general every circuit breaker varies in design but ultimately you can still apply these cleaning techniques.

1. Dirty Circuit Breakers

The problem with a dirty circuit breaker is the risk of power fluctuations, outage, electrical spikes or power fluctuations which can increase electric costs. There's also the risk of blowing a fuse, unexplained drop in current or electrical fire. Before cleaning a circuit breaker you should take a few precautions when opening the electric panel since the wires contain a large flow of amps.

2. Play it Safe

You've got to make safety your first priority. You'll be standing on a grounding mat that you've placed in front of the circuit breaker. Stand on this mat the entire time! Make sure the grounding wrist band is wrapped securely around your wrist and ensure the power is off before starting to clean. I always work with a grounding mat before doing this type of work and you should too.

3. Panel Removal

In most cases you'll be dealing with four screws which you'll carefully place on the side. Make sure to remember where these screws are. Don't be afraid to work the circuit breaker slightly in order to loosen it up. Never use the screwdriver to take the panel off. Once the panel is off set it aside some place out of the way.

4. Cleaning the Circuit Breaker

You should be able to see all the parts inside the panel box. Note the wires leading to the switches and beneath the contacts. See any dirt? Use a cotton swab and isopropyl alcohol to rub over the dirty areas. Look at the wires one by one and where they connect to. Do you see any discoloration or greening? Clean one wire at a time by unscrewing the contact and cleaning it with isopropyl alcohol, now replace it where it was.

NOTE: The tarnish might still be there as a result of oxidation which is normal.

Work one wire at a time by unscrewing the contact and cleaning it with the isopropyl alcohol, then replacing it where it was. Continue doing this until the dirt on the end of the wires is cleaned off.

5. Actual Circuit Breaker

WARNING: Never touch the electric wiring until you're 100% sure that there is no electricity running through it.

If applicable check for a test position on the circuit breaker. Make sure it's switched to test mode. Ensure that you're properly grounded with the grounding mat and that there is no power running through the system. Double check and triple check again. Before removing the breaker take a minute to remember how it's been placed and fitted. Now go ahead and remove the breaker from it's container. Use a clean towel or cloth and start wiping away the gunk from the breaker, any contacts, bushings and switch. Once it's clean switch the circuit breaker from test mode back into it's original setting.

I like to wait until the circuit breaker is completely dry from the damp cloth (used with isopropyl alcohol) I used before putting it back in so I wait about thirty to forty minutes before putting the breaker back in.

6. Does your circuit breaker need replacing?

If the circuit breaker is old and dirty and you suspect something doesn't look right, it may need replacing especially if it's tripping intermittently. If this is the case you can get a replacement at . Email them a photo of the breaker if need be. I like using this company since they always match competitor prices and don't rush me over the phone. They're based in southern California and work on a national level in the USA but also ship to Canada.

However if your circuit breaker looks fine after cleaning and isn't tripping intermittently then you can safely put it back in its place.

7. Wrapping it up

Put the cover back on and make sure to use all the screws you removed originally before you turn the power back on. Check and double check your work.

Friday, April 26, 2013

New blog devoted as a guide for Circuit Breaker Care

Hey everyone, I'm making this new blog that will help people with taking care of Circuit Breakers in general. Google has been having some problems lately so before I add anything more to this blog I want to make sure it doesn't get deleted. Thanks for checking in! Check out these forums as well.