Breaker did not trip

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by edstevn, Nov 4, 2008.

  1. edstevn

    edstevn New Member

    Messages:
    10
    I had a breaker that did not trip. There was a loose connectionin on a lug, the lug had a darkened color due to the arcing which produced heat. The question I have is why did the breaker not trip?
  2. jar546

    jar546 In the Trades

    Messages:
    432
    Location:
    USA
    Is it a Federal Pacific Stab-Lok panel?

    A loose lug on the breaker could have been a contributing factor.

    Now the breaker needs to be replaced.

    If it was a high amperage breaker, there could be enough heat to cause discoloration on the lugs but not trip due to lack of enough amperage sensed inside the breaker.

    Many possibilities
  3. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Was there a short circuit which SHOULD have caused the breaker to trip? A loose connection can arc under normal current draw. The breaker does not see this as a fault which it should trip/
  4. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,459
    Location:
    MD
    A loose connection can only reduce the current in a circuit, so it's possible there really was not enough amperage to trip the breaker.
    In this case power that is supposed to go into the load goes into heating the bad connection.
  5. edstevn

    edstevn New Member

    Messages:
    10
    It was not Federal Pacific Stab-Lok panel. It was in GE breaker panel.
  6. jwelectric

    jwelectric Electrical Contractor/Instructor

    Messages:
    2,561
    Location:
    North Carolina
    only an arc fault would have tripped
  7. Alectrician

    Alectrician DIY Senior Member

    Messages:
    689
    Standard breakers trip when too much current flows thru them.

    Arcing and burning can easily occur with current flow under it's rated max.
  8. Johnny C

    Johnny C Electrician

    Messages:
    23
    Location:
    Mass. & now Virginia Beach, VA
    Breaker didn't trip

    A faulty connection at the breaker terminal offers resistance to the flow of current thereby limiting the amount of current passing through the breaker. So the breaker doesn't trip due to high current. However, I have investigated instances where the heat generated by the bad connection caused the breaker to trip due to the transfer of heat from the fault into the heat sensing element in the circuit breaker.
  9. edstevn

    edstevn New Member

    Messages:
    10
    Thanks for your advice!
  10. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Messages:
    1,459
    Location:
    MD
    You might want to replace the breaker.
    This is not my field, but I'd think whatever heat treatment, annealing, tempering, etc., the metal of the breaker connector received at the factory, it has certainly been erased.
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