Is this this main panel dangerous?

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Edrrt, Nov 24, 2020.

  1. Edrrt

    Edrrt New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2020
    Location:
    Sonoma
    This connects to the meter above and feeds several breaker panels down stream for an entire ranch (house/ several barns/ pool/ pumps). Some of the legs in the barns are still fused/ knob/ tube.

    I intermittently lose one leg and traced it back to the main box shown. Noncontact voltage sensor indicated voltage on all legs except top left right in from meter. No Amp flow clamped around black.

    Unsure why if there's no voltage top left there would be voltage under it on the other side of the fuse unless it can back feed or ghost voltage. But why wouldn't it register above it too?

    Is it safe to say this is a feed issue on the black leg?

    This setup is idk how old. It has miles of powerline just for this box so lots of places for problems.

    Are these huge main fuse panels dangerous and should this just be upgraded? Is it unsafe to have the door open when the fuses are energized? Can they blow big enough to cause injuries if the panel door is open? Should I not be checking voltage on these things...

    20201123_224323.jpg
     
    Last edited: Nov 24, 2020
  2. Reach4

    Reach4 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Sep 25, 2013
    Location:
    IL
    Non-contact voltage detectors are not the thing to use here. Measuring vs ground can be misleading too.

    A regular voltmeter across a fuse can tell you if the fuse is blown. Voltage across a good fuse will be very low.

    Those fuses are not cheap. This might be a good time to put in a new breaker panel.
     
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  4. fitter30

    fitter30 Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Feb 2, 2020
    Occupation:
    Retired service tech
    Location:
    Peace valley missouri
    Small wires coming off the bottom of the two fuses with the larger are not up to code. With a 175 and 200 amp fuses. Scary! Tag on front cover look at the amp rating.
     
  5. drick

    drick In the Trades

    Joined:
    May 16, 2008
    You have much bigger problems here than a dead feeder. You have a 200 Amp fuse protecting what looks like at best 20 Amp wire. I don't know what the load is on those wires, but in the event of an overload they would go up in flames before that fuse would blow.
     
  6. wwhitney

    wwhitney Well-Known Member

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2019
    Location:
    Berkeley, CA
    The main problem with the multiple wires at the bottom of each fuse is that each terminal is almost certainly only rated for one wire. If that were the only problem, it could be cleaned up by using the appropriate multiport Polaris connectors.

    [Note that all the conductors with ampacity smaller than the fuses would be tap conductors, and so they would have to comply with the relevant tap rules. The principal rule being the distance limitation before landing on an OCPD not exceeding the ampacity of the conductor: 25' for conductors with ampacity at least 1/3 of the fuses, and 10' for conductors with ampacity at least 1/10 of the fuses. The rest of the tap rules I'd have to look up. So if the smaller conductors don't meet the tap requirements, that would be a problem.]

    But the whole disconnect looks aged and I would think is due for replacement. Although that's primarily a preconception, I don't have much experience with that sort of equipment.

    Cheers, Wayne
     
  7. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    Wow, that is dangerous stuff. Just the corrosion alone makes it bad plus what everyone above has stated. Fuses that are too large and it will not protect the wire from overheating and causing a fire. It looks like the safety bar to open the circuit (blades above the fuses) when the door is opened appears to have been hacked. There should be an interlock to that light color bar going across the middle. I wonder what the other boxes or panels look like. Is this to a home or business?
     
  8. Edrrt

    Edrrt New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2020
    Location:
    Sonoma
    _DSC0002[1].JPG

    I think I may have found the trouble point. The wires coming out of the weather head on the side of the building that splice to the power drop just out of frame look like the insulation is toast. It looks like plywood was placed over the exterior wall at some point partially covering the weather head. The metal pipe continues down the interior of the wall on the other side to the meter a few feet below. Then to the main breaker box.

    Is there a possibility it could energize the pipe and electrocute someone touching the breaker box now? Can an electrician redo this or does the power company need to deal with it?

    Seems like failing insulation on these is probably pretty common, since you don't hear about these pipes electrocuting people I'm guessing there;s something that prevents that in it's design? Maybe just the grounding cable?

    Looks to me like the plywood face prob needs to be replaced, along with its connection to the drop, weather head, and main panel. Drop from the pole looks ok. Trying to decide how to deal with this, electric co or electrician first. But am I right thinking this is urgent?

    As for the smaller wires spliced into the lower half of the main, the do go directly to their own breakers about a foot away, don't know if that helps keep them from being overloaded?
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2020
  9. Edrrt

    Edrrt New Member

    Joined:
    Jun 1, 2020
    Location:
    Sonoma

    It's an old ranch from the 1850's. It's a mix of old and new. You have brand new breaker panels, right next to old knob and tube. In come cases they are plumbed togeather. It's bazare. I can't even figure out what supplies what because of all the crisscrossing tie ins.

    Here are two 220 pumps wired in to two hot legs.

    20201206_125712.jpg

    Is this normal/ safe for that period? Most of these wires are bare copper at this point.

    Since it's been this way for prob 60+ years and none of these barns have burned down I'm guessing it can't be that dangerous. But it sure looks scary.

    Since it's all exposed my plan is to prob just cut it and leave it, then run romex or ?
     
  10. WorthFlorida

    WorthFlorida The wife is still training me.

    Joined:
    Oct 28, 2009
    Occupation:
    Retired
    Location:
    Orlando, Florida
    Everything from the mast to your property if it is an overhead you own it. You own the meter box but the power company owns the meter. Generally anything to the meter the power company I'll repair but not necessarily replace. This may vary around the country as they have determined if it's safe. If they find it's not, they may disconnect.

    It all looks bad and dangerous. It's a fire waiting to happen. It all needs to go but you said it is a barn, some local jurisdictions require conduit or metallic cable. Animals and varmites can chew on the wire. You need to get a local electrician to look it over and get his take on it. This forum is really not and can not be a final answer. Too many variables are in play. Be safe.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2020
    fitter30 likes this.
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