Pushmatic circuit breaker

Discussion in 'Electrical Forum discussion & Blog' started by Ford2001, Sep 19, 2009.

  1. Ford2001

    Ford2001 New Member

    Sep 11, 2009
    property care taker
    Manchester, Vermont
    My uncle pass away some time ago, but he did everything for my
    Aunt, which included the wiring in there home.

    I believe someone was getting ride a pushmatic circuit breaker panel,
    and my uncle grab it to use in his house, which had an existing fuse
    panel. So he took it and install it replacing the house fuse panel box.

    Now my Aunt calls me and tell me she having problem with her electric
    storage hot water tank, system. Could I come up and look at it.

    I check the thermostate's on the tank, both set way to high,. like
    140. So move then back to 120 for both upper and lower.

    I go look at the house electrical, and there a pushmatic circuit breaker
    panel, with more then six throw, and no main. But it's grounded to a
    metal water pipe cominig in from the street.

    There is no, P230 pushmatic in the panel. But there is a #10 wire White
    and a #10 wire Black.

    I notice this type of panel has no split bus. Phase A, left side, Phase B
    right side. And these breaker are bolted right onto the phase bus that
    run vetical, adjacent to the each circuit breaker.

    This how my uncle wired it. The white wire, was attach to a 30 A,
    S/P breaker on phase A, the Black wire was attach to a 20 A. S/P
    breaker on phase B.

    Once a day, my Aunt told me, she would have to go down into the base-
    ment, and reset the 30 A. pushmatic breaker.

    I would have thought the 20 A. pushmatic breaker located on phase B
    would be the one that would, trip.

    I said to her lets get rid of this piece of garbage, and install a modern
    brand. But she cry, I can't afford to pay, okay just pay for the panel,
    I can't afford that. Well I love my Aunt, but she got four grow children,
    I think they could very well pay for this.

    But, my real question is why is it, that the 30 A. breaker connected to
    Phase A. the one that always trips and not the 20 A. breaker connected
    to Phase B.

    JUST CURIOUS, this inquiring mind wants to know.

    One last fact, there is a lot of rust on this old electrical panel.
    The neutral/ground bar doesn't look so good.
    The basement has a dirt floor, and in the spring, it flood about a foot,
    before the sump pump, turns on.
  2. Thatguy

    Thatguy Homeowner

    Aug 27, 2008
    A bounty hunter like in "Raising Arizona"
    Post what you believe to be the schematic of the 240v/120v power supplying this heater.

    I suppose if the heating elements are center tapped the 30A could trip all by itself due to a fault.

    The trip curves for each CB could also be different.

    There are also simple checks to test your whole house elec. system, which I recommend you do.
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  4. Ford2001

    Ford2001 New Member

    Sep 11, 2009
    property care taker
    Manchester, Vermont
    Pushmatic breakers and the electric water tank


    "I suppose the heater element are center tapped the 30 A could
    trip by itself." Sorry but you lost me, with the statement.

    this house has a electric storage hot water tank, has two
    elements, they heat the water inside the tank.

    The top element turn on first, and when it's satisfied, Phase A 120 V.
    is switch off, and this 120 V. Phase A is then sent to the lower element.

    As you my know, some electric hot water heater only switch one leg
    of the the 240 volt circuit. The other leg is a shunt circuit, that
    carries 120 volt, to both the upper and lower element.

    Both upper and lower element were working, this know because I check

    It just bugs that the 120 V. Phase B, pushmatic breaker doesn't trip.
    It always seen to be the Phase A, pushmatic breaker that does trip.

    May be the upper element control is faulty. But I am only guessing here.

    Last edited: Sep 19, 2009
  5. hj

    hj Moderator & Master Plumber Staff Member

    Aug 31, 2004
    Cave Creek, Arizona

    REPAIR the water heater and forget about the panel, although a two pole breaker would be nice. If the 30 amp side of an element is burned out it will trip, but the 20 amp side could still operate at 120v and keep heating the water on a limited basis.
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