Circuit breakers offer protection. An overheated circuit can cause a lot of problems, including destroying wiring and causing fires. If a breaker malfunctions, it may not trip, leaving an overheating circuit open and live.
If an overload happens, the malfunctioning circuit breaker can burn and it may even damage your panel box and cause it to burn. This can become a very expensive problem. But homeowners can do a few things to help ensure that their panel box and the mechanical devices are safe.
o Go to the circuit breaker panel, if you notice a burning odor, buzzing and/or if you touch the surface of the breakers and any of them are hot, you could have a problem and a potential burned circuit breaker.
o As breakers age, they can wear out. If you have older panel box or sub panel, especially those made by Zinsco, GTE or Federal Pacific, it's a good idea to have them checked.
o If you notice any signs of wear-and-tear around the panel box or of overheating or fire, then call an electrician immediately.
Commonly, circuit breakers have a maximum heat capacity at the contact point with the buzz bar of about 104-degrees Fahrenheit. But breakers that aren't working right can reach temperatures of close to 160-degrees. That's a dangerous situation.
If you notice any of the signs mentioned in this article, you could potentially have a problem in the sub panel or meter box. The best course of action if you have any questions or concerns is to be safe and call an electrician who is trained in evaluating and fixing this type of problem.
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