need some help, home wiring
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  1. #1
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    Jun 2008
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    New Plymouth ID
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    need some help, home wiring

    I have a 4 hole 400 amp meter box on my house I have no idea why it was done that way but i haven't changed it Im running a hot tub and a central air system off of one meter base with 100 amps so a hundred amp switch at the meter and 2 50s and a 20 in the basement in a sub panel. Im getting tripping at the meter i have turned off all but 1 50 amp and am still getting tripping but it usually takes a while so I haven't seen it actually trip on the amp gauge. I have used an amp gauge turning on each breaker and the amp draw is well below 100 with all 3 in the sub panel on and running I did see an 87 amp momentary draw when something turned on but that flipped the 20 amp sub panel breaker. so is it possible my 100 amp switch by the meter has got bad? or where do I start? the electricians here dont want to mess with this old box but Im not wanting to spend the money to go to a single meter box right now, have to fix the house siding if i did change it
    Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

  2. #2
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    Dec 2008
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    Lockhart,Tx (BBQ capitol of the world)
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    Circuit breakers do go bad sometimes.
    Each time the trip they get a little bit weaker.
    Usually I don't like throwing parts at something as a trouble shooting method but this may be one of those times.
    Try a new circuit breaker, cheap and easy, relatively speaking!

  3. #3
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    Apr 2017
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    Long Island, NY
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    Get the breaker at a big box store. If it doesn't work return it.
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  4. #4
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    Bad neutral on a 120 side ?

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Mar 2015
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    207

    Re: need some help, home wiring

    If replacing the breaker doesn't correct the problem,central air would be a strong suspect. It might have a weak capacitor,fan motor on it's last leg,compressor with bad windings,loose/corroded connection(high or low volt). Sadly,75% of hvac techs are lost when it come's to intermittent problems. That being the case,try http:///www.supplyhouse.com/Supco-SP...f7bd23793cc937 It's easy to install and the first thing repairmen install. The remaining issues aren't that simple and require a systematic approach using your multimeter and amp guage.

  6. #6
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    Jun 2008
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    New Plymouth ID
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    all right I pulled the cover off I had some decent heat in here Im getting a new breaker, but I might something else going on?
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    Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Apr 2019
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    PNW
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    94

    Re: need some help, home wiring

    Definitely some heat damage on that breaker, and the bus insulation. Like said above, try replacing the breaker.

    When you have the breaker out give the bus a good looking over to make sure it is not all arced to hell, and makes good contact with the breaker. They sell conductive grease, that also might help. Use just a tiny smear.

    It also wouldn't hurt to vacuum out the panel.
    Just say, Know.

  8. #8
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    Dec 2013
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    Mount Tabor VT
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    They are exposed to weather, If no leakage from above, condensation from underground conduit. They oxidize. Oxide is a poor conductor. It generates heat. Breaker cooks, and usually cooks the buss bar it grips. A new breaker is a short term fix, as the buss bar is also in sad condition.

    Why so many meters? Would one be enough?
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  9. #9
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    years ago previous owner was trying to turn it into a multi person residence after a fire and I haven't switched over to a 200 amp single meter service because of cost and the dealing with the siding on the house. i use 3 meters for the house, electric everything and running the 11 horse pressure washer . I did get some diaelectric grease hope that the right stuff and will change it out this evening and see what happens. if it keeps tripping i guess will bite the bullet and get the meter base changed out
    Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

  10. #10
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    Apr 2019
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    After looking at your pics again, it appears that there are some copper dingle berries on the bus. This is most likely cause by arcing. If the dingles are really bad on the bus where the breaker "stabs" in, they may have to be cleaned off. With the proximity of the two phases this will be pretty dangerous.

    You may have to the the power company come out and pull the meter, to de-energize the bus so it can be worked safely.

    When applying the dielectric grease to the bus, great care should be taken to avoid coming into contact with both phases, or one phase and anything grounded. It may be better to apply a very small amount to the breaker stab only.

    Since you will be working around live parts and there will not be adequate over current protection (the closest over current protection will be at the transformer, in the form of a fuse rated for one thousand+ amps. you will be long dead before that thing trips), you should be wearing your FR welding gear (no synthetic fabrics, including your underwear), leather gloves, leather boots, safety glasses, and a face shield/welding hood. In all honesty neither a face shield nor a welding hood is sufficient to protect against arc flash, but it's better than nothing.

    If you know all this (I do not mean to insult your intelligence), then just think of this as a reminder to keep your head in the game. If this is all news to you, I would consider having a pro do the 11 seconds worth of work. Arc flash resulting in the copper bus turning into a gas, expanding many thousands of times its original size, is no joke.


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    Be safe.
    Just say, Know.

  11. #11
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    Oct 2006
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    I would call utility Electric company first.

  12. #12
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    An electrician will pull the meter, disconnecting power from the busses. If bare copper, they can be cleaned up with fine wet sandpaper. If tin plated, they shouldn't be touched with any abrasive. A new breaker is a short term fix. It occurs to me the charges for multiple meters might be costly.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  13. #13
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    I hate working live lines but i got it done and changed the breaker didnt trip all night. im going to have to change the meter base out. its only a 5 dollar a month meter charge thats why i havent changed it but we will start saving to do it the last quote was 2500 to do it does that sound about right? My power company loves me, because the line frome the pole to the house is to low so its been snagged a time or two usually when thea fter a drenching rain and the pole starts leaning more. There is 3 sub panels scattered throughout the house so that is going to be the fun of a new meter base unles i can get one with breakers in it
    Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

  14. #14
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    I'm glad you were able to get that done safely.

    How did the bus look?

    How did the back of the old breaker look?

    I'm still wondering why you want to change out the meter base? They don't look very old at all. Sure it might not be the normal setup, but other than this tripping problem (hopefully resolved), is it giving you any other trouble?

    $2,500 sounds pretty reasonable to me, but that has a lot to do with location. My buddy in San Francisco just got a quote to change out his main panel, and the contractor came back with $20,000!
    Just say, Know.

  15. #15
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    If you have cellar or back room space, put a service entrance inside. If not, a raintight panel is the solution. There are 200 amp meter sockets equipped with breaker space. I'd expect them to be low volume sellers, and expensive.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  16. #16
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    besides the heat damage in the picture the buss looked good it was the female lugs that looked bad and most of the damage / oxidation on them was on the opposite side of the contacts, the heat when I pulled it was in the middle of the breaker not up by the lugs obviously heats been there though. willie b I did see those, its a process psyching myself into getting something like that done. the power company wants me to raise the mast if I change and that involves dealing with the roof so I have procrastinated..
    Last edited by idacal; 05-19-2019 at 02:35 PM.
    Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

  17. #17
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    Sometimes the dread is worse than the doing. Here, they want 15' above grade for the insulator they hang the ACSR (aluminum conductor steel reinforced). The weather head is to be a foot above that. If more than three feet above the roof, they call for a guy cable. Meter center is to be eye level. If I place it eye level for a very tall man, a ten foot mast is high enough.

    If you already have a hole in your roof, slide a new piece of ten foot, or screw an extension on.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  18. #18
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    Nov 2009
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    If you have a 4 pack you could always abandon the burnt one and use another one.....you said you were only using three....
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  19. #19
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Willie B View Post
    An electrician will pull the meter.
    Depends where you are. We are not allowed to pull a meter (Unisource) and face a fine and prosecution if we open any utility side enclosure or pull a meter. Everything is locked with barrel locks or POCO padlocks.
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  20. #20
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    Jun 2008
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    New Plymouth ID
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    same here as far as I know and there is tattletail clips on the meter side otherwise why not tap above the meter. I like the power guys leaving me alone when I do my own electrical so I try not to do things to antagonize them
    Do not argue with an idiot. He will drag you down to his level and beat you with experience.

  21. #21
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    Mount Tabor VT
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    There are legitimate reasons to pull a meter. Here they don't want Joe Homeowner doing it for a few reasons.

    There is an electrical contractor, years ago he installed a pool. His consumption didn't increase. Power company colored seals weren't then numbered. He'd gotten some from a CVPSC employee, and was using jumpers behind the meter part time. The CVPSC employee got fired, the power thief settled out of court for a lump sum, no criminal prosecution.

    The power company used to supply meter seals to electricians. Ours were a different color, and serial number assigned to an electrician.
    We would pick them up at the CVPSC office.

    Then when security was tightened, 199? they started a new process. I'd call, make my request. Then, when I arrived in the parking lot, I'd call from the truck. Someone who knew me by sight would meet me in the parking lot to give them to me. The process was so cumbersome, we gave up. I now write my name, date, and license number on the face of the meter.
    Last edited by Willie B; 05-20-2019 at 07:28 AM.
    An optimist is usually wrong, and when the unexpected happens is unprepared. A pessimist is usually right, when wrong, is delighted, and well prepared.

  22. #22
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by idacal View Post
    same here as far as I know and there is tattletail clips on the meter side otherwise why not tap above the meter. I like the power guys leaving me alone when I do my own electrical so I try not to do things to antagonize them
    Same here, tattle tales are there for a reason.

    To remove a meter, the powco is called to remove the fuse from transformer that supplies the meter to be pulled so that no power is in meter when pulled. When its reinstalled, meter gets a new tattle tale.

    Idacal, you mention three ? I see two meters in the pic. Are those two phases from three phase power. If so and you decide to do the work (I'd call an electrician) remove both fuses or three so that no power is in that panel if you decide to rework it. Do you have a pic of transformer(s) supplying that panel? One triple phase or two or three single phase transformers?
    Last edited by Insaneride; 05-20-2019 at 10:10 AM.

  23. #23
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    Re: need some help, home wiring

    Quote Originally Posted by Insaneride View Post
    Same here, tattle tales are there for a reason.

    To remove a meter, the powco is called to remove the fuse from transformer that supplies the meter to be pulled so that no power is in meter when pulled. When its reinstalled, meter gets a new tattle tale.

    Idacal, you mention three ? I see two meters in the pic. Are those two phases from three phase power. If so and you decide to do the work (I'd call an electrician) remove both fuses or three so that no power is in that panel if you decide to rework it. Do you have a pic of transformer(s) supplying that panel? One triple phase or two or three single phase transformers?
    If the OP were to post a photo with a wider view, there should be 2 more meter sockets on the right side of the utility compartment (4 gang meter can).

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