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#12029 - 07/30/02 08:21 AM Breaker Box Hide-n-Seek
mamills Offline
Registered: 11/30/01
Posts: 745
Loc: Wharton, Texas, USA
Got a call Sunday afternoon from friend of mine, asking me for help with an electrical problem at his home. Several lights and electric rects. suddenly "stopped working". Asking him to check his circuit breaker panel, he told me "the main switch is still on". I tried to explain to him briefly that his electrical system is a little more involved than that, and that he needed to check the breaker panel inside the house. After telling me that he was unable to find said panel, I went to visit him.

After checking the usual locations (garage, laundry room, closets, etc.) and also finding nothing, I decided to check the attic. Once there, I found the main SE cable from the meter, and the homeruns from the various other circuits, then located the point at which all these guys disappeared into a wall cavity. The wall in question separated the dining room from the family room. Dining room wall showed nothing (kinda nice) but the entire wall of the family room consisted of built-in bookcases. After unloading several dozen books and nicknacks from shelves, we discovered one small area in the panelling that didn't quite line up properly. Yeh, you guessed it...removing two shelves and the panel revealed a nice SqD panel, neatly hidden away literally for years from my friend...kinda amazing that he lived in this house for five years without having to restore a tripped breaker.

I guess this kind of weird thing happens to everyone from time to time. Anyone else care to share any experiences?

Mike (mamills)
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#12030 - 07/30/02 09:08 AM Re: Breaker Box Hide-n-Seek
poppa Bill Offline
Junior Member
Registered: 01/14/02
Posts: 4
Loc: Medicine Hat Alberta Canada
Hi mamills---- Been there done that.
A lot of older houses been rewired covered up j,b's and old fuse panels used as j,b's.
I had to look outside a house and determin where the old meter was. Then tell the home owner the wall would have to be opened up, lucky it was paneling or you would sure hate to be wrong. I was right there was old fuse box covered up. :]Bill
#12031 - 07/30/02 11:23 AM Re: Breaker Box Hide-n-Seek
pauluk Offline
Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7520
Loc: Norfolk, England
The house I just finished a couple of weeks ago had a sub-panel hidden behind an electric range.
#12032 - 07/30/02 11:51 AM Re: Breaker Box Hide-n-Seek
derater Offline
Registered: 03/30/02
Posts: 179
2 weeks ago fed garage sub panel from main behind 36" medicine chest w/light-the whole thing had to come down-an uncles remodel idea I think.
#12033 - 07/30/02 02:04 PM Re: Breaker Box Hide-n-Seek
sparky Offline
Registered: 10/18/00
Posts: 5303
even more benign, someone hung a picture over a sub at a huge office building, took me
hours to find it.......
#12034 - 07/30/02 04:04 PM Re: Breaker Box Hide-n-Seek
ElectricAL Offline
Registered: 10/10/01
Posts: 597
Loc: Minneapolis, MN USA
Awhile back, I had an airline pilot and his family as clients. They had been in an historic St. Paul house on the edge of the high limestone bluff of the Mississippi River for a year or so and were fixing up the place. I was called in when they couldn't figure out how to turn off some of the circuits.

The circuit breaker panel had a lot of green TW conductors indiscriminatly used for 15 and 20 amp branch circuit hot and neutral, but they didn't show up at the j-boxes out on the circuit. I finally found the panelled over original fuse center 6" to the side of the CB panel, all the fuse blocks removed and the green TW soldered onto the ends of the old branch circuit homeruns. But this still didn't account for the three circuits that stayed hot even when the service disconnect was open.

Then I found the well house (well house? in inner city St. Paul?!!). There was a rusted solid 5 HP 3Ø motor in it! The starter had voltage in it. I then located a second underground service, behind batt insulation on the basement wall, entering the building's opposite side from the 100 A 120/ 240 1Ø. 30A 240V 3Ø 3 wire. This underground 3Ø service came from a little open delta bank half way down the bluff and over a ¼ mile from the xformer feeding the 1Ø.

Some yahoo had picked up the neutral off the 1Ø service and put the two legs of the 3Ø that kinda measured 120V back into duty!
Al Hildenbrand
#12035 - 07/30/02 04:47 PM Re: Breaker Box Hide-n-Seek
George Corron Offline
Registered: 05/16/01
Posts: 717
Loc: Lorton, Va USA
LONG ago, when I was an apprentice, we got a call to a theatre in old Middleburg, VA. Marguee had tripped, a tragedy for a theatre. We spent 4-5 hours crawling around in very tight OLD attics in 95 degree heat and could not find anything. I couldn't stand the heat and opened the window out into the street for some air.

The Journeyman I was working with came up and said it looked like a trap door in the center of the marquee, yup, an old fuse box in the center, any yup, guess who had to crawl out into a 40 year old marguee, wiggle down into it and replace the fuse.

Maybe it ain't such a bad thing I'm just too wide and stiff to get there nowadays
#12036 - 07/30/02 06:31 PM Re: Breaker Box Hide-n-Seek
HotLine1 Offline

Registered: 04/03/02
Posts: 6778
Loc: Brick, NJ USA
One of the best I found, a few years an American Legion Building..
Had a "partial outage" call, late in the day.
Checked all the cb's in the three Sq D panels, nothing, checked for a "bad cb".nothing..searched for about an hour. Decided to look for a bad splice, to no avail.
Standing in the center hallway, second floor, frustrated and kicked the baseboard.
Well, would you believe there was a six (6) circuit plug fuse panel built into the baseboard. Nice carp job, all mitered and nice cuts. Well, it turned out to be a blown 15 amp plug fuse. (We returned the next day to rework the circuits and put in a sub-panel)
#12037 - 07/30/02 09:27 PM Re: Breaker Box Hide-n-Seek
wirewiz Offline
Registered: 01/27/02
Posts: 122
Loc: WA.
This one is not as good as some already posted but I had to laugh! At a local coffee shop spent an hour or so searching for a loose connection in a j-box fed from another panel and was getting really frustrated I knew something was missing. I needed to clear my mind and bladder so I went to use the restroom. Walked in closed the door and removed my tool belt. Hung it over the stall door and as I was taking care of business something fell out of my pouch, I leaned over (after I was finished)to pick it up and caught a loadcenter door out of the corner of my eye under the sink! Yup, the previous owner moon-lighted as a doityourselfer lots of funny wiring in that place.

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