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#39868 - 07/05/04 03:13 PM Semiannual breaker cycling
Sir Arcsalot Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/03
Posts: 117
Loc: Lynden, Washington
I heard some years ago that it was a good thing to cycle off-on your circuit breakers in a residential lighting/appliance panelboard every six months or so to help minimize oxidation buildup, etc.- has anyone else heard of this? It makes sense to me but, as always, there are drawbacks too.
It does make it convenient to re-set your digital clocks at Daylight Savings/Standard Time changes

I've been doing this for quite some time now, though I do try to ensure there is minimal loading on the entire panelboard when I do this (failures do happen). I'm always especially leery of that nice big breaker that says "MAIN"- if it failed creating a bolted-short condition it could say "MAIM" instead...! LOTSA arc current available!!!

Any advice yea or nay would be appreciated as I am quite curious all of a sudden. Thank you in advance.
_________________________
No wire bias here- I'm standing on neutral ground.

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#39869 - 07/05/04 03:43 PM Re: Semiannual breaker cycling
aland Offline
Member

Registered: 05/20/04
Posts: 187
Loc: United Kingdom
Sounds very sensible to me after all a circuit breaker is a mechanicle device as well as electrical and its nice to know that after twenty years of sitting in the on position it can actually move to off...
Only the other day came across a standard 300amp fuse switch that could not be switched off. No bad contacts just settled into the on position and did not want to move. Had to spend a full half hour coaxing it to operate. In an emergency situation that would not have been good. Yes Sir Arc, Im with you shed some load and do a functional test every now and then.

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#39870 - 07/05/04 04:31 PM Re: Semiannual breaker cycling
chi spark Offline
Member

Registered: 01/06/04
Posts: 102
Loc: Chicago IL USA
IMHO, it definitely is necessary to operate disconnects regularly when they are unloaded. On larger commercial services-1200A and up- we perform switchgear maintenance annually, which amounts to a controlled power down, clean and check all distribution disconnects. About two weeks prior, I do a visual on all connections for corrosion and possible necessary replacements in order to have mat'ls on hand for shutdown. Mostly happens on overnight, but I haven't had any complaints about price yet. There's also interest from computer, telephone, generator, and server companies to be involved so they can perform any maintenance. I have come upon big vac-breaks that feel as they would fail before you could get enough force to open them, and, what really frightens more, can you get it to operate(close) again?

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#39871 - 07/05/04 06:18 PM Re: Semiannual breaker cycling
Lostazhell Offline
Member

Registered: 02/21/04
Posts: 1248
Loc: Bakersfield, CA (Originally Or...
Ive as well heard this.. One place was the breaker house I frequent... Dust & grime tends to harden the grease inside the breakers over time & can cause them to be hard to open, or hard to close once opened, occasionally failing to close again (especially Pushmatics) They call it "exercising" the breaker.. I've come across old disconnects that were rusted to the point the handle wouldn't move period! & had to call the poco to kill service People don't seem to worry about things like this until it stops working..

-Randy

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#39872 - 07/05/04 09:27 PM Re: Semiannual breaker cycling
SolarPowered Offline
Member

Registered: 07/05/04
Posts: 615
Loc: Palo Alto, CA, USA
I went to shut off the main breaker when we were remodeling our kitchen, I discovered that the main breaker was frozen in the "ON" position!! Yikes!

On the bright side, I found that I could get a new main-breaker/bus assembly that had several more positions, for the same box. (It was a 12/20, or something like that, and I could get a 20/20 that used the same enclosure. I don't like tandems.)

I note that this was an outdoor, "raintite" installation. I have a suspicion that this wouldn't have happened if it had been indoors.

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#39873 - 07/07/04 02:52 PM Re: Semiannual breaker cycling
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
I certainly think it's a good idea. Problem is that the majority of people don't do anything on their electrical system until an emergency occurs, by which time it's too late.

Let's not forget that main water shut-off either. How many times have you found one of those that obviously hasn't been touched in years and needs penetrating oil and a pair of Vise-Grips to turn it?

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#39874 - 07/08/04 06:33 PM Re: Semiannual breaker cycling
DougW Offline
Member

Registered: 06/08/03
Posts: 1083
Loc: North Chicago, IL
 Quote:
Originally posted by pauluk:

Let's not forget that main water shut-off either. How many times have you found one of those that obviously hasn't been touched in years and needs penetrating oil and a pair of Vise-Grips to turn it?


And the shut offs under your sinks and toilet too.. often forgotten until sh*t (Err, I mean stuff ) happens, and then the handle falls off, the valve jams, spring a leak, whatever...

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#39875 - 07/08/04 07:44 PM Re: Semiannual breaker cycling
Sir Arcsalot Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/03
Posts: 117
Loc: Lynden, Washington
Speaking of water shut-offs, that's exactly why I shut my water off at the curb using a curb key whenever something needs servicing! I DO NOT trust those little dinky valves under the sinks and behind the toilets!!!!!

Plumbing scares the living daylights out of me but electrical work does not (though I most certainly respect it).
_________________________
No wire bias here- I'm standing on neutral ground.

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#39876 - 07/08/04 10:43 PM Re: Semiannual breaker cycling
Lostazhell Offline
Member

Registered: 02/21/04
Posts: 1248
Loc: Bakersfield, CA (Originally Or...
Sir Arcsalot wrote:
 Quote:
Plumbing scares the living daylights out of me but electrical work does not (though I most certainly respect it)


Funny... A plumber was telling me the exact opposite on a job a week ago I tried to do a little plumbing work long ago & it ended with me purchasing a large shop vac to deal with the consequences

-Randy

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#39877 - 07/09/04 06:01 AM Re: Semiannual breaker cycling
pauluk Offline
Member

Registered: 08/11/01
Posts: 7693
Loc: Norfolk, England
The individual shut-off valves have only y become common here in recent years. Most older properties don't have them. Add to that the antiquated system of a cistern in the attic, and you find that in many cases you need to shut off the main and drain that cistern right down to change the washer on a bath tap!

 Quote:
Funny... A plumber was telling me the exact opposite on a job a week ago

My local plumber with whom I've worked on many jobs also says the same thing! Different strokes, I guess.

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