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#530 - 02/07/01 12:56 PM FPE Panel and burnt wires...no brainer right?
sparky66wv Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/00
Posts: 2339
Loc: West Virginia
Got a service call complaining about burning wires that feed baseboard heaters. I asked on the phone what brand of panel she had and sure enough, FPE. But got to thinking, what's getting the wires hot in the first place? A new panel and CB's would trip under the same load, so what else is going on? Got to find it and fix it...

Customer isn't too happy about the panel change with new breakers and an inspection fee on top of it before the PoCo puts her back online.

Will have to replace the feeders to the heaters, but I don't understand what's causing the overload in the first place, protected or not...

Any clues guys?
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-Virgil
Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

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#531 - 02/07/01 01:22 PM Re: FPE Panel and burnt wires...no brainer right?
resqcapt19 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/10/00
Posts: 2209
Loc: IL
Sparky,
The most common cause of excessive heat on a fixed load is a poor connection of some type. This could be where the breaker connects to the buss, where the wire connects to the breaker, or even inside the breaker itself.
Don(resqcapt19)
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Don(resqcapt19)

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#532 - 02/07/01 02:15 PM Re: FPE Panel and burnt wires...no brainer right?
Bill Addiss Offline
Member

Registered: 10/07/00
Posts: 4196
Loc: NY, USA
'66

I'm with Don on this one all the way. Assuming no short/overload and failure to trip, it is most definitely a loose connection somewhere.

Bill

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#533 - 02/07/01 02:41 PM Re: FPE Panel and burnt wires...no brainer right?
Tom Offline
Member

Registered: 01/01/01
Posts: 1069
Loc: Shinnston, WV USA
FPE seems to be universally despised. Most of the time, the breakers fall out when you take the cover off the box.

My experiance has been that some FPE breakers will not trip even when you tkae a wire from the load terminal to the neutral bar & turn the breaker on.

Chances are, once you replace this mess with another panelboard, there should be no more overheating problems.

If you haven't priced FPE replacements lately, you're going to be in for a shock. One breaker will cost you about 25% of what a cheap 200 amp panel costs & almost 50% of the cost of a cheap 100 amp panel.

Tom
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#534 - 02/07/01 04:20 PM Re: FPE Panel and burnt wires...no brainer right?
sam Offline
Member

Registered: 01/02/01
Posts: 29
sparky, ran into a problem last weekend like
yours by the way it sounds. a baseboard heater was smelling. the lady said she had never had a problem in 24 years. checked the heater and found a loose connection on a incoming conducter it was glowing and wire nut had melted. loose connection is really something to look for.

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#535 - 02/07/01 04:21 PM Re: FPE Panel and burnt wires...no brainer right?
sparky66wv Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/00
Posts: 2339
Loc: West Virginia
Talked her into replacing the whole works, $167 for a GE panel and breakers...plus installation.

Told her I'd check all the feeders and jumpers visible for damage and replace as neccesary. I'll also check for the loose connections.

Just wanted to be sure that the heaters themselves don't have hidden dangers that I'm unaware of...

Thanks guys...
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-Virgil
Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

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#536 - 02/08/01 07:29 AM Re: FPE Panel and burnt wires...no brainer right?
doc Offline
Member

Registered: 11/25/00
Posts: 119
Loc: Texas
will not disagree on changing panel,but what I would find out first is how long has unit been in service,have they changed any wiring {replaced} or connectors or ends in the heater.Is it possible that the heater is pulling more amps than the wire can handle. example a blow dryer will really heat up a 15 ampcircuit
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#537 - 02/08/01 08:10 AM Re: FPE Panel and burnt wires...no brainer right?
resqcapt19 Offline
Member

Registered: 11/10/00
Posts: 2209
Loc: IL
Doc,
What do you consider hot? You have to remember that when you load a conductor to its full allowable ampacity it will run at its rated temperature. 60? 140? 140°F feels hot to most people.
Don(resqcapt19)
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Don(resqcapt19)

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#538 - 02/09/01 06:56 AM Re: FPE Panel and burnt wires...no brainer right?
sparky66wv Offline
Member

Registered: 11/17/00
Posts: 2339
Loc: West Virginia
After further inspection, I discovered that the factory installed 105C wires in the heaters were failing. I'll see if I can find 130C wire. However, the customer happened to be home when the fireworks occurred, and the breakers DID NOT TRIP - she had to stop the sparking and "carryin'-on" by turning off the thermostat.

In fact, her boyfriend "couldn't find the breaker that the heater was on"... Even when ALL breakers were off, the heater still had power. The breakers has failed to the point that they wouldn't turn off, let alone trip.

So... mystery solved...

Lesson learned... 22 year old 105C rated wire mounted inside baseboard heaters may fail to keep their temp rating.

I have the FPE panel and I intend to do some experiments with it this weekend to see just if and how many breakers have failed.
_________________________
-Virgil
Residential/Commercial Inspector
5 Star Inspections
Member IAEI

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#539 - 02/09/01 10:23 AM Re: FPE Panel and burnt wires...no brainer right?
doc Offline
Member

Registered: 11/25/00
Posts: 119
Loc: Texas
ok work with me here ,have seen hair dryers when used in the same circuit over and over you start to see the outlet becoming dark and then after a period of time it burns out ,when you remove the outlet a lot of times the wire will be charred or burnt looking inside the box.I think this is overheated wire.
Where I have seen this also is people using these little portable electric heaters after some time the wire to the outlet goes to turning like it is being overheated.Now does that tell you what I was getting at if not then you can smack me with a wet noddle ha ha
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