We did a remodel job for a GC two years ago. His homeowner calls regarding an Arc Fault breaker that has tripped and won't reset. My initial thought is that the breaker has gone bad and needs replaced.
Here's my hang up. We installed the circuit and the breaker on the remodel. My brother is there at this very moment to try and determine the problem but my money is on a bad breaker.
At any rate, should I expect to be compensated for this? Should I expect Square D to replace a two year old breaker? Or do I eat it and call it outstanding customer service? What to stop them from calling me in ten years expecting me to replace something else that "went bad"?
I run into similar situations all the tme, and I'm probably a fool in that I rarely charge for them.
The first thing you need to do is determine exactly what is happening. Almost always, there is something wrong that needs fixing. A "bad" breaker is by far the exception.
Once I find out what is really broke, it's a matter of deciding who gets to fix it. If it was something that might have been my doing, I fix it right away, for free. If not, I explain to the customer what is really wrong, and who should fix it.
Sometimes this leads to a chat with another trade. In those cases, I explain how I eliminated "electrical" from the possible cause. That oftem points them in the direction of the real problem.
The most important thing is to enter the situation with an open mind, and discover what is really happening.
FWIW, the last "bad breaker" call I got was eventually traced to a bad receptacle.
#159436 - 01/23/0703:17 AMRe: How would you handle this?
IF it's a bad breaker, I'd replace it for free and explain to the customer that it is outside the warranty, and isn't covered, but I'm replacing it anyway. That throws off the future expectation that something else will be replaced down the line for free. I know my supplier would take it back no questions asked, especially if I had been buying that same model throughout the year, they would credit it back toward a more recent purchase.
#159437 - 01/23/0709:34 AMRe: How would you handle this?
2 years ago? When you originally did the job were you intending to provide a perpetual warranty? I can't see a business reason to do this for free; if you're trying to keep a potential repeat or future customer happy, it's on the cuff. What is your plan of action if you find that your original work was fine, but the HO did something that fouled it up long after your original warranty expired? I'll be surprised if you get any money out of this.
#159439 - 01/23/0711:15 AMRe: How would you handle this?
I contacted the GC (who is a great customer believe it or not) and asked what his expectations were as the homewoner had initally contacted him. Obviously, if it was caused by something above and beyond what was originally done then the homeowner would be expecting a bill. That was relieving anyway.
It was not the breaker. There were wires touching in a single switch box where we had installed a 4-Way switch. This was found after the breaker was tested and proven to be okay.
I just don't get how that happens after 2 years? The analysis from the field is that movement and vibrations could have caused things to shift and move with time and eventually the wires contacted each other. That's what everyone says but I'm not sure I buy it. Its not as if the wires are just strung into the box with no support and no fastening.
The room had been painted however, there was no evidence that the switch had been removed and put back...I mean, why would it...really.
So anyway. There you have it. Another of the electrician's life's great mysteries...partially solved...as it were.
#159441 - 01/23/0711:55 PMRe: How would you handle this?
My habit is to leave the faceplate screws exactly verticle for switches, and exactly horizontal for horizontal device installations. On the rare callback, the first thing I check is the faceplate screws of the questioned devices. Nowadays I'll even snap a picture first before touching if they have been moved. Device plate removal= void on the warrenty, and service charges applied to repair.
#159442 - 01/24/0709:19 AMRe: How would you handle this?