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#41178 08/17/04 12:16 AM
Joined: Dec 2001
Posts: 270
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Elzappr Offline OP
Member
I was out of town last week, doing a cursory "PM" on a small service for a computer center, and noticed that one breaker's trip unit was making a barely audible sizzling/snapping sound. The current draw was only 20%, and there was no evidence of loose connections or discoloration. Since this breaker fed some vital UPS equipment and another computer equipment panelboard, I didn't want to even THINK about shutting it down to replace the trip unit. BUT, it would be good to know if some noise coming out of a trip unit is at all normal. Anyone have experience with Westinghouse breakers' trip units (in a Cutler Hammer switchboard)making noise?

Joined: May 2003
Posts: 2,876
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e57 Offline
Member
That sizzling sound is just that, aching away until it gives up the ghost.

Replace it soon, or you'll be doing it later. Maybe the buss work its attached to as well....


Mark Heller
"Well - I oughta....." -Jackie Gleason
Joined: Apr 2002
Posts: 2,527
B
Moderator
 
Elz, these comments are worth every penny you paid for ‘em.

Given that the noise could indicate a serious problem, if it is a molded-case breaker, get the client rep to let you remove the breaker front cover while in service, {it should be removable if having an interchangeable trip} making every reasonable effort not to open the breaker, but very plainly understood that you not be liable if it happens.

If it is a so-called “critical” load, would the client prefer to prepare for a trip while you are there, or at another time when you might be an hour away and him desperately needing to find a fried-breaker replacement—should that be the only damage during unscheduled failure?

I get the “Where’s your dual-redundant everything?” stance when people start demanding immediate and absolute answers, sometimes followed by a “Please show me your scripted contingency plans for loss of power to this system.” and, “You mean to tell me that a single-point failure will cause some sort of operational disruption? Who decided on that brilliant scheme?” [There are financial operations and data centers that spend serious money on equipment and planning—having learned from expensive mistakes.]

If the client won’t buy into your plan, walk away and don’t lose any sleep over it.

Thermal imaging or AC millivolt-drop tests could be made with the breaker in service. Noise may be from high harmonic current in the circuit.

It may be apparent that over the last decades, I have become cynical and impatient with clueless, self-important, dime-a-dozen hotshot, junior-MBA managers that demand supreme, unfaltering NASA-grade reliability from electrical gear that they barely paid Wallmart prices for, particularly under the guise of protecting their precious data of value akin to the Dead Sea scrolls.




[This message has been edited by Bjarney (edited 08-17-2004).]

Joined: Nov 2000
Posts: 2,148
R
Member
Quote
if it is a molded-case breaker, get the client rep to let you remove the breaker front cover while in service,
Don't forget the PPE that is required for this work. A short circuit study and arc-blast/flash calculation will be required to select the proper PPE.
Don


Don(resqcapt19)
Joined: Jun 2004
Posts: 206
C
Member
ELZ, I agree with Bjarney, you have a shutdown waiting to happen. If I was to bet on it 2:00AM when you dead tired. Noise out of the trip unit is bad.

I do thermal imaging as part of my job. Find someone in your area to do an infarred scan of the breaker. This is a lot safer than opening the breaker front cover live. I am not saying you can't do this, just infarred is safer and less likey to cause the breaker to trip. Also do the millivolt drop test across the breaker.

Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
I
Moderator
Here is a 'picture' CaptAl took with the thermal imaging camera.

[Linked Image]

This one is dramatic but the camera can find very small problems.

Bob


Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Massachusetts
Joined: Mar 2002
Posts: 582
R
Ron Offline
Member
What is it in the picture? Seems like a control wire terminal strip or something of that sort.


Ron
Joined: Sep 2003
Posts: 650
W
Member
Looks to me like a row of three pole switches or breakers.

Toward the center right there looks like a 3 pole module that is off, and it is cooler than the other.

The wires on the top of the picture go into one of those plastic finger wire ducts.

I am guessing that this is a row of DIN mounted breakers in some bit of equipment, rather than a panelboard.

And it looks like one of the terminals on one of the breakers/switches is in sorry shape.

-Jon

Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
I
Moderator
I am pretty sure Al told me it was an enclosure filled with IEC style breakers.

[Linked Image from eatonelectrical.com]

I am sure he will get back to us, we work together. [Linked Image]

Bob


Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Massachusetts
Joined: Jan 2003
Posts: 4,391
I
Moderator
I think Jon wins the prize.
[Linked Image]


Bob Badger
Construction & Maintenance Electrician
Massachusetts
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