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Thread: FIRE! Red FPE Breakers please help!

  1. #21
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    Even if an aftermarket breaker for the application is better then the original - look at the price.

    If you are considering replacing quite a few breakers - it may cost less to just replace the entire panel with something currently in production.

    Single pole FPE replacement maybe $25-30. Single pole Homeline breaker - maybe $3.50

    Panel in the open in a garage or basement might not be too difficult to replace.

    Panel flush in a wall - you have to think a little harder on what it will cost to replace - but may still be worth it in the end.

  2. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kwired View Post
    Even if an aftermarket breaker for the application is better then the original - look at the price.

    If you are considering replacing quite a few breakers - it may cost less to just replace the entire panel with something currently in production.

    Single pole FPE replacement maybe $25-30. Single pole Homeline breaker - maybe $3.50

    Panel in the open in a garage or basement might not be too difficult to replace.

    Panel flush in a wall - you have to think a little harder on what it will cost to replace - but may still be worth it in the end.
    Agreed and the job I am working right now we will be replacing the panel this summer. I do however want it to be safe as reasonably possible until I return. As mentioned a nicked wire blew in half. This is not normal! I found a couple dozen new UBI breakers per earlier suggestion. I found them for $8 ea on Ebay. They are 15a I am connecting to existing 12awg but this is better given the situation. Some would say its not my problem to do this but if ever a fire happens, it's not going to be because I didn't do my best with the situation I was given.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by markebenson View Post
    As mentioned a nicked wire blew in half. This is not normal!
    Impossible to say if that was 'normal' it has as much to do with the breaker as it has to do with circuit impedance and how the conductor was touching the grounded object.

  4. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by markebenson View Post
    I found a couple dozen new UBI breakers per earlier suggestion. I found them for $8 ea on Ebay.
    Yikes! You never quite know what your getting when you buy something on Ebay. These could be counterfeits. (Perfect counterfeiting situation: something that sells for a lot of money ($32 at HD) and is cheap to make (a few plastic parts and a piece of wire.)) You already have a bad situation with an FPE panel. Sounds like you might be making it worse with knock-off breakers.

    I replace lots of these panels and would never suggest to anyone that they just change the breakers. The panel design is just as bad as the breaker design. If they insisted, I would tell them to get another electrician. The liability is just too much. Plus replacing all the breakers in a typical panel would be about the same cost or more then replacing the entire panel.

  5. #25
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    Quote Originally Posted by markebenson View Post
    Agreed and the job I am working right now we will be replacing the panel this summer. I do however want it to be safe as reasonably possible until I return. As mentioned a nicked wire blew in half. This is not normal! I found a couple dozen new UBI breakers per earlier suggestion. I found them for $8 ea on Ebay. They are 15a I am connecting to existing 12awg but this is better given the situation. Some would say its not my problem to do this but if ever a fire happens, it's not going to be because I didn't do my best with the situation I was given.
    Why not just change the panel now? Even if other upcoming work would mean you need a temporary feeder to it or something of that nature. $8.00 a breaker, I'd still prefer the cheapest GE or Siemens panel as a temporary solution - even if I planned to throw it away later in the project.

  6. #26
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    Quote Originally Posted by Coppersmith View Post
    Yikes! You never quite know what your getting when you buy something on Ebay. These could be counterfeits. (Perfect counterfeiting situation: something that sells for a lot of money ($32 at HD) and is cheap to make (a few plastic parts and a piece of wire.)) You already have a bad situation with an FPE panel. Sounds like you might be making it worse with knock-off breakers.

    I replace lots of these panels and would never suggest to anyone that they just change the breakers. The panel design is just as bad as the breaker design. If they insisted, I would tell them to get another electrician. The liability is just too much. Plus replacing all the breakers in a typical panel would be about the same cost or more then replacing the entire panel.
    My friend, I have 25 years experience in the field. The likely hood of getting a counterfeit breaker that is a highly unpopular model with original packaging and confirmed barcode from a top rated Ebay seller is about 0.

  7. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by iwire View Post
    Impossible to say if that was 'normal' it has as much to do with the breaker as it has to do with circuit impedance and how the conductor was touching the grounded object.
    What calculation method are you using to determine this instance could have any normality whatsoever? The wire blew in half from a nick shorted against a j box connected with 12awg ground wire and grounding scew about 10 feet from panel.

  8. #28
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    Quote Originally Posted by markebenson View Post
    What calculation method are you using to determine this instance could have any normality whatsoever? The wire blew in half from a nick shorted against a j box connected with 12awg ground wire and grounding scew about 10 feet from panel.
    It should not be too hard to determine the minimum voltage needed to vaporize that diameter copper wire through conducted current only, and compare that to the nominal trip curve of the breaker.
    But it is harder to determine how much current would be necessary to burn through the wire from an arc, which could cause far more localized heating in the wire that pure resistive heating.

    I, for one, would not be willing to state categorically that the breaker "failed" without more computation that I do not feel qualified to do.

  9. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by markebenson View Post
    My friend, I have 25 years experience in the field. The likely hood of getting a counterfeit breaker that is a highly unpopular model with original packaging and confirmed barcode from a top rated Ebay seller is about 0.
    Oh really? Already happened with these breakers, on Ebay, from a top rated seller.

    https://www.ice.gov/news/releases/te...breaker-scheme

  10. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by markebenson View Post
    What calculation method are you using to determine this instance could have any normality whatsoever? The wire blew in half from a nick shorted against a j box connected with 12awg ground wire and grounding scew about 10 feet from panel.
    What calculation method are you using to determine this instance could have any abnormality whatsoever?

    Just because there is arcing contact between a hot conductor and grounded object does not mean the current will be sufficient to trip the breaker.

    The arc itself adds impedance and if the wire melts before the object it is hitting melts you can get an open conductor.

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