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Shocking Circuit Breaker with Broken Handles

April 2nd, 2010 Comments off

MIDWEST has seen about every old obsolete circuit breaker there is.  We worry about the dangers of some breakers to those not familiar with circuit breakers. Some of these dangers are not present very often, but when they are, they could be lethal.  Here is a quick example of one such danger with molded case circuit breakers.  These are the plastic looking circuit breakers.  This danger usually occurs with three phase breakers.  The breakers have a plastic like toggle that is pushed up and down to turn a circuit breaker on and off.  Some circuit breakers with this toggle like handle are designed such that there is a metal stud that extends from the breaker into the toggle to give it support.  Occasionally the toggle breaks off leaving a visible metal stud sticking out from the front of the now defective circuit breaker.  This metal stud looks innocent enough.  You might even be tempted to use a tool on the stud to turn the breaker off or on.  Don’t.  On some breakers, the metal stud is actually energized at the full voltage of the middle phase.  That’s right, the metal stud is hot.  Shocking! And if you get between it and ground, you could be killed.  Whether old, new, or obsolete, if you find a breaker with a broker handle and there is an exposed metal stud, have a qualified electrician check it out.  The exposed stud would be hot when the breaker is closed, not when it is open, unless the breaker is back fed.  This is shocking news about some circuit breakers with broken handles.