Posts Tagged ‘circuit breaker trip device’

Circuit Breaker Trip Device – Hidden Defect

February 2nd, 2011 Comments off
Square D PAL362000 Circuit Breakers For Sale

Square D PAL362000 Circuit Breakers For Sale

MIDWEST asked our Switchgear Engineering Technicians for an example of a molded case circuit breaker that had a hidden defect that could only be found by experienced testing.  We find many used circuit breakers that have defects that can be found by a close visual inspection.  Sometimes the defect may not be obvious but an experienced Engineering Technician knows where to look and would find the problem. In the business of repairing and reconditioning circuit breakers, we find about every possible problem that can occur. Whether we are reconditioning a replacement Westinghouse, General Electric or Siemens circuit breaker, many of the problems are the same. But we also frequently find hidden defects that could only be detected using proper testing.



For this example, let’s just use a replacement Square D PAL362000 circuit breaker. The breaker was reconditioned, which involved removing the cover to thoroughly inspect and maintain the interior of the Square D circuit breaker. The technician was immediately suspicious because he detected the slight smell of an overheated circuit breaker. Once you get that smell in your nose, you never forget it in the future. Even a small whiff tells you there may be a problem. In this case everything visible was in very good condition. There were no signs of overheating at the contacts or the line or load side breaker terminals. But the contact resistance test results indicated very high resistance on the center pole. A DLRO, digital low resistance ohmmeter, was used to locate the problem. The usual location is either the contacts, the bolted connections to the trip device, or the line or load side terminals or lugs. In this case the defect was inside the trip device. And a close sniff of the trip element confirmed it. MIDWEST performed an additional test, a high current test, to determine the voltage drop and therefore the resistance in the trip device on the center pole. Even though this replacement Square D circuit breaker looked just great, the trip device was defect and had to be replaced.

Disaster Replacement Circuit Breakers

June 25th, 2010 Comments off

An engineer called MIDWEST and asked how he could make sure a replacement for one of his old obsolete circuit breakers was not something out of one of the US disaster areas. He said it was a used replacement circuit breaker, but it looked shiny as new and seemed to operate okay. But he just had a bad feeling. To MIDWEST, that means he knows something he isn’t telling us. Regardless, here’s the short answer to his question. If you are qualified, remove the cover from the circuit breaker. Remove the arc chutes. On old circuit breakers, be careful, because the arc chutes may fall out in a dozen pieces. Remove the lugs.  Carefully remove the trip device.  Be sure not to lose any barriers or arc dividers. Then a close visual inspection must be made to detect any signs of corrosion or contamination on the breaker operating mechanism or inside the circuit breaker trip device or under the current carrying components. If the breaker got wet, corrosion should be easy to spot, but be sure to make a hard focused inspection.  Something more than a cosmetic look. During this process, look for signs that someone else has already tried to recondition the circuit breaker. Just cleaning a used or even a new circuit breaker, after it has been immersed in water, can be nearly impossible. There will be corrosion and dirt, even mud, in areas that are inaccessible. The trip device must be taken apart. MIDWEST has experience repairing old trip devices. It usually just isn’t worth the time. And if you mess with the trip element, there is a whole sequence of over current tests that must be performed afterwards. You can’t take a trip device apart, put it back together, and not completely test the circuit breaker afterwards. So, if you suspect an old, obsolete, or new circuit breaker has been exposed to water or mud, your best decision might be to destroy it and then throw it in the trash. Note, we strongly encourage destruction of any circuit breaker that is defective, so no one tries to reuse it. If you find nothing to indicate the breaker was damaged, then you have to put it all properly back together and test it.