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Posts Tagged ‘Square D Circuit Breakers’

Circuit Breaker Arc Chute Missing – Remove the Cover

April 4th, 2011 No comments

MIDWEST has its own internal blogosphere that especially hums away when something unusual happens, like when one of the Engineers or Engineering Technician discovers something important or rare or both with the electrical equipment they are working on. Here is an example of some internal buzz that also proved the

MA31000 Square D Circuit Breakers For Sale

MA31000 Square D Circuit Breakers For Sale

importance of removing the covers from electrical power circuit breakers, whether Square D circuit breakers, Cutler Hammer circuit breakers or GE General Electric circuit breakers. The need is not related to the manufacturer. In this example, the Engineering Technician was reconditioning and testing a 1000 amp Square D circuit breaker. When he removed the cover of the circuit breaker, he was amazed to find the center pole arc chute was gone. Completely missing. Fortunately the arcing and main contacts appeared undamaged. There was some arcing marks on the arcing contacts, but nothing serious. One could do high current tests, contact resistance tests, and insulation resistance tests and never catch this defect. But the first time this breaker tried to interrupt a large fault current, it could have failed, with the resulting arcing causing an eventual phase to phase arcing fault on the line side of a large circuit breaker. This arcing fault might not be large enough to trip the main breaker immediately. If for some reason the panel board was a MLO, main lugs only, the protective device might be the main breaker or fused switch on the line side of an upstream transformer. This is a worst case environment, but it does happen. It is especially dangerous because the arcing fault may last several minutes before the main protective device operates. And more scary is the possibility of someone being injured by the fault. This is an incipient failure. Also an insidious failure. It is another example of the reason to properly recondition replacement power circuit breakers. Testing alone is not enough. 

Important Circuit Breaker Maintenance Tool – Wasp Spray

March 21st, 2011 1 comment

On a field service project, the customer was amazed at how much equipment we had on the large service vans. Besides the test equipment for old and newer circuit breakers and for oil filled power transformers and switchgear, we had the equipment and tools to maintain the switchgear and make many potential repairs. Plus generators, fuel and lights and much more. The customer asked, kind of as a joke, if we had anything on the trucks that was very important but wasn’t technical. This was a shutdown project where the power was turned off at 5:00 AM and had to be back on by 11:00 AM. A lot of work in six hours, including replacing one of the circuit breakers.

 

The immediate simultaneous response from two Engineering Technicians was, “Hornet Spray.”  Each truck has at least one can of hornet, actually wasp spray, in a can that will spray a stream 10 to 15 feet. We learned decades ago that it can be painful if you have a short shutdown project and open up the switchgear to access your favorite Square D circuit breakers or Westinghouse circuit breakers or new Siemens circuit breakers and you find the switchgear to be a hotel for a bunch of wasp nests. Hard to find a volunteer to take the bite clearing out wasp nests so you can replace circuit breakers. Instead, a little stream of spray here and there and you’re ready to go. No customer wants their project put at risk because of a few bees, even if they are mad. The bees that is. It’s a magic solution for a non technical problem.  So that’s something non technical but extremely important for an outdoor project to inspect, test and maintain circuit breakers and electrical switchgear. Don’t leave home without it.  

Cutler Hammer HND312T33W Circuit Breaker Interrupts 65,000 Amps

February 18th, 2011 1 comment

MIDWEST had a call from a purchasing agent for a manufacturing plant. He was suppose to purchase a 1200 amp Cutler Hammer circuit breaker that he was told could handle 65,000 amps. All he knew was, he had a

Cutler Hammer HND312T33W Circuit Breakers For Sale

Cutler Hammer HND312T33W Circuit Breakers For Sale

bunch of numbers and when he asked about one of them he was told it meant the breaker could carry 65,000 amps. He was confused and really stressed because he had no idea what to order, but he knew he was getting some bad information. He wanted to order a Cutler Hammer HND312T33W circuit breaker. He wanted to be sure he was getting the right thing and then just move on. He was very busy and this request was just overwhelming. We explained in basic terms the circuit breaker was rated to handle 1200 amps. Anything more and it would eventually trip. The 65,000 amp rating just meant, if there was a terrible sudden short circuit where 1000s of amps flowed through the breaker for a fraction of a second, the breaker would safely trip and interrupt the current, as long as it was 65,000 amps or less. If it was more than 65,000 amps, the breaker might not interrupt the flow of current. The breaker might fail, with a loud blast. Or worse yet, someone could get seriously injured. It is a little scary how often some folks are given the huge responsibility to located electrical equipment when they have such limited information. Fortunately, MIDWEST specializes in taking care of just such calls.  Our switchgear personnel have decades of hands on experience with Cutler Hammer circuit breakers, Square D circuit breakers and many others. They know more than just the numbers. This is so critical when a customer calls and has poor or even wrong information. We want everyone to be safe. 

Circuit Breaker Large Over Current Time Delays

December 29th, 2010 4 comments

In MIDWEST’s training classes for qualified personnel, there is a segment where we explain the long time delay range within which a Square D 1000 amp circuit breaker should trip due to an overload. This information is received with anything from amazement to skepticism to outright disbelief, even though we show the Square D circuit breaker characteristic trip curve.  The overload time delay information is not restricted to Square D circuit breakers. It’s the same with Cutler Hammer, GE General Electric, Siemens, ITE, Westinghouse, Merlin Gerin, or Federal Pacific circuit breakers.

 

In our training example we use an old Square D 1000 amp MA type circuit breaker.  If we tested this circuit breaker at 3000 amps, that’s 300%, the minimum to maximum trip range is about 45 seconds to 340 seconds. It might trip in 45 seconds or it might not trip for 340 seconds.  This is an old thermo-magnetic circuit breaker, which typically works by heating a bi-metal in the over current trip device. Many newer breakers use electronic over current devices which have more repeatable overload time delay test results.

 

The illusion is that these Square D, Cutler Hammer, Westinghouse circuit breakers are designed to directly protect people. They are not. The breakers protect the equipment connected to them and they protect the electrical system. They are designed for the characteristics of the equipment connected, such that connected equipment will not be damaged by an overload or fault. This is a basic limited explanation. So, when you think of molded case circuit breakers, power circuit breakers or air circuit breakers, it’s important to know these breakers don’t just trip right at the breaker trip device rating.       

Circuit Breakers in Switchboard Buried in Sand

December 6th, 2010 No comments

Sometimes MIDWEST runs into switchgear and circuit breakers in such harsh environments that you would wonder how they don’t blow up, much less work properly.  An example is some switchgear and old circuit breakers found in foundry environments. The condition of electrical equipment in foundries is 100 times better than 25 years ago. But there is still one thing that has not changed for some foundries and that is sand in electrical switchgear. Some foundries still have their main panel boards and some switchgear in open foundry areas, rather than in clean positive pressure rooms.

 

We recently were called in to repair a 2000 amp circuit breaker used in an open foundry environment. It turned out the old circuit breaker was not a breaker at all, but rather was a 2000 amp bolted pressure switch. The electrical switchboard had over 6 inches of sand in the bottom and 3 or 4 inches on top. The main horizontal bus feeding the risers for the circuit breakers, was partially buried in foundry sand. The service technicians said they actually scooped the sand out before even trying to use vacuum equipment. Fortunately the sand didn’t carry anything with it that acted as a conductor. This isn’t always true. In this case, the sand was just more insulation.

 

Maintaining the bolt lock switch and the circuit breakers was a nasty job. The covers had to be removed from every breaker to clean the operating mechanism and to get the sand out of the contact and arc chute area. And all our efforts were only temporary since the environment was unchanged. More serious was the fact that foundry dust would be inside the over current trip devices of the circuit breakers. Therefore the operation of the trip devices was unreliable, even unsafe. It wouldn’t make any difference whether these old circuit breakers were Square D, Westinghouse, GE General Electric or Cutler Hammer. Foundry dust and sand doesn’t care who the manufacture is. Even a brand new circuit breaker would be a victim to the sand.

The illusion was the circuit breakers were okay because they didn’t trip. It was only when the owner tried and failed to operate the main switch did they realize that maybe the panel board and breakers needed some attention. This was not the first, nor will it be the last, switchgear, panel board, or circuit breakers that we find basically buried in sand.

Removing Cover from an Energized Breaker

November 19th, 2010 No comments

 

MIDWEST had a customer call and ask if it was okay to remove the cover from an old 400 amp circuit breaker, live. Our Infrared Scan indicated the load side connection was overheating. They wanted to repair it, but didn’t want to turn the power off to the whole panel board. They needed to remove the cover of the circuit breaker to make the repair and thought they could just remove the four screws holding the cover on and carefully remove the cover. We explained politely that they were crazy to try such a thing. This was an old molded case circuit breaker and the arc chutes for this breaker were not fastened in place as they are in some breakers. In addition, the arc dividers were metal and they were held together with an insulated band. On some of these breakers we have to tape the band to hold the arc dividers together or they just fall apart. So the danger would be that you remove the cover with the line side still hot and one of the arc chutes falls out and the metal arc dividers fall apart. It would be almost certain that one of the metal arc dividers would short a stationary contact to a moveable contact and cause a horrific arcing blast, arcing fault.  Depending on the instantaneous, ie fault, setting of the main breaker, the fault might last for seconds and result in tremendous damage to the equipment and expose anyone nearby to serious injury or death from an arc blast. Because the fault is on the line side of the breaker, it wouldn’t take much to create a panel board bus fault. This is a good way to get someone seriously injured or killed and a good way to destroy a whole panel board. To remove the cover off any circuit breaker with the line side hot is a very bad idea. But to remove the cover of some of the older circuit breakers, with the line side hot, is just crazy because of the construction of the breaker. Inside molded case circuit breakers there are other devices that may fall out when you remove the cover. Besides all this, there may be something defective inside the breaker, just waiting there, for the first unfortunate person to take the cover off, and then it falls apart or breaks completely. You could get very unlucky. We call these things incipient failures and they can be some of the most nasty and dangerous defects in electrical equipment, because you are not expecting them. This is true whether it’s a Square D, Cutler Hammer, Westinghouse, GE General Electric, or Siemens circuit breaker or any other breaker manufacturer. Turn the main power off!